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Leon Battista Alberti

The First Renaissance Man

Alberti (statue in the Loggia of the Uffizi)

Beauty: the adjustment of all parts proportionately so that one cannot add or subtract or change without impairing the harmony of the whole. Alberti

One of the key figures of the Renaissance, Leon Battista Alberti (1404–72) achieved his greatest fame as an architect though he was also known as a theorist of art, a scientist, mathematician and author. Even in his own day he was considered the ideal of the universal genius—the first 'Renaissance man'.

The Alberti were one of Florence's leading banking familiies; Leon Battista was born in Genoa during a period when the family was in exile. Though illegitimate, Alberti was well taken care of; he studied at Padua and Bologna, and a series of papal patronage jobs allowed him to do what he liked without financial worries.

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Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by Federico Pelloni, Giovanni Lusini