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`La belle ferronnière`

he Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci, who is regarded as a noted painter, sculptor, draughtsman, architect and engineer lived during the Renaissance. Besides being an accomplished artist, he was also an avid and highly skilled draughtsman and his surviving drawings (approximately 4,000 sheets) reveal his intelligence, inventive mind and imaginative process. Da Vinci prefers to demonstrate the subtleties and vagaries of light and shade and the sfumato (no harsh outlines and areas blend into one another through miniscule brushstrokes).

`La belle ferronnière (1490-1496) also known as `Portrait of an Unknown Woman` oil on wood, measuring (24 inches × 17 inches) depicts a woman who was the apparent mistress of Francis I of France, married to a certain Le Ferron. Legend has it that the aggrieved husband deliberately infects himself with syphilis which he passes to the king through his wife. It is presently displayed at Musée du Louvre, Paris. m M.L