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Leon Battista Alberti or Leone Battista Alberti February 14, — April 25, was an Italian author, poet, linguist, architect, philosophercryptographer, and general Renaissance polymath.

In Italy, his first name is usually spelled Leon. Alberti studied canon law at the University of Bologna, took Holy Orders, worked for the papal curia and as a canon, but his greatest interest was in mathematics, art, and classical architecture. InAlberti wrote the first general treatise on the laws of perspective, De pictura On Painting. De re aedificatoriaTen Books on Architecturepatterned after the De architecture by the Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius, was the first architectural treatise of the Renaissance, and covered a wide range of subjects, from history to town planning, and engineering to the philosophy of beauty.

Translated into Italian, French, Spanish, and English, it became an important reference for Renaissance architects. Alberti was employed by Pope Nicholas V in the restoration of the papal palace and of the restoration of the Roman aqueduct of Acqua Vergine, which debouched into a simple basin designed by Alberti, replaced later by the Baroque Trevi Fountain. The only buildings Alberti designed entirely himself, were San Sebastianostill under construction during Alberti’s lifetime, and San Andreacompleted in the eighteenth century.

Leon’s mother, Bianca Fieschi, was a Bolognese widow who died during an outbreak of bubonic plague.

Leon Battista Alberti

Leone Battista received early education in mathematics from his father, Lorenzo. Like many other prominent families, the Albertis had been expelled from their native city, Florence, by the republican government, run by the Albizzis. When Genoa was struck by the plague, Lorenzo moved his family to Venicewhere Lorenzo ran the family banking business with his brother. Lorenzo alberrti again in Alberti received the finest education then available to an Italian nobleman.

From around tohe studied classics at the ldon school of Gasparino Barzizza in Padua. He then completed his education at the University of Bologna, where he studied law. A short abttista written by Alberti c. After the death of his father, Alberti was supported by his uncles. Inhe attended the University of Bologna, where he studied law, but found he did not enjoy this topic.

He became ill through overwork, and began pursuing the study of mathematics as a means of relaxation. In his twenties, Alberti wrote On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Letters, which he dedicated to his brother Carlo, also a scholar and writer.

He also wrote a Latin comedy, Philodoxeos, intended to teach that “a man dedicated to study and hard work can attain glory, just as well as a rich and fortunate man. Like Petrarchwho had been the first famous philologist to study the works of the ancient Roman poets, Alberti loved classics, but he compared continual reading and rereading in libraries with long confinement in the prison. Later, he also complained, that “the learned don’t become rich, or if they do become rich from literary pursuits, the sources of their wealth are shameful.

The ban on the Alberti family was lifted inand Alberti visited Florence for the first time and established a friendship with Brunelleschi. The same year, he received his doctorate in canon law in In the early s, he went to Rome, where he worked as an abbreviator at the Papal curia, drafting papal briefs. A master of Latin and Italian, Alberti also rewrote, in elegant Latin, traditional lives of saints and martyrs. After taking holy orders, he was assigned the priorate of San Martino a Gangalandi at Lastra a Signa.

Inhe was appointed rector of the parish of San Lorenzo in Mugello. Alberti served also as bbattista papal inspector of monuments, and advised Pope Nicholas V, a former fellow student from Bologna, on the ambitious building projects in the city of Rome.

On Painting And On Sculpture. The Latin Texts Of De Pictura And De Statua by Leon Battista Alberti

Alberti was appointed canon of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. He greatly admired its dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, which was at that time the largest in the world, a unique integration of art, science, and technology, and the spiritual symbol of the Florentine Rinascita. InAlberti loen the first general treatise on the laws of perspective, De pictura On Painting in Latin, and inhe translated it into Italian as Della pittura Ce book was dedicated to Filippo Brunelleschi, and credited Donatello c.


InAlberti was commissioned to transform the Gothic church of San. Stata, Rimini, into a memorial to gattista local warlord Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, his wife Isotta, and courtiers. The church is usually known as the Tempio Malatestiano. Alberti himself did not live in Rimini, but corresponded with his assistants, who were responsible for most of the actual rebuilding.

Its triumphal arch was even grander than that of the Tempio Malatestiano. Alberti studied the ancient sites, ruins, and objects of Battissta. His detailed observations, included in De re aedificatoriaTen Books on Architecturewere patterned after the De architecture by the Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius fl. The first architectural treatise of the Renaissanceit covered a wide range of subjects, from history to town planning, and engineering to the philosophy of beauty. Alberti was part of the rapidly expanding entourage of intellectuals and artisans supported by the courts of the princes and lords of the time.

As a member of noble family and part of the Roman curia, he was a welcomed guest at the Este court in Ferrara, and in Urbino he spent part of the hot-weather season with the soldier-prince Federigo da Montefeltro.

Montefeltro was a shrewd military commander, who generously spent money on the patronage of art, and Alberti planned to dedicate his treatise on architecture to him. Leoon a few years before his death, Alberti completed De iciarchia On Ruling the Householda dialogue about Florence during the Medici rule.

Alberti died on April 25,in Rome. Alberti is said to be in Mantegna’s great frescoes in the Camera degli Sposi, the older man dressed in dark red clothes, who whispers in the ear of Ludovico Gonzaga, the ruler of Mantua.

In Alberti’s self-portrait, a large plaquette, he is clothed as a Roman. To the left of his albeerti is a winged eye. On the reverse side is the question, Quid tum? Violets are black, and battissta are black. Alberti used his artistic treatises to propound a new humanistic theory of art, and drew on his contacts with early Quattrocento artists such as Brunelleschi and Masaccio to provide a practical handbook for the Renaissance artist.

