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Leonardo da Vinci

Review

Leonardo da Vinci

At the crux of art and science, New York Times bestselling author Walter Isaacson interprets the life of innovator Leonardo da Vinci with the same creativity and imagination by which he lived. In this unconventional biography, the reader can explore the biological and anatomical studies, along with the technological and artistic achievements, he advanced through his work.

My first observation about LEONARDO DA VINCI is how excellently constructed it is. There are many impressive elements involving the concept of the book itself. It is sturdy in design, with a close-up of da Vinci’s face on the front cover and a version of his Vitruvian Man on the back. One can dispute the dimensions of da Vinci’s ideal male figure drawing, yet one thing is firm --- the book is hefty in size, extensive and worth it. Isaacson is not messing around, as he visibly wants to piece together a serious documentary on da Vinci’s life. Inside, the pages are thick and friendly to turn, and the text is sharply printed and easily read.

"You only have to be a person who enjoys imagination to appreciate LEONARDO DA VINCI, and the history behind it can allow you to get a better sense of where it came from."

LEONARDO DA VINCI sometimes reminds me more of an art book than a biography. The color and clarity of the many illustrations are reminiscent of contemporary art books printed in the last few years --- significantly improved from those of the past. The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper are included. To add context, a few works of other artists are there as well. Also, most of the illustrations are of enough size that they can be appreciated fully. The book is well ordered while eclectic enough to keep it interesting. The final product is accessible enough to be on the coffee table, but is brilliant enough that it probably should be on your bookshelf.

da Vinci was rendered an outcast in his era as a gay man and born to a mother who was an unmarried peasant. His idiosyncratic career was achieved through his left drawing hand, and his heterodox lifestyle directed him into taking the risks needed to formulate his wondrous inventions. He was unlike the rest of them, and as a vegetarian he was 500 years ahead of me. In the details, Isaacson provides the complete experience to the reader. There is a personal side of da Vinci revealing the standpoint from which his talents flowed, and there is also a lifetime career --- conceiving some of the greatest creations of his time.

If you want to dig deeper into his life, it is all here, from information about his notebook jottings to scientific explorations. Material on his artistic techniques would be useful to anyone into drawing, illustration, painting or any of the visual arts. You only have to be a person who enjoys imagination to appreciate LEONARDO DA VINCI, and the history behind it can allow you to get a better sense of where it came from. Leonardo da Vinci may have been the most unique among the Renaissance men, and that is quite a distinction.

Reviewed by John Bentlyewski on October 27, 2017

Leonardo da Vinci
by Walter Isaacson

  • Publication Date: October 17, 2017
  • Genres: Biography, History, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1501139150
  • ISBN-13: 9781501139154