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Leone Battista Alberti

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Leone Battista Alberti (1404-1472), Italian painter, poet, philosopher, cryptographer, musician and architect, was born in Venice on the February 18, 1404.

He was so skilled in Latin verse that a comedy he wrote in his twentieth year, entitled Philodoxius, deceived the younger Aldus, who edited and published it as the genuine work of Lepidus.

He has been credited with being the actual author of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a strange fantasy novel, whose typographic qualities and illustrations have made it legendary as one of the most beautiful books ever printed.

In music, he was reputed one of the first organists of the age. He held the appointment of canon in the metropolitan church of Florence, and thus had leisure to devote himself to his favourite art.

He is generally regarded as one of the Renaissance architects most devoted to restoring the formal language of classical architecture.

At Rome he was employed by Pope Nicholas V in the restoration of the papal palace and of the foundation of Acqua Vergine, and in the ornamentation of the magnificent Trevi Fountain[?].

At Mantua he designed the church of Sant'Andrea and at Rimini the celebrated church of San Francesco.

On a commission from the Rucellai family he designed the principal facade of the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, as well as the family palace in the Via della Scala, now known as the Palazzo Strozzi[?].

Alberti wrote works on sculpture, Della Statua, and on painting, De Pictura, which are highly esteemed; but his most celebrated treatise is that on architecture, De Re Aedificatoria, which was been translated into Italian, French, Spanish and English by the 18th century.

Alberti was an accomplished cryptographer by the standard of his day, and invented both polyalphabetic ciphers and machine-assisted encryption using his cipher disk.

Alberti died at Rome in the April of 1472. His life was described in Giorgio Vasari's Vite.


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