Book Review — Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Posted by Books Above the Bend on

Why We Picked It

  • For as long as we can remember we have had a fascination
    with Leonardo da Vinci. Last year we attended an exhibit of a large collection of da Vinci’s sketches in Milan without any crowds and it rekindled our interest in learning more about the artist
  • Walter Isaacson is a fantastic biographer
  • The book itself is beautifully produced(kudos to Simon & Schuster). There are numerous, well printed illustrations that help the reader
    fully understand what the author, Walter Isaacson, is trying to get across (kudos to Simon & Schuster)

Contrary to What We Thought

  • The Leonardo that we learned about in school growing up is not the man described in this biography
  • He was a scatterbrained but brilliant dreamer
  • He had trouble with math
  • He was more well known in his day for the dramatic productions he helped produce and many of his ‘machine’ sketches were actually used in performances
  • When he offered his services to a new patron, his ability to paint was typically the last thing mentioned
  • He was such a perfectionist that he had trouble finishing and letting go of nearly every commission he received and every project that he undertook
  • It was a fascination with anatomy, water and a never ending search to find common threads between heaven, earth and humans that ruled [or tormented…] Da Vinci’s mind over the course of his relatively long life
  • As much of a mythical figure that we hold him as today, he was not above petty feuds and grudges as could be witnessed in his spats with Michelangelo (although neither of these men may be mere mortals…)

For those interested in doing their own research, check out Open Culture’s site containing links to digitized version of da Vinci’s sketchbooks (courtesy of The British Museum)

0 comments

Leave a comment