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Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment, and Design

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ISBN-13: 978-0691129051
ISBN-10: 0691129053
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

For most of us, the notebooks of Leonard da Vinci present a perplexing array of seemingly unrelated drawings and texts legible only in a mirror. Thankfully, Oxford art historian Kemp elucidates what he calls Leonardo's "thinking on paper." In this handsome reproduction of notebook pages, Kemp annotates the great Renaissance artist and inventor's brilliant doodles, which range across a wide intellectual landscape from geometry and the effects of light on objects to human anatomy, perpetual motion machines, and Leonardo's methodical preparations for the technical challenges of masterpieces such as the Mona Lisaand The Last Supper. By understanding the forces that make bodies, water, and space what they are, Leonardo was able to re-create them persuasively in his art.

Kevin Nance
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"Leonardo is a glimpse into the mind of an almost mythical genius. Kemp offers us a way of considering how artists and scientists have intuited visual truths in the past, reminds us that the past and the present are connected, and warns us against the potential tyranny of the newest digitized images that, though often beautiful and beguiling, are still man-made and not infallible."--Bettyann Holtzmann Kevles, Scientific American

"A landmark in Leonardo scholarship. To leaf through it is to succumb gradually to deepening degrees of astonishment."--Sebastian Smee, The Australian

"Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment, Design by Martin Kemp . . . explores the boundary between art and science. . . . Kemp, a leading scholar, analyzes how the artist thought on paper, arguing that the drawings reveal how his mind worked. The book gives an infinitely . . . convincing account of Leonardo's secrets."--Martin Gayford,

"A handsome and fascinating book. . . . Here, Martin Kemp, the world's leading authority on Leonardo, reveals the intimate relationship between art and science that was at the core of the master's genius."--Sasha Roeder Mah, Edmonton Journal

"A strong addition to any collection and a proper tribute to one of history's most visually inventive minds. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"Kemp orders Leonardo's thoughts in a way that, plausibly, Leonardo himself would have favored, had the artist ever settled for one way to organize them. In fact, it is thanks to Kemp's discerning mind and scholarly ingenuity that Leonardo's thoughts reach the general public with the order, clarity, and coherency that has always eluded them."--Francesca Fiorani, Renaissance Quarterly

"A renowned Leonardo authority, Kemp expands on his familiar theses about the artist's preference for experience over theory and his conviction that function determines form. Kemp's deciphering of Leonardo's infamous backward script leads to fascinating conclusions."--Victor Swoboda, Montreal Gazette

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (October 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691129053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691129051
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 10 x 13.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,049,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By germano on May 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really liked this book. It's great for reading or just browsing through. Excelent quality and excelent illustrations. Although quite large, thus a bit awkawrd for handling sometimes, the size helps to see all the details.
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Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment, and Design
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