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2The Living Earth

From his early youth, Leonardo was fascinated by pinnacles of rocks, carved out by water and eventually turning into gravel and fertile soil, and he came to see water as the chief agent in the formation of the Earth’s surface. As a young boy, he explored the rocky outcroppings, waterfalls, and caves in the Tuscan countryside around Vinci. Later on, they became the defining elements of his personal mythical landscape—the fantastic rock formations that would forever appear in the shadowy backgrounds of his paintings.

Leonardo’s keen awareness of the continual interaction of water and rocks motivated him to undertake extensive studies ...

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