Paintings: The Flight of the Bird

Leonardo da Vinci during his lifetime was renowned as the very embodiment of the Renaissance ideal, the "universal man," at once a brilliant painter, muralist, draftsman, engineer and architect. But he was almost as well known for his inability to see his projects through. "Alas," cried Pope Leo X, "Leonardo will never finish anything. He thinks of the end even before he has begun." As a result, while some 6,000 pages of his notes and casual sketches survive, there are only 15 known Leonardo paintings—and some experts place the number as low...

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