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As an artist, Alberti distinguished himself from the ordinary craftsman, educated in workshops.
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In 1435, he began his first major written work, Della pittura, in which, inspired by the burgeoning of pictorial art in Florence in the early 15th century, he analyses the nature of painting and explores the elements of perspective, composition and colour.
In 1438 he began to take a serious interest in architecture, encouraged by the Marchese Leonello d'Este of Ferrara, for whom he built a small triumphal arch to support an equestrian statue of Leonello's father.
His first major architectural commission was in 1446 for the facade of the Rucellai Palace in Florence.
This was followed in 1450 by a commission from Sigismondo Malatesta to transform the Gothic church of San Francesco in Rimini into a memorial chapel, the Tempio Malatestiano.
Leon Battista Alberti was born in 1404 in Genoa to a wealthy Florentine father who had been exiled from his own city, but who was allowed to return in 1428.