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The 16th-century writer Giorgio Vasari indicated that Leonardo cared little for money but was very generous toward his friends and assistants.He had an exceedingly inquisitive mind and made strenuous efforts to become erudite in languages, natural science, mathematics, philosophy, and history, among other subjects.
In 1482 Leonardo moved to Milan to work in the service of the city’s duke—a surprising step when one realizes that the 30-year-old artist had just received his first substantial commissions from his native city of Florence: the unfinished panel painting for the monastery of San Donato a Scopeto and an altar painting for the St.
Bernard Chapel in the Palazzo della Signoria, which was never begun.
Moreover, he was no doubt enticed by Duke Ludovico Sforza’s brilliant court and the meaningful projects awaiting him there. Leonardo’s gracious but reserved personality and elegant bearing were well-received in court circles.
Highly esteemed, he was constantly kept busy as a painter and sculptor and as a designer of court festivals.
He applied his creativity to every realm in which graphic representation is used: he was a painter, sculptor, architect, and engineer. He used his superb intellect, unusual powers of observation, and mastery of the art of Leonardo’s parents were unmarried at the time of his birth.
Leonardo grew up on his father’s family’s estate, where he was treated as a “legitimate” son and received the usual elementary education of that day: reading, writing, and arithmetic.
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Leonardo devoted 12 years—with interruptions—to this task.
In 1493 the clay model of the horse was put on public display on the occasion of the marriage of Emperor Maximilian to Bianca Maria Sforza, and preparations were made to cast the colossal figure, which was to be 16 feet (5 metres) high.