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Photographer's Note

THE GILDED BALL

Leonardo da Vinci, known as the creator of the two most famous paintings in history, was in reality only a part-time artist. A relentlessly curious man, he was a passionate scientist and consummate inventor. Other than the fact that he was born out of wedlock in the small Tuscan town of Vinci in 1452, little is known about his earliest years. When he was around 15 years old, however, he was apprenticed to Andrea del Verrocchio, who operated an exceptionally successful artists’ studio in Florence. (Sandro Botticelli and Lorenzo de Credi were two of Leonardo's fellow apprentices.) In the Renaissance such studios were multifunctional workshops, where commissions for architectural projects and decorations of palaces and churches were as likely as commissions for paintings and sculpture.

A generation before Leonardo’s birth Filippo Brunelleschi's had designed and built his wondrous dome, and crowned it with a lantern, the combined structure soaring to 114.5 meters (375 ft) or about 37 stories above the piazza below. Then in 1471 Verrocchio’s studio received a commission to place a large gilded copper ball on top of the lantern. Leonardo, at 19, participated fully, and indeed may have even overseen the actual project. Using hoists similar to those Brunelleschi had originally used in building the dome, Leonardo had a two meter diameter ball hoisted and placed on top of the lantern. This project was Leonardo’s first engineering project, and it awakened in him a lifelong passion for innovative engineering.

The tower seen on the right in the photograph is the campanile of the the Badia Fiorentina, an abbey church located in the Duomo District of Florence. The abbey was founded in AD 978 and is visible from many areas of Florence. The Filippino Lippi masterpiece entitled "The Virgin Appearing to St. Bernard" (1485), can be found in the abbey.

This image will be placed in a new group theme, DOMES. I Welcome others to contribute.

Nikon D70, 28-200 mm Nikkor lens, tripod, and originally shot at 3008x2000 pixels.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6035 W: 457 N: 10453] (35169)
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