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Leonardo's Universe: The Renaissance World of Leonardo DaVinci Hardcover – January 6, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426202857
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426202858
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 9.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bulent Atalay is a scientist and artist with roots in Turkey, England, and the United States. He is a professor of physics at the University of Mary Washington, an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia, and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He is the author of Math and the Mona Lisa (Smithsonian Books, 2004), and a frequent lecturer on the genius of Leonardo.

Keith Wamsley, is trained in classics and literature. He teaches secondary school in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and was a contributing editor on Math and the Mona Lisa (Smithsonian Books, 2004).

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Customer Reviews

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The illustrations and photographs are exceptionally well chosen.
Robert Stegeman
Atalay and Wamsley, Leonardo's Universe This stunning book is a work of art that will enhance the beauty of any coffee table or library shelf.
Alice Calaprice
Absorbing it provides the reader with an intensely educational experience, and the education you get from it is important.
Peter Shea

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert Stegeman on May 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
There are many reasons to read this wonderful book. It has the gorgeous graphics of an elegant coffee table book but is also a lively, rigorous and informative narrative one wants to read in the comfort of his or her den. The authors are Renaissance men themselves and these qualities are reflected in the book. This account of Leonardo's life and the world in which he lived is clearly written and will appeal to the layman as well as to scholars. The illustrations and photographs are exceptionally well chosen. The narrative is enhanced by scores of supplementary vignettes such as, "Ideal Proportions", "Leonardo's Mirror Text", "Pyramidal Composition", "Mathematical Underpinnings",and "Leonardo as an Urban Planner". This is the special sort of book that never loses its freshness.

Robert H. Stegeman, Academic Dean (retired), St. Andrew's School
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Cassanova on February 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I am just beginning to inhale this huge volume of Leonardo's history, insights, art and science. It's truly fascinating reading with stunningly beautiful drawings, paintings and photographs. Each page is a visual delight!! It is a treasured addition to my collection of art and science books and an inspiration to my photographic visions. However, "Leonardo's Universe", is more than the usual historical review of da Vinci's genius. It is an inspiration to all artists and scientists who endeavor to transcend current perceptions of art and scientific knowledge and leap beyond incremental approaches.

The creative connection between art and science was one of the themes that was exploited by the acclaimed NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC). The NIAC was funded by NASA from 1998 through August 2007 to inspire, select and fund revolutionary advance concepts for future aerospace endeavors. The NIAC expanded on the creative genius of numerous scientists and artists from da Vinci to modern day Einstein and Picasso, and others, to inspire thinking and concepts that could have significant impact on future aerospace missions. Bulent Atalay's book "Math and the Mona Lisa" was one of the primary references used by NIAC as an example of the connection between art, math and science. His latest book, co-authored with Keith Wamsley, will also be an essential reference and inspiration for creative scientists and "techno" artists and a treasured addition to any library focused on art and science.

Robert A. Cassanova, PhD
Former Director, NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter Shea on November 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book because of it's alluring cover, and wasn't expecting what was inside. I have always been fascinated by history so I expected that a book on Leonardo would be interesting and worth my time. I wasn't prepared for the stunning pictures of the art and architecture of the Leonardo's universe, and the very cogent explanation the author makes for the centrality of the Renaissance and Leonardo in particular in the western tradition.
I can not recommend this book strongly enough. It's is beautifully written and beautifully illustrated. Absorbing it provides the reader with an intensely educational experience, and the education you get from it is important. Knowing about the Renaissance and Leonardo's critical role in it is very important for people who want a liberal arts education. This book makes the significance of this period and the giants who inhabited it accessible and meaningful. Get it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jason Golomb VINE VOICE on July 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This coffee table-sized book presents in full glossy color the entirety of Leonardo DaVinci's life, work and thinking, while providing parallel social and historical context of Renaissance Italy. True to National Geographic's reputation, the imagery is the real highlight of this bio and not only contains numerous images from Leonardo's surviving notebooks, but his artwork, designs, as well as modern images from relevant locations in Italy.

Author Atalay presents tightly written analyses of some of Leonardo's most important works. He brings to bear the latest technical analyses of Leonardo's extant paintings and drawings which help resolve artistic and historical mysteries - some of which have circulated for hundreds of years. Specifically, we're provided high tech evidence surrounding Leonardo's "Ginerva", where the FBI provided resources to confirm the existence of DaVinci's fingerprints on the dried 500-year old paint. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. was also able to identify inconsistencies in the two-sided painting which led to the discovery that about 1/3 of the painting was actually missing. Experts were able to digitally blend the missing piece with drawings found among Leonardo's sketchbooks to confirm the missing art. Atalay also present a terrific study of Leonardo's "Virgin of the Rocks", providing a nice comparison between his original version and a second version likely painted by students at his school.

My only wish would be for deeper analyses (textually and visually) in some cases, but understandably, the goal of this book isn't to provide a treatise on each individual Leonardo masterpiece. Naturally the book also details the history behind and artistic critique of his most famous paintings - "The Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper".
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