Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Leonardo (Art History Project)

Leonardo the Artist and the Man by Serge Bramly

This book was an excellent biography of an exceedingly complex man.  It is very readable. While including information on daily life and politics of Italy during Leonardo's life, it avoids going into minute detail.  The author clearly indicates when he is speculating on some aspect of Leonardo's life and work.  His life was certainly one of constant investigation and imagination. He was an illegitimate child, he worked as an apprentice in Verrochio's studio,  he felt unappreciated in Florence & relocated to Milan.  The book includes many little vignettes which give the reader a flavor of what life was like at the time and even more what Leonardo was like. For example,  he signed a contract with a certain monastery to produce a very staid, stiff Madonna and Child but it was obvious from the beginning that he had no intention of producing such a painting;  what he did produce was the masterpiece, The Madonna of the Rocks. His interests were as varied as can be imagined--from anatomy to astronomy to machines of war to horses of bronze--everything interested his inventive mind. 
I am neither an artist nor an art historian. I found this book a wonderful introduction to the genius that was Leonardo da Vinci. My only wish is that there had been more color plates included in the book. 

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