Leonardo da Vincis reputation as an inventor and scientist, and the complexity of his creativity and personality, have sometimes almost overshadowed the importance of his aims and techniques as a painter.
This catalogue focuses on a crucial period in the 1480s and 90s when, as a salaried court artist to Duke Ludovico Sforza in the city-state of Milan, freed from the pressures of making a living in the commercially minded Florentine republic, Leonardo produced some of the most celebrated and influential work of his career. The Last Supper, his two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks, and the beautiful portrait of Ludovicos mistress, Cecilia Gallerani (The Lady with an Ermine), were paintings that set a new standard for his Milanese contemporaries. Leonardos style was magnified, through collaboration and imitation, to become the visual language of the regime, and by the time of his return to Florence in 1500, his status was utterly transformed.