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Young Leonardo astonishes his family and friends by his precociousness and his desire for understanding. A great observer, his artistic sensitivities develop over time. He apprentices with Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence.
Leonardo masters perspective and proportion of man and animals, becomes a good architect, and draws from life. He indulges in the "exploration of the true." Technical problems and philosophical considerations are intertwined in Leonardo's mind and work.
At the age of twenty, Leonardo is accepted into the painters' guild, and his creative imagination serves the pomp of the Medici court well. He caricatures the faces of the men involved in the slander against him.
Leonardo studies the machines of his day in order to improve them and to invent even more complex ones. As Leonardo's work progresses, he shakes off all the conventional representations of the subject of the adoration of the magi.
Lorenzo de Medici sends Leonardo to the court of Milan as a musician. When he arrives, he presents himself as a military engineer armed with intricate drawings of weapons and machinery. The "Virgin on the Rocks" is rich with symbolism.
Leonardo organizes entertainments and shows at the court of Milan and experiments with mechanical inventions and theatrical machinery. He soon becomes the court painter, begins his treatise on painting, and produces a four-volume treatise on flight.
Leonardo develops grand urban projects for the city of Milan, recently ravaged by plague. In his quest to understand the essence of Man, Leonardo carries out dissections of the human body and records his findings in intricate drawings.
Leonardo spends many hours, sometimes days, thinking about his painting without picking up a brush. To him, proportion and balance must flow from the artist's knowledge of his subjects. "Beauty and harmony are of the divine nature," writes Leonardo.
Venitian officials ask Leonardo to help them design defenses for the city. In French-occupied Milan, Leonardo da Vinci is appointed chief engineer in the service of Cesare Borgia.
Fifty years old, Leonardo returns to Florence in 1503. The public flocks to see his paintings in which they see earthly beings transformed into heavenly creatures such as the "Mona Lisa."
In his capacity as an engineer, Leonardo designs an excavator large enough to build canals. Some of Leonardo's paintings from his later years are lost, while others exist only as copies.
In 1513, Leonardo moves to the Vatican, and then at the invitation of the king of France, he moves to Amboise in 1516 to become first painter, engineer, and architect to the King. Leonardo dies in 1519 at the age of sixty-seven.
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