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When Leonardo was 14 or 15 years old, noting his son’s uncommon artistic talents, his father sent him to Florence, where the young boy became apprenticed to the renowned master Andrea del Verrocchio, who lived from 1435-1488, and was the leading artist of Florence and very influential in the early Renaissance period of art. It was with Verrocchio that young Leonardo was trained in all the countless skills of a traditional workshop — not only drawing, painting, crushing and mixing pigments, sculpting and modelling, but drafting, chemistry, metallurgy, metal working, plaster casting, leather working, mechanics and carpentry. New ideas in painting, and indeed culture, were rising up in Florence around this time, as the Renaissance was blossoming. Oil painting had just been introduced to Italy from northern Europe, and Leonardo spent a lot of time mixing different materials, and soon surpassed everyone in his use of the new medium. Leonardo also brought new perspective and depth to painting, as he used his skills in math and geometry to calculate the placement of lines in his drawings and paintings. And perhaps foremost to the new Rensaissance art was Leonardo’s passion to draw things as realistically as possible. He sketched incessantly and was an ardent observer of nature, animals, plants, people, as noted above. When Leonardo da Vinci was 30 years old, he left Florence for Milan, where he spent the next 17 years. At the persuasion of Lorenzo de’ Medici (hoping to secure peace between Florence and Milan), Da Vinci presented himself to the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro. In 1481 or 1482, Leonardo wrote a letter to Ludovico, offering himself as a military engineer, and came before the Duke with a lira da braccio, lute, which he made himself and beautifully played before the court. Leonardo’s letter told of all the weapons and fortifications he could design to keep the city safe. His letter began like this:“Most illustrious Lord, having now...
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