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Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (1452-1519) was born in Vinci, a Tuscan town near Florence. His father, Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci, was a local notary; his mother, Caterina, was a peasant woman. Leonardo's birth was an illegitimate one. His father eventually married a 16 year old girl, who died while Leonardo was still a youth; the father eventually married four times, and Leonardo lived at various times with his mother, father, grandparents and uncle. He received a rudimentary education that included Latin and mathematics. He loved to draw and he also began sculpting at an early age, producing "clay heads of smiling women and children" that were still being cast and sold by a local workshop 80 years later. He is known to have been working in the employment of Verrocchio in 1476, when Leonardo was accused and acquitted of sodomy with a male model (and probably male prostitute)--a crime that carried the death sentence at the time. The charges may have led to Leonardo remaining celibate for much (if not the remainder) of his life; however, other historians claim that the artist probably "remained a practicing homosexual." Leonardo has been described as "lovable" and a "sparkling conversationalist."
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