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Leonardo: The Artist and the Man + Leonardo's Notebooks: Writing and Art of the Great Master + Leonardo da Vinci: Notebooks (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 493 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140231757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140231755
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English
Original Language: French

Customer Reviews

The whole books reads like it.
Kendal B. Hunter
This is by far one of the most readable and well written biographies I have read and I applaud Mr Bramly for writing such a scholarly information-pacted page turner.
C. Chang
This alone is the reason that I would recommend it to others.
Natascope

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

188 of 195 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Loveitt on April 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Serge Bramly is a man of his word. The subtitle of this book is "The Artist And The Man," and that is what we get, in a very evenhanded account. There are many fascinating anecdotes and tidbits concerning both the work and the personality of Leonardo. My favorite story concerned the painting of "The Last Supper." Mr. Brambly explains that Leonardo liked to base his figures on real people. He strolled the streets of Milan and sketched many faces in order to come up with the models for Christ's disciples. It was smooth sailing until he tried to find someone "evil" looking enough to base Judas on. Apparently Leonardo dragged his feet on completing the fresco for a year while he searched for "his Judas." The prior of the convent who was keeping tabs on the notoriously slow-working Leonardo finally complained to the Duke of Milan regarding the delay. Called in front of the Duke to explain himself, Leonardo had this to say: "...I have been going every day to the Borghetto, where Your Excellency knows that all the ruffians of the city live. But I have not yet been able to discover a villain's face corresponding to what I have in mind. Once I find that face, I will finish the painting in a day. But if my research remains fruitless, I shall take the features of the prior who came to complain about me to Your Excellency and who would fit the requirements perfectly. But I have been hesitating a long time whether to make him a figure of ridicule in his own convent." In this quote, we get an idea of both Leonardo's working method and his sense of humor. (The Duke, by the way, was delighted by this reply and took Leonardo's side in the matter.) It is impossible to convey the richness of this book in a short review, but Mr.Read more ›
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By STEPHEN MATTOX on April 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Just as a well-filled day brings blessed sleep, so a well-employed life brings a blessed death." These are the words of Leonardo da Vinci, and according to the author, Serge Bramly, would have made the best epitaph for him. What is staggering about Leonardo is not just the volume of what filled his days, but the amazing range of pursuits that filled them. And this must pose a unique challenge to his biographers - a challenge Bramly rises to beautifully. As the title suggests, the primary focus of the book is on art. Bramly examines Leonardo's paintings from technical and aesthetic standpoints, as well as psychologically analyzing the paintings. He cites others who previously did such analysis, including Freud himself. The passages concerning the paintings are simply some of the most enjoyable art history I've read. What is most remarkable is that gradually an image of Leonardo the man emerges through his art. Leonardo's other pursuits (military engineer, city planner, architect, sculptor, anatomist, inventor, to name but some) are also of great interest of course. In these areas, Bramly devotes much space to examining the famous notebooks of Leonardo, and I can say that I have a much better understanding as to the significance and nature of these notebooks than before. The biographical details of Leonardo's life also prove to be quite entertaining. A virtual Who's Who of Renaissance Italy parades through his life, and Bramly gives us an idea of the sort of relationships Leonardo had with them as well as with his own family. Some of the terrain of Leonardo's life is difficult to traverse, his illegitimacy, his homosexuality, his failure to complete so much of what he started, and these issues are dealt with in a straightforward, honest fashion.Read more ›
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful By "smucci" on May 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
The author of this book does a great job in writing this book such that it is fluid and readable without becoming bogged down in dates, details, and other hard to track minutiae. However, if research level detail, in depth analysis and commentary are required, then take a pass on this one as, at best, it can only be used to corroborate facts from other sources.
It also seems as if the author is resisting the tempation to avoid writing his book in such a way that it does not seem to be a hagiography, but unfortunately his efforts falter and crack throughout the book.
In summary, this is a good book for those with a passing interest in Leonardo, or in the period, as it is very readable. But for those looking for research material, this is not the book for you. The book "Leonardo da Vinci, Scientist, Inventor, Artist" by Otto Letze and Thomas Buchsteiner would be more suitable for such a task.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By E. Karasik on September 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
It's been a while since I read this book, but I wanted to write the review to spread the word that this is a fascinating biography, well worth reading. If you're a da Vinci expert, I don't know how much this will add to your knowledge, but for a painter and generalist like me, the art criticism, biography, and historical context were perfectly balanced. Da Vinci was more than just a visionary genius; he was a genuinely charming and hilarious guy. If there's anyone from the past I could meet, it would probably be he. And if there's anyone from the past who I wish could see the modern world, again it would be da Vinci, because his intellectual curiosity would have been so vindicated by what modern science has to offer. While da Vinci was too preoccupied with other projects to concentrate on painting for much of his career, he created a small number of paintings so profound that they have never been surpassed. Personally, I prefer his secular portraits to all others -- ah to have looked over his shoulder while he painted the magnificent Ginevra de' Benci or the Cecilia Gallerani (Lady with the Ermine)! Unfortunately, and I seriously doubt this is due to a defect in research, there isn't that much information available about da Vinci's emotional life, so the author makes careful but limited extrapolations based on fact. I love biography because it's the next best thing to meeting fascinating people, and it doesn't get much better than this.
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