The Ultimate Renaissance Man
Leonard da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
This weighty six-hundred-page biography attempts to explain why history rates da Vinci as a creative genius. With voluminous source notes and nearly 150 illustrations, it’s evident that well-known biographer Isaacson has done his homework.
Born in 1452, da Vinci was a true Renaissance Man, interested in a multitude of fields from the obvious (painting) to the obscure (flight, the movement of water, anatomy, mechanics, theater). In fact, his very fascination with things other than art caused him to create a relatively small body of work.
“He enjoyed the challenge of conception more than the chore of completion,” and left many commissioned artworks unfinished or never even started. Many of the paintings he did complete were collaborative works with his studio assistants.
Da Vinci was a “misfit — illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, heretical.”
Over the course of his life, he wrote 7,200 pages of notes which are the foundation of this biography. His notebooks are crammed full of sketches, accompanied by his backward (mirror) writing, the result of his left-handedness.
From “The Last Supper” to the “Mona Lisa,” Isaacson gives the reader the background behind the artwork that has made da Vinci famous to this day.
“Leonardo’s signature talent was the ability to convey, by marrying observation with imagination, not only the works of nature but also infinite things that nature never created,” Isaacson writes.
Kerry Pettis is a retired elementary school teacher and children’s librarian who has lived in Broomfield since 1975. Reading is her favorite occupation.