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Leonardo's Notebooks Paperback – October 1, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Leonardo da Vinci is recognized as the quintessential Renaissance Man. A great painter, he was equally prodigious in the fields of architecture, engineering, anatomy, and physical science.


H. Anna Suh has a master's degree in art and archaeology from Princeton University. She was on the curatorial staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has worked on projects for scholarly publications at the Met, New York University's Institute of Fine Arts, the Princeton University Art Museum, and Harvard University. She lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579128173
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579128173
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.1 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #880,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Though there are other publications that include the entire series of notebooks maintained as a diary of thoughts and concepts, puzzles, dreams and creative ideas by the great Leonardo da Vinci, this publication under the astute editorship of H. Anna Suh condenses the notebooks, focusing on most of the truly profound writings of the artist. The quality of production in transposing old paper to new is excellent with respectful use of sepia tone and black and white reproductions that make the book eminently readable.

da Vinci's Notebooks contain some of the more far-reaching thinking of his day, ideas about flight, acoustics, astronomy, and architecture that weren't completely realized for centuries after his death. These are the notes of a genuine genius, a man who not only understood his art but also understood anatomy on a scientific level far beyond the scientists of his time.

But all of this is merely fact and information we have all known for a long time. The reason for recommending this particular volume is the quality of illustration control, the footnotes, the capable translations of da Vinci's notes, and the generous manner in which the material is laid out on the page. This is not only, then, an important book exploring da Vinci's history and mind, it is also an homage to the master's drawing, philosophy, and genteel brain that dared to explore areas of thought long before others attempted. Of all the versions of the da Vinci Notebooks, this is the most artistically sound and readable. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, November 05
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Format: Paperback
It is possible, with only a few pages from Leonardo Da Vinci's many notebooks, to do away with all other books on the subject of information design. In this way, if you plan to "learn so you can practice," this book or any other book on Leonardo's notebooks will not only be sufficient but will outclass everything else.

If you want a book specifically about Leonardo's notebooks, however, this book is all-too truncated. There simply aren't enough representations of his work to really "dig in" and see how he was able to cross intellectual barriers while retaining the same perspective. You'll get a handful of examples, and if you bought any of dozen or so similar books you'll mostly see the same examples repeated in each one.

My recommendation to anyone wanting a semi-thorough collection (for no full collection exists to my knowledge) is to hunt around your local antique and used book stores. I was able to acquire a massive volume of Leonardo's works, called simply Leonardo Da Vinci (published in 1956 by Reynal & Company) which has around 1,500 examples of notebook pages and various sketches along with essays and descriptions in each of the major fields (human and animal anatomy and physiology, warfare, engineering, structures, and more). It cost about twice as much as a modern collection (such as this one) and is many, many times more thorough. I only wish such thoroughness was more readily available and didn't require months of searching.

In all, this book (which I gifted to a friend who didn't ask as much of it as I did) is worthwhile if you only need a glance at Leonardo's notebooks. If you want to take a good look, you'll need to do so elsewhere.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this for the Kindle app on my iPad 3 device expecting to see the illustrations I saw in the soft cover book I found with the same name at a museum store. What I expected and what I received are two different things. None of the cool diagrams in the printed book are present in this version of the book for the Kindle app on the iPad. It's really a false statement to say this kindle book is illustrated.
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Format: Hardcover
Here you can browse through the minutiae of a genius' observations about the world around him--from flight, the human body, the nature of water, proportion, optics, movement and weight. What will impress you on every fascinating page is the universality of Leonardo's thirst for knowledge, making him truly the epitome of the "Renaissance man," and perhaps the last human who can truly be called a polymath: "the natural desire of good men is knowledge."
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Format: Hardcover
The only thing keeping this book from top grade is that the author didn't help with a deduction of Leonardo's letters where it surely was needed - in the anatomical studies for example.
This makes it hard to understand the meaning of the drawings compared with the translated text, because Leonardo's letters(in the drawings) doesn't look like anything from the Roman alphabet. So when the meaning of the letters that appears in the drawings are mentioned in the text, you can't understand what letters goes with what in the drawings, because the text ONLY use the Roman alphabet(and NOT Leonardo's letters as seen in the drawings).

In other words, to fully get the whole meaning of Leonardo's writings and drawings you do need a "Leonardo - Roman alphabet" dictionary.
This is a major set back, and the worst is that the author could have avoided this so easily.

Other than that the book is amazing.
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Format: Hardcover
The Da Vinci Code? In one word: genius. And we don't mean Dan Brown's tome. We mean the man himself, the Renaissance master who very name conjures up the definition of "brilliance." This collection --- the first to be published in more than 35 years --- is culled from Leonardo's myriad of notebooks that he filled with ruminations on painting, botany, aerodynamics, geography, physical science, anatomy and architecture. This massive collection illuminates the mind of one of history's greatest minds and talents through the most extraordinary sketches, drawings, jottings and paintings. Most fascinating: da Vinci's own handwritten notes, here carefully translated and insightfully edited by art historian H. Anna Suh. Somewhere in that Great Palette, even good ol' Miss Mona is sweetly smiling.
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