LEONARDO (1452-1519), along with Michelangelo and Raphael, is one of the greatest representative figures of the Italian Renaissance and is acknowledged to be perhaps the most complete universal genius in history as artist, scientist, engineer and inventor. His painting, theMona Lisa, is arguably both the most famous painting in the world and the quintessential Renaissance image of womanhood. So extensive and wide-ranging are his achievements that although this book is a study of Leonardo as an artist, it would be misleading not to include some consideration of the whole remarkable spectrum of his life. There are no clues to the origin of his genius in his modest family background. The illegitimate son of a local village notary, the young Leonardo demonstrated a developing artistic talent which led to his being apprenticed to the Florentine painter Andrea del Verrocchio, thus beginning his career as a painter before his intellectual curiosity led him to more practical professional pursuits. As a result hisoeuvrewhere painting is concerned is remarkably limited and much disputed by art historians. Nevertheless, he left a unique legacy to the world which encompassed the entire creative impetus and spiritual dynamic of the Italian Renaissance.