Francesco di Giorgio Martini

  • (Sienese), 1439 - 1501
  • Artist
  • Italian

The coiners of the term "a true Renaissance man" might have had versatile Francesco di Giorgio in mind: he was an architect, painter, sculptor, and military theoretician. At a time when Sienese artists were little known outside their native city, he worked at courts in Urbino, Naples, and Milan, where he met Leonardo da Vinci.

Francesco probably trained with painter and sculptor Vecchietta; his earliest dated works are manuscript illuminations. Mournful eyes, a halting linear flow in drapery and hair, delicately awkward posing of necks and hands, and classically inspired architecture characterize his style.

More sophisticated than his paintings, Francesco's sculpture shows acquaintance with earlier Florentine masters such as Donatello and Lorenzo Ghiberti, along with his contemporary Antonio del Pollaiuolo.

By the 1480s Francesco was among Italy's leading architects. Working in Urbino for Federigo da Montefeltro by 1477, Francesco served as a diplomat, sculpted bronze reliefs, built 136 military fortresses, and probably completed the ducal palace.

Francesco authored the first important Western writings on military engineering, works keenly studied by Leonardo and others.