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The reputation of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) as an inventor and scientist, and his complex personality, have sometimes almost overshadowed the importance of his aims and techniques as a painter. This exquisite book focuses on a crucial period in the 1480s and 90s when, as a salaried court artist to Duke Ludovico Sforza in the city-state of Milanfreed from the pressures of making a living in the commercially minded Florentine republicLeonardo produced some of the most celebrated and influential works of his career. The Last Supper, his two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks, and The Lady with an Ermine(a beautiful portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, Ludovico's mistress) were paintings that set a new standard for his Milanese contemporaries. Leonardo's style was magnified, through collaboration and imitation, to become the visual language of the regime, and by the time he returned to Florence in 1500, his status had been utterly transformed. This new examination of Leonardo's painting career and his lasting impact on Italian Renaissance style features works from U.S., British, and European collections. Collectively, they represent the diverse range of his artistic output, from drawings in chalk, ink, and metalpoint to full-scale oil paintings. Together with the authors' meticulous research and detailed analysis, they demonstrate Leonardo's consummate skill and extraordinary ambition as a painter.
Luke Syson is curator of Italian paintings before 1500 and head of research at The National Gallery, London. His previous books include Renaissance Siena and Pisanello. Larry Keith is director of conservation, The National Gallery, London.