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1452-1519 Italian painter sculptor architect musician engineer and scientist probably the supreme example of Renaissance genius Born in Vinci Tuscany he was the illegitimate son of a Florentine notary and a peasant girl His precocious artistic talent brought him to Verrocchios workshop in 1466 where he met Botticelli and Ghirlandaio The cul mination of his art in this first period in Florence is seen in the magnificent unfinished Adoration of the Magi Uffizi with its characteristic dramatic movement and chiaroscuro In c1482 Leonardo went to the court of Ludovico Sforza in Milan and there composed most of his Trattato della pittura and the notebooks that demonstrate his versa tile genius The severe plagues in 1484 and 1485 drew his attention to town planning and his drawings and plans for domed churches reflect his concern with architectural problems In 1483 Leonardo and his pupil Ambrogio de Predis were commissioned to execute the famous Madonna of the Rocks two versions 1483-c1486 Louvre 1483-1508 National Gall London The now badly damaged Last Supper c1495-1498 Milan was executed during the period when he was experimenting with the Fresco medium and this partly accounts for its damage Despite this a sublime spiritual content and power of invention mark it as one of the worlds masterpieces Leonardos model for an equestrian monument to Francesco Sforza was never cast and in 1500 he returned to Florence where he did much theoretical work in mathematics and pursued his anatomical studies in the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova As a military engineer for Cesare Borgia he studied swamp reclamation and met Niccol Machiavelli In c1503 he executed the celebrated Mona Lisa Louvre Then as architect and engineer in Milan to the French king Louis Xii he continued his scientific investigations into geology botany hydraulics and mechanics In 1510-11 he painted St Anne Mary and the Child Louvre a work that exemplifies his handling of sfumato-misty subtle transitions in tone His enigmatic St John the
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