An Italian translation of De pictura Della pittura was published inone year after the original Latin version, and addressed Filippo Brunelleschi in the preface.

Alberti regarded mathematics as the common ground ,eon art and the sciences. He began his treatise, Della pittura On Paintingwith “to make clear my exposition in writing this brief commentary on painting, I will take first from the mathematicians those things with which my subject is concerned. Painters and sculptors strive “through by different skills, at the same goal, namely that as nearly as possible the work they have dd shall appear to the observer to be similar to the real objects of nature.

Beauty was for Alberti “the harmony of all parts in relation to one another…this concord is realized in a particular number, proportion, and arrangement demanded by harmony. Albergi admired Brunelleschi, a self-taught architect whose early achievements included a formulation of the laws of linear perspective, which he presented in two panels. In his own work, Alberti codified the basic geometry so that the linear perspective became mathematically coherent and related to the spectator.

After Alberti, Piero della Francesca presented his own theory of perspective in De prospectiva pingendi. Nothing pleases me so much as mathematical investigations and demonstrations, especially when I can turn them to some useful practice drawing from mathematics the principles of painting perspective and some amazing propositions on the moving of weights Leon Battista Alberti.

De re aedificatoriaTen Books on Architecturepatterned after the De architecture by the Roman se and engineer Vitruvius fl. By the eighteenth century, it had been translated into Italian, French, Spanish, and English. Lson covered a wide range of subjects, from history to town planning, and engineering to the battita of beauty. A large and expensive book, De re aedificatoria was not fully published untilafter which it became an important guide for architects.

Alberti announced that the book was written “not only for craftsmen but also for anyone interested in the noble arts. Through his book, Alberti spread his theories and ideals of the Florentine Renaissance to the rest of Italy. Pope Nicholas V, to whom Alberti dedicated the work, dreamed of rebuilding the city of Rome, but managed to realize only a fragment of his visionary plans.


While Alberti’s treatises on painting and architecture have been hailed as the founding texts of a new form of art, breaking from the gothic past, it is impossible to know the extent of their practical impact within his lifetime.

His praise of the Calumny of Apelles led to several attempts to emulate it, including paintings by Botticelli and Signorelli. His stylistic ideals can be seen being put into practice in the works of Mantegna, Piero della Francesca and Alebrti Angelico.

It is xlberti to ascertain how far Alberti was responsible for these innovations, and how far starua was simply articulating the trends of the contemporary artistic movement, with which his ee experience had made him familiar.

Alberti also wrote a work on sculptureDe Statua. Alberti wrote I Libri della famiglia, a discussion of education, marriage, household management, and money, in the Tuscan dialect. The work was not printed until Like Erasmus decades ve, Alberti stressed the need for a reform in education. He noted that “the care of very young children is women’s work, for nurses or the mother,” and leoj at the earliest possible age children should be taught the alphabet.

With great hopes, he gave the work to his family to read, but in his autobiography Alberti confesses that “he could hardly avoid feeling rage, moreover, when he saw some of his relatives openly ridiculing both the whole work and the author’s futile enterprise along it. Alberti borrowed many of its characters from Lucian, one of his favorite Greek writers.

The name of its hero, Lekn, refers to the Greek word for blame or criticism. After being expelled from heaven, Momus, the god of mockery, is eventually castrated.

Episode 04 – Alberti and De Statua — The Sculptor’s Funeral

Jupiter and the other gods come down to earth also, but they return to heaven after Jupiter breaks his nose in a great storm. Apart from his treatises on the arts, Alberti also wrote: Potiti “Life of St.

He has been credited with being the author of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a strange fantasy novel, although there is a good deal of debate about this attribution. Alberti was an accomplished cryptographer and invented the first polyalphabetic ciphers, now known as the Alberti Cipher, and machine-assisted encryption using his Cipher Disk. The polyalphabetic cipher was, at least in principle, for it lon not properly used for several hundred years, the most significant advance in cryptography since before Julius Caesar’s time.

Cryptography historian David Kahn titles him the “Father of Western Cryptography,” pointing to three significant advances in the field which can be attributed to Alberti: Among Alberti’s smaller studies, pioneering in their field, were a treatise in cryptography, De componendis cifris, and the first Italian grammar.

He was also interested in the drawing of maps. With the Florentine cosmographer and cartographer Paolo Toscanelli, he collaborated in astronomy, a close science to geography at that time, and produced a small Latin work on geography, Descriptio urbis Romae The Panorama of the City of Rome. Alberti took great interest in studying the ruins of classical architecture in Rome and elsewhere. At Romehe was employed by Pope Nicholas V in the restoration of the papal palace and of the restoration of the Roman aqueduct of Acqua Vergine, which debouched into a simple basin designed by Alberti, replaced later by the Baroque Trevi Fountain.

On a commission from the Rucellai family he completed the principal facade of The Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florencethe marble-clad shrine of the Holy Sepulchre, which had been begun in the previous century and perhaps also the Capella Rucellai.

Alberti is also now thought to have had an important role in the designing of Pienza, a village that had been called Corsignano, but which was redesigned beginning around The design, which radically transformed the center of the town, included a palace for the pope, a church, a town hall, and a building for the bishops who would accompany the Pope on his trips. Pienza is considered an early example of Renaissance urban planning.