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Leone Battista Alberti

Leone Battista Alberti (1404 - 1472), Italian painter, poet, philosopher, cryptographer, musician and architect of the Renaissance. He was born in Genoa.

He is best known for his treatise De pictura (On painting) (1435) which contained the first scientific study of perspective.

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 organistsists 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.

In architecture he is generally regarded as one of the 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 restoration of the Roman aqueduct of Acqua Vergine, which debouched into a simple basin designed by Albert, which was swept away later by the Baroque 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.

An Italian translation of De pictura (Della pittura) was published the year following the Latin version and was dedicated to Filippo Brunelleschi. He also wrote works on sculpture, De Statua, and an influential work on architecture, De Re Aedificatoria. The latter had 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.

He died at Rome. His life was described in Giorgio Vasari's Vite.

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