Book review: Leonardo Da Vinci – by Walter Isaacson

So for my first book review I will start with the last book I read. And actually today finished reading, so while the the 525 pages are still fresh in mind. I thought of telling you something about the book and my notes of it. So with out further introduction here we go.

Leonardo Da Vinci – by Walter Isaacson 

To begin. I bought this book because for a long time I found Leonardo Da Vinci intriguing. This because of his famous helicopter and warfare equipment drawings. And not to forget to mention his famous paintings, of the Mona Lisa and the last supper. But there was so much more behind this man and I wanted to know so I got the biography that Bill Gates suggested. He said ”it is one of the biographies that actually talks about what made Leonardo Da Vinci special”.

leonardo da Vinci ( self portret )

Author of the book

The book is written by Walter Isaacson. Before I read this book I did not even know the Author to be honest. But he wrote other famous biographies such as ; Steve jobs, Einstein life of a genius , Benjamin Franklin an American life. And his latest addition to these books is the biography about Leonardo Da Vinci.

Before I started reading. What I knew about Leonardo was, in a slight understatement a bit limited. This book actually surprised me, With so much information about Leonardo. That I even got to admire this man more now. And after reading this I wished, more people find life just as intriguing as this man. To keep it simple and short would do this man no justice. He lived a full life and was way ahead of his time.

His time was 1452 till 1519. With ahead of his time i mean the following. Not so long ago they discovered that he actually was correct about certain scientific facts he discovered. Facts of which we only started to discover now. The only reason we did not know it before is because, even tough he wrote al his discoveries and important things down, in his notebook. He never actually published them for the public to see. This and more is all beautifully explained in the book. The author even went so far to give detailed descriptions of what the drawings show. And what scientific date belongs to them.

Nerves and Ventricles of the brain

what did I come to learn about Leonardo da Vinci ?

Well for starters and this might sound dumb to others. I did not know that his name is just Leonardo. And that the last part Da Vinci, actually means from Vinci. This being the place where he was born. This was the first chapter so the new information, for me started flooding in. And with flooding in I mean there was allot I did not know about the master of all trades. For example, the helicopter drawing of which I thought. That it was an invention intended to work for public. Was most likely to be a prop in one of his theater plays. If you are reading this and are thinking. Wait theater plays? Then you are on the same line I was when reading this book. It still makes me smile the discoveries of all these little gems, of information about Leonardo.

What else did the renaissance man do?

I already wrote about a couple of things he did. But lets make a list of all the things he was associated with during his lifetime. and with each note I will include a little bit of information. But for more information about each of these subjects I suggest reading the book. Not only will you find the information in it. But it is also al told in a Chronological way. This makes it especially good. Since you can see what kept him busy and and how he grew in all his attributes. Or came to do certain things.

  • Painter ( The Mona Lisa, The Last Supper. And so much more )
  • Sculptor ( Sforza horse , Trivulzio Monument )
  • Architect ( Study of Cupola of Cathedral Milan and many more drawings)
  • Anatomist ( Fun fact this started off because he wanted to be able to paint realistic muscle movements. For the bodies he painted human and animals. )
  • Scientist ( He asked himself simple questions he noted down. like why is the sky blue? and found ways to answers these things correctly in his time )
  • Geologist ( He was the first one to discover correctly that the earth is made out of different layers, These layers resembling different eras. He even worked this in some of his paintings )
  • Cartographer ( He made a map of Imola so detailed, We actually use the same standards he used for that map. Also he drew many other topographic views )
  • Inventor ( Self propelled cart, Armored tank , Flying machine, Parachute. And again so much more )
  • Engineer ( He solved issues with technical knowledge, and made detailed drawings of them. )
  • Theatre stage and costume designer ( Festa del Paradiso and more of which again there notes and drawings )
  • Musician ( He even invented and played his own instruments. According to notes of bystanders he played them beautifully )
  • Botanist ( He made many detailed drawings and notes about flowers and plants , this with notes )
  • Mathematician ( The Vitruvian Man and many more of his manuscripts about geometric shapes )
  • Teacher ( This because he got his own workshop with disciples. To paint and draw his creations in copies or a different light )
  • Writer ( Although never published. He actually wrote his scientific notes in like a book form, and there are notes that say he wanted to publish them )
Sant’Anna, la Vergine e il Bambino con l’agnellino ( The Virgin and Child with St. Anne )

Jack of all trades

When you talk about a Jack of all trades. I am mainly amazed that he found the time and perseverance for still searching for the unknown. After fifty or more years. Almost forgot to mention while you are reading on the worlds wanderer, Leonardo did Wander quite a bit he was born in Vinci but he moved a couple of times. to Florence , Milan , Florence again and back to Milan. To make his next stop in Rome, And to spend his final years in France. We all can learn something from him in my opinion. This book made me realize how easy we take things for granted. Without even questioning how it came to be like that or how things work. Did you ever feel need to describe the tongue of the woodpecker? Well Leonardo did its one of his notes. And it shows he was always curious to find answers where others would not look. And in my honest opinion we are still not looking for it. After a certain age for some reason, most of us stop being curious about things surrounding us. There is a quote of a Famous Astrophysicist I would like to share on the matter. ” Kids are born curious about the the world . What adults primarily do in the presence of kids is unwittingly thwart the curiosity of children” Neill de Grasse Tyson. What I am trying to get at is to never stop being curious about how things work. Just like Leonardo Da Vinci did.

If after reading this story. You want to learn more about Leonardo Da Vinci, maker of the most famous painting in the world. I really suggest reading this book by Walter Isaacson. In my opinion it is a great read. After reading the book, I feel like I do not only have a bigger understanding about Leonardo Da Vinci. But also a growing appreciation of art, and the discoveries you can make in life. If you are alert and on the search for what is happening around you.

Sunday 23-12-18

Again if after reading this blog post, and my first book review. You have questions, comments notes or suggestions. Or even just writing corrections please feel free to let me know. I really can use the feedback. And of course I hope you enjoyed the read, and to see you on the next post.

Matthijs

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