The interesting and robust biography of Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson takes a look into the history of the man, as much as possible, based on the notebooks and contemporary sources of information as could be done by a scholar publishing a work on the influential painter, inventor, and polymath. The book Leonardo da Vinci was published in hardback form in the fall of 2017.
(Leonardo da Vinci biographer Walter Isaacson)
My journey into reading Leonardo da Vinci began with the awareness that he was an Italian Renaissance painter influential largely from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century famous for such paintings as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. I had some sense for his larger influence into more scientific inquiries, which led to the Vitruvian Man drawing, though not much else.
(The Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci)
Isaacson takes us into a review of Leonardo da Vinci that explores not only the facts and relevance of the man, but as much as possible into how he thought and experienced the world. The portrait of the man comes through, likely as much as is possible from roughly 525-years after much of the history for the man began.
(The Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci)
Da Vinci, as an illegitimate son of a Florence legal notary. Da Vinci largely self-taught in early life, having also been alienated from much of the legitimate offspring of his father for much of his adult life. That the influences for becoming a Renaissance painter was less about returning to past forms of high art in his time through an appreciation of the past was largely an accident. The patronage opportunities and shifting sense of timing and loyalty shifts for da Vinci were parts of his genius.
(The Vitruvian Man drawing by Leonardo da Vinci)
Independent wealth was never a largely comfortable proposition for Leonardo da Vinci, though he did find ways to have intimate relationships through his adult life. One of the earlier known relationships was with an that later became an intimate named Salai. Salai was the name used throughout the Isaacson biography, though the name itself was a nickname that loosely to thief, liar, glutton, and other less than flattering terms. Upon death, half of Leonardo da Vinci‘s estate was passed to Salai.
(A Salai drawing by Leonardo da Vinci)
Much of the further biography delves into how Leonardo da Vinci explored curiosities to the point of obsession. Much of the knowledge that da Vinci explored could have made the man significant and memorable in its own right, even if the heavily famous and significant paintings included within this review never occurred. In part, the fame of da Vinci owes itself to these obsessions and their expression in the painting Mona Lisa.
(Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson)
The innovation of the polymath da Vinci were well expressed and clearly understood to me as I read this biography of the man. The level of detail probably isn’t for everyone, though I personally took no exception to the investigation and analysis. I feel that I am the better informed and more appreciative for this experience. I recommend the reading of the book Leonardo da Vinci.
My overall rating is 4.0-stars-out-of-5.
Matt – Sunday, September 9, 2018