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Da Vinci in Verrocchio’s Studio

Da Vinci's Left Angel in Verrocchio's Baptism of Christ
Two Angels from The Baptism of Christ
(Leonardo's detail, left angel)

1472-75 by Verrocchio
Oil on wood
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

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As a young man Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was apprenticed to the studio of Italian Renaissance painter and sculptor, Andrea del Verrocchio . Verrocchio has also been mentioned in connection with an apprenticeship with the great early Italian Renaissance sculptor, Donatello, though this claim is unsubstantiated. Like Donatello, Verrocchio's leanings were more toward sculpture rather than painting. After the mid 1470s, Verrocchio devoted his efforts exclusively to sculpture.

Verrocchio’s famous art work, The Baptism of Christ, of ca. 1475 (now in the Uffizi) appears to have made quite an impact for young Leonardo da Vinci in the art community. It was da Vinci's work as a mere apprentice painting one of the foreground figures, a blond angel, and the atmospheric landscape background that supposedly prompted Verrocchio to give up painting, angered that he had been surpassed by a child if the tale is true. Da Vinci's backward-turned angel, twisting to face the viewer, caused quite a stir among artists. Da Vinci's device contradicts the traditional composition of forward-facing, horizontal placement of static figures in art up to this time. Verrocchio ’s only signed fine art painting is the Madonna with Child and Saints in Pistoia Cathedral.

Brenda Harness, Art Historian


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