Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci

Book - 2017 | First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition October 2017.
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"He was history's most creative genius. What secrets can he teach us? The author of the acclaimed bestsellers Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography. Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo's astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo's genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy. He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But in his own mind, he was just as much a man of science and technology. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history's most creative genius"--
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2017.
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition October 2017.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781501139154
1501139150
Branch Call Number: 709.2 LEONA-I
Characteristics: xii, 599 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Take your time with this beautiful book. What an extraordinary man who lived a remarkable life.

A celebrity memoir. (Bit of a stretch, I know)


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w
writermala
May 12, 2020

I liked Walter Isaacson's Biography of Steve Jobs and that is what made me opt to read this Bio. It was a pleasant surprise since I learned a lot about Leonardo da Vinci that I previously did not. For example, even though I had herd about Leonardo as an artist, engineer and anatomist I did not know bout his elaborate stage productions. this seems to be what he enjoyed most and these were also learning experiences. It became clear that Leonardo's hand was not able to execute to perfection the things he imagined. So, great were his fantasies.Leonardo was "more easily distracted by the future than he was focused on the present," and this was why he so often did not complete his commissions. Leonardo is said to have remarked poignantly, "While I thought I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die." Since Leonardo did not have much schooling to speak of he relied on experience to be his teacher and what a teacher that proved to be! Isaacson remarks that one mark of a great mind is its willingness to change it and this is the guiding light of da vinci's mind.
What a great person and what a great Biography!

c
carolwu96
Apr 19, 2020

Have you ever encountered a book that you enjoyed while actually reading but balked at the thought of continuing?⁣
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Well, this is that kind of book.⁣
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It is well researched and carefully compiled. Its sources span from the 16th-century art historian Giorgio Vasari to current academics and museum curators, from Leonardo’s private notebooks to official records such as wills and archives.⁣
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The book follows a roughly chronological order as it tracks Leonardo’s artistic, military, engineering and scientific endeavors. We all knew that he had tried to make flying machines and dissected cadavers, but did we know that he also discovered the way the aortic valve worked and invented a needle-grinding machine? Me neither.⁣
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In the introduction, Isaacson called Leonardo a “mortal” as well as a genius. His genius lay in his persistent pursuit of knowledge, not only for the sake of creating but also for knowledge itself. Leonardo was also able to combine his understandings in both the arts and the sciences to create a holistic philosophical system on the world. Intellectually, he was simply brilliant.⁣
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However, Leonardo was also a mortal in that he was easily distracted and left most of his works unfinished and discoveries unpublished. I greatly appreciated this take, but Isaacson’s structuring of the biography made this theme (and all the aforementioned themes) so repetitive that I felt like he was just proving the same points over and over again.⁣
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Another downside of the book (which Isaacson himself acknowledged) is Isaacson’s vulnerability to the Leonardo Effect, the phenomenon that, due to Leonardo’s intelligence, even potential mistakes are analyzed as if they were intentionally executed. This really bothers me because Isaacson is not making strong arguments for the artistic decisions here and, rather than leaving them as potential mistakes, insists on praising Leonardo all over again.⁣⁣
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Overall, this book is detailed and meticulously researched but, as you can see, one I should have borrowed instead of bought.

For more books and reviews, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead !

c
conpenn
Feb 21, 2020

Excellently researched, but the caveat is that it's extremely technical and detailed which makes it arduous to plow through.

b
bothelllibro
Feb 04, 2020

A long read but well worth it, I hope to have the time to re-read!!

c
Chad_Blevins
Jan 26, 2020

Not what I thought it’d be. I wish more was known about da Vinci, but the take away from this is that he is still a big mystery.

IndyPL_SteveB Oct 01, 2019

Fascinating, wise, and beautiful biography of Leonardo. It is hard to imagine a better one. Isaacson has spent years traveling the world and reading all of the notebooks of Leonardo to give the fullest portrait of the artist, engineer, anatomist, knowledge seeker, and person that he was. This has revelations about the depth of Leonardo’s genius on every page.

A big surprise for me was that Leonardo’s original artistic and engineering inspirations were *theatrical*. His first real job was as a teenage apprentice to the artist Verocchio in Florence. Many of Verocchio’s commissions were for presenting elaborate pageants for the Medici family, and Leonardo joined in enthusiastically. This love of theatrical performance began his experience in painting and engineering and lasted his entire life. Isaacson is convinced that most of Leonardo’s early drawings of flying machines, bird models, and weaponry were actually for theatrical devices used in the various pageants.

Isaacson points out that Leonardo’s greatest asset was his insatiable curiosity about the way nature worked. Hydrodynamics, physics, geology, fossils, the anatomy of humans and animals, and the psychology of emotions were all areas he explored and in which he made important discoveries.

And of course, there are his few paintings, including what Isaacson calls the two most famous paintings in the world: *The Last Supper* and *The Mona Lisa.* Isaacson goes into great detail about the stories behind the paintings and the way Leonardo’s years of scientific exploration factored into them.

k
krsteinb
Feb 19, 2019

I cringe when I read Leonardo referred to merely as “da Vinci.” Vinci is a town in Tuscany. Knowledgeable/credible historians always refer to the artist as simply "Leonardo" or "Leonardo da Vinci" but never "Da Vinci". Leonardo did not have a last name so it was and is common to refer to him by citing the town of his birthplace, Vinci.

a
asishskaria
Dec 16, 2018

Epic tale of singular inferno of talent and curiosity. The variety and depth of his work is awe inspiring.
Walter Isaacson have put in work to collect and decode Leonardo's work.

Every body should be gifted this book, the pictures and details is a delight. I am sad to finish this book but happy to have read it.

b
bette108
Sep 30, 2018

I've read several biographies on Leonardo da Vinci, but this was the most pleasant to read because it's well organized, full of interesting details and illustrations, and well written. In other words, I not only didn't have to struggle through it, but I came to see just how advanced Leonardo was for his time (he obviously had an incredibly curious, imaginative and analytical mind) and I gained a fuller understanding politics, wars and customs of the late 1400's in Italy.

superglu2 Sep 11, 2018

It seems a little strange to read a somewhat "celebrity" style biography of Leonardo (Isaacson is a fanboy!), but the author's contention that Da Vinci shares a lot with Steve Jobs is not that far fetched. Isaacson does a good job discussing what makes the paintings really ground breaking for the time.

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