Leonardo da Vinci

Title: Leonardo da Vinci
Author: Walter Isaacson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; October 2017

Summary/Review: I am not generally a reader of biographies, or pretty much any non-fiction so I was very impressed with how interesting this book was. I am not a Da Vinci historian or expert but I am definitely a fan, particularly of his incredibly expressive drawings. 

The author tells the artist’s life story by taking us through the day-to-day life of a working renaissance craftsman-artist. After all, artists have to put food on the table too, and one way to do that was to acquire the patronage of powerful and wealthy merchants, noblemen and church officials. 

We learn that Da Vinci, even though he is widely considered one of the great masters of all time, had very little interest in finishing and delivering his assignments. This lead to some very lean times and a frequent search for patronage. His curiosity about all things scientific and the relationships of creatures and their environments ruled his days as he sought to understand and describe nature, the human anatomy and interestingly enough, a lifelong compulsion to describe the physics of the flow of water. 

In this book he is credited with very forward-thinking treatises on anatomy, the relationship of all things in nature as they relate to humanity and engineering designs hundreds of years in advance of their actual execution. Flying machines, war engines, city planning, the list is seemingly endless. 

But it was the drawing, the notebooks, the analysis of light and dark which really kept me turning the pages. I knew the Master was prolific but I had no idea just how many undeveloped ideas and theories are found in the hundreds of sketchbooks and thousands of pages he left behind. 

Give it a try. I just received my hold on another Isaacson biography about Steve Jobs, the creator of all things Apple. I hope it’s as interesting as the Da Vinci biography.

Recommended by: Mark Z., guest reviewer.

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