Leonardo. the Complete Paintings and Drawings By Frank Zöllner, Johannes Nathan
The definitive account of Leonardo’s life and work by one of the world’s best Leonardo scholars, with beautiful illustrations, clear writing, and good objectivity. Frank was very kind to me as I wrote my own book about Leonardo. Frank thinks the Saudi Salvator Mundi is better than I do, but that’s not the case for me. It’s a big book, but its Catalogue Raisonée structure makes it easy to read quickly. It starts with an account of the artist’s life, then essays about each painting.
Leonardo Da Vinci By Walter Isaacson
People who study Leonardo don’t find out much more in Walter Isaacson’s biography, but he writes in such an easy, clear way that this book is the only place to start if you don’t know much about him. Books about Leonardo can be very dense, and they can make the reader feel like they’re floating in a galaxy of disconnected facts without any idea of where they’re going or how they got there. Isaacson’s book, on the other hand, isn’t like that. It’s the book you can read on a plane.
Living with Leonardo: Fifty Years of Sanity and Insanity in the Art World and Beyond By Martin Kemp
Here, we talk about what it’s like to be a Leonardist. You’re right! When it comes to Leonardo research, Martin Kemp is one of the world’s most sought-after Leonardo experts. People who don’t know each other send him emails saying that they think they have a Leonardo in their attic that hasn’t been found yet. He recreates Leonardo’s flying machines so they can be shown in museums. Police call him when they find a Leonardo da Vinci painting that was stolen, and he gets a hug from them. Kemp is both self-regarding and self-deprecating at the same time as he takes you on a tour of Leonardoland.
Leonardo Da Vinci: Under the Skin By Michael Farthing, Stephen Farthing
This is a small book, but it stands out from all the other books about Leonardo because of its focus and unusual group of authors. An anatomical book written by two brothers who both teach drawing and medicine is about Leonardo’s anatomical drawings as well as their impact on both science and art. It shows the reader how Leonardo’s drawings have changed both science and art. In their book, the authors are very good at figuring out what Leonardo learned about anatomy from previous students, starting with the Greeks. They also figure out what he learned on the dissection table, where he says he looked at more than 30 corpses over the course of his study.
Leonardo Da Vinci: Extraordinary Machines By David Hawcock
Leonardo da Vinci was an inventor who made airplanes, a submarine, a parachute, a helicopter, an armored vehicle, and a crossbow-machine gun. This is the book you should get for your kids to learn about him. None of Leonardo’s technological designs have ever been built and tested, which leaves us to wonder whether he was more of a dreamer than a person who did things. For kids 6-12, I think this would work.
Portrait of a Conspiracy, by Donna Russo Morin
The murder mystery by Morin is set in the Renaissance, and it shows one of the rulers of Florence, Lorenzo de Medici, being stabbed to death in front of other people. As a group of women don’t want to make a direct accusation, they hire Leonardo da Vinci to paint a picture of the Feast of Herod, which will show their face. When Morin talks about da Vinci’s methods and philosophy, she shows that she understands them very well. She portrays him as a handsome, but distracted, man with a gentle spirit and an almost alien way of looking at the world. She makes him the center of a tense mystery. Even though she doesn’t want to make him a detective, Leonardo’s skills and knowledge are the foundation of the whole story.
Oil and Marble, by Stephanie Storey
When she uses real history in her stories, Storey is very clear about how she wants her stories to be true to the emotions, not the facts. She isn’t ashamed of that. This story takes place in Florence at a time when Leonardo was 50 years old and going through a very difficult time in his life. As soon as Michelangelo arrived, he became his rival. A middle-aged Leonardo depicted by Storey is plausible and in line with the accounts of the man that were written down by people who knew him. The story is not true.
Leonardo’s Swans, by Karen Essex
When Essex talks about da Vinci, she looks at him through the eyes of other people in this complex and subtle fictional biography of the Estes sisters in 15th-century Italy, which is very interesting. Politically motivated marriages led to the sisters getting married. Their happiness and fortunes fluctuate, but they both fall in love with the brilliant artist and thinker. One wants him to work on projects that will help the people, while the other wants to be immortal as the subject of one of the master’s portraits. In Essex’s hands, da Vinci is more than just a figure from history. Seeing him from a distance helps us understand the personality that was hinted at in historical accounts and, ironically, gives us a better sense of the person than in some more intimate portrayals of the person.
A Malice of Fortune, by Michael Ennis
Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli work together to solve a series of murders that could have come out of a Dan Brown book. Ennis is a skilled and subtle writer who doesn’t fall into the trap of sensationalism. As a result, this is an extremely detailed and complex story. It shows Leonardo da Vinci and Machiavelli in the most realistic and accurate ways that they could be, and it’s a pleasure to read. They add context to the characters and show them in a unique way that they are real people in a unique situation, which makes the book feel more realistic.