Leonardo da Vinci

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Oct 17, 2017 - Biography & Autobiography - 624 pages
18 Reviews
The #1 New York Times bestseller

“A powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life...a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it.” —The New Yorker

“Vigorous, insightful.” —The Washington Post

“A masterpiece.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Luminous.” —The Daily Beast

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.

His creativity, like that of other great innovators, came from having wide-ranging passions. He peeled flesh off the faces of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips, and then painted history’s most memorable smile. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. Isaacson also describes how Leonardo’s lifelong enthusiasm for staging theatrical productions informed his paintings and inventions.

Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Cariola - LibraryThing

A very solid, well researched biography of the painter, sculptor, inventor, architect, and all around genius. Isaacson delves into the connections between Leonardo and his family, patrons, lovers ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ajlewis2 - LibraryThing

This was a difficult book for me to get through, because there was so much detail about his art and how he did it and what it meant, etc. Those who want to know about that will find it in this book ... Read full review

Contents

Can Also Paint
1
The Nature of Man
212
Virgin of the Rocks
223
The Milan Portraits
236
The Science of Art
260
The Last Supper
279
Personal Turmoil
293
Florence Again
299
Anatomy Round Two
394
The World and Its Waters
425
Rome
444
Pointing the Way
463
The Mona Lisa
475
France
495
Conclusion
517
CODA Describe the tongue of the woodpecker
525

Saint Anne
315
Paintings Lost and Found
325
Cesare Borgia
335
Hydraulic Engineer
347
Michelangelo and the Lost Battles
355
Return to Milan
380
Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Sources
527
Notes
533
Illustration Credits
571
Index
573
Copyright

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About the author (2017)

Walter Isaacson, University Professor of History at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chairman of CNN, and editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci; The Innovators; Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Facebook: Walter Isaacson, Twitter: @WalterIsaacson

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