Art: Light & Dark

Beatrice d'Este was 16 when the future Duke of Milan married her (in 1491), and probably not much older when Leonardo da Vinci painted her portrait for the Duke, his patron. Innocent, fresh and direct, the portrait was like a summing up of everything that the complex, secretive, worldly-wise Old Master himself was not. It made a highlight in the comprehensive show of Leonardo and his circle at Los Angeles County Museum last week.

Of the 72 paintings on exhibition, only four were attributed directly to Leonardo. The rest, wavering between chill sentimentality and brown gloom, either anticipated or copied the Master's...

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