Leon Battista Alberti was the archetype of the Renaissance 'universal man'. Bron in Genoa in 1404, he belonged to one of the wealthy merchant-banker families of Florence, and was sent to boarding school in Padua where he received a classical Latin education. Graduating in canon law from the University of Bologna, he subsequently entered the service of the Church and became a secretary in the Papal Chancery at Rome. Taking holy orders, he returned to Florence in 1434, where his association with Donatello and Brunelleschi led to the book On Painting and his interest in the design of Churches. He died in Rome in 1472. Cecil Grayson was Serena Professor of Italian Studies and Fellow of Magdalen College from 1958 to 1987 and was honoured by numerous Italian academies. The leading authority on Alberti's written work, he was awarded the CBE in 1992. Martin Kemp has been Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford since 1995.
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