Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Leonardo da Vinci : Flights of the Mind: A Biography Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 18, 2004

See all 9 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover, Bargain Price, November 18, 2004
$24.99 $25.07

This is a bargain book and quantities are limited. Bargain books are new but could include a small mark from the publisher and an Amazon.com price sticker identifying them as such. Details
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Check out The Amazon Book Review, our editors' fresh new blog featuring interviews with authors, book reviews, quirky essays on book trends, and regular columns by our editors. Explore now

Special Offers and Product Promotions


Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0670033456
  • ASIN: B000EHRN2C
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,700,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nicholl aims for the man behind the myth in this penetrating, highly detailed biography, which recognizes da Vinci's "mysterious greatness as an artist, scientist and philosopher" but avoids hagiography (and nearly steers clear of the word "genius"). The illegitimate child of a Tuscan peasant girl and a local notary, da Vinci (1452–1519) was apprenticed as a teen to Florence sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio. Nicholl (Somebody Else: Arthur Rimbaud in Africa) conjectures convincingly about Leonardo's early career, though he tends to dwell overlong on technical aspects of Renaissance art production. Leonardo established a Florentine studio in 1477, but it was not until he moved to Milan five years later that he began to produce his iconic works: the painting Virgin of the Rocks, the famous Vitruvian Man drawing. Nicholl chronicles the production of The Last Supper and makes a firm statement about the Mona Lisa's identity. Numerous questions about Leonardo's life remain, unavoidably, unanswered, but Nicholl fills in the gaps with insight into the artist's cultural milieu, offering tidbits about Leonardo's sexuality, the sordid goings-on at the Borgia court and the multifarious fruits of the artist's astonishingly fertile curiosity and imagination. Nicholl's attention to da Vinci's polymathic pursuits, as well as his own translations from the artist's numerous notebooks, are some of this dense but readable volume's most compelling aspects. Illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Forget Dan Brown’s fictional Da Vinci Code (**** May/June 2003); here’s the real deal. Award-winning author Nicholl draws on Leonardo’s notebooks to delve deep inside the mind of the beloved Renaissance icon. Celebrating Leonardo’s life and projects with contagious excitement and putting his achievements in the context of the Italian Renaissance as a whole, Nicholl considers Leonardo’s inspirations and influences. If we learn little new about Leonardo’s most famous works or his competition with Michelangelo, we gain valuable insight into the “cool, interior, ungraspable” creative process that raised Leonardo head and shoulders above his peers in most fields. Even with the spate of recent books on this master, Leonardo da Vinci stands out. It “isn’t merely a lovely book; it’s Leonardesque” (New York Times Book Review).

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This book is one of the best biographies that I have read.
G. Heydenrych
We found the subject of da Vinci fascinating in the many details of this book.
L. M. Keefer
This book does a good job of presenting the information that's available.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 97 people found the following review helpful By C. Middleton on May 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is has to be one of the most thorough biographies about Leonardo ever written. The most widely read biography, Leonardo: The Artist and the Man"(1988) by the Florentine, Serge Bramly, first translated by Jean-Claude Lattes into French, then later translated into English by Sian Reynolds, and published in England in 1995, was highly considered to be the definitive work on the quintessential renaissance man. Having read Bramly's work in 1996, I considered it to be rough going, strangely dense throughout; due, I expect because of its two translations from the original Italian. Reading translations and not knowing the original language can be a dubious experience for the ignorant reader, as particular words and phrases at times appear out of place. That said, reading Nicholl's passionate and adeptly written life history of Leonardo, combining historical investigation with literary speculation, one would have to admit that this work far out shines its predecessor in terms of its accessibility, detail and style. This is a formidable study of the great man and his work.

Nicholl's certainly did his research on his subject, pouring over Leonardo's Codex Atlanticus, that displays much of da Vinci's multi-varied interests, ideas and doodles, which reveals the linear and non-linear flow of his mind. The master had so many thoughts and ideas endlessly flowing that it is no wonder that he failed to complete many of his projects and paintings. Nicholl, unlike so many speculators before him, refrained from psychoanalysing this great genius.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There was a TV series that aired on CBS in the Seventies about the life of Leonardo. I remember it made me feel excited about the possibilities of learning, discovering, and creating. For years, I searched for the series on video tape and finally found it unexpectedly in a fabulous art supply store called Flax, in San Francisco. Watching it again gave me the same feeling that anything is possible. Reading Charles Nicholls's new biography of Leonardo gave me a similar feeling.

I have never understood the people who criticize Leonardo for starting so many things and not finishing them. If we knew only of the works he had finished, we would still consider him a genius. Perhaps abandoning a venture that he didn't consider worth finishing freed him up for an even better project. Maybe he kept his mind sharp by flitting from one thing to another. If he were alive today, I have no doubt that we would cure his attention deficit disorder with drugs.

Charles Nicholls is a careful biographer and qualifies all his conclusions about Leonardo. This is probably wise when dealing with a subject who lived five hundred years ago. Still, Nicholls is straightforward concerning Leonardo's relationships with his students and others.

In addition to the usual stories of Leonardo's fascination with nature as a boy and his failure to build a giant bronze equestrian statue, Nicholls has some new information. We find out what kind of jokes Leonardo told and that he was a vegetarian for the last half of his life. Nicholls includes Freud's speculations on Leonardo's relationships with his parents and the effect that may have played in the composition of his paintings.

But Nicholls sticks mostly to primary sources for his information, including Leonardo's many notebooks and letters.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Visa on June 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Nicholl manages to give a good view of the personality of Leonardo da Vinci, by describing what is known about da Vinci's childhood and then proceeding to describe his career as a *painter* in chronological order. Although in describing character Nicholl occasionally falls in depth into Freudian mumbojumbo, he has to be complemented that he does recognize that it is only fantastical speculation. The style of Nicholl is enjoyable and easy to read.

If you want to a good description of da Vinci the painter and his career, then this is the book for you. Nicholl goes in detail to the creation of many paintings of da Vinci, both those well known to general public and those less well known.

However, if you want a biography of da Vinci the multitalented man, then this book is definitely not for you. More space is given for description of a single art project that never came to be than is given to all the inventions and scientific contributions of da Vinci. As an example, Nicholl mentions that in the field of anatomy da Vinci's original contribution was greatest, and then proceeds to give six pages and two illustrations on the topic. And, unfortunately, most of these six pages is on the usefulness of the study of anatomy to a painter. More room is given to speculations about the possible identity of a female model in a painting lost hundreds of years ago than is given to the actual contribution of da Vinci to the field of anatomy. There is no description of the state of anatomical knowledge at the time and no description of how Leonardo added to this knowledge.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?