Thursday, November 10, 2011

'Da Vinci's Ghost: The Untold Story of the World's Most Famous Drawing'

All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.  -Leonardo da Vinci

Who has never wondered about our place in the Universe?  And who has ever wanted to explore the lives of those who tried to answer that question?

'Da Vinci's Ghost' by Toby Lester, artfully explores such questions through the research he undertook in uncovering the origins of da Vinci's most famous drawing, 'Vitruvian Man'.  The iconic drawing has been featured in commercials, as corporate logos, even on food packages.  But just what inspired da Vinci to draw it?  Our place in the Universe?  Medical purposes?  Or mathematical musings?

The Renaissance was a ray of sunshine compared to the dark, oppressive Middle Ages.  It was a time made for 'curious minds'; of searching and discovery, of the creation of some of the most famous pieces of art ever produced.  Thanks to the encouragement (and open wallets) of wealthy patrons, such as Lorenzo Medici, art flourished, science advanced, and philosophy enjoyed it's own renaissance.   Religion was still at the forefront, and celebrated in brilliant architecture throughout Italy.  

Leonardo da Vinci was one of those 'curious minds', yet undoubtedly the most famous.  He excelled in almost everything he attempted; painting, sculpture, music, engineering, architecture.  You name it, he attempted it.  But more than an iconic figure, he was a human being, filled with doubt and, at the same time, overconfidence.  

Author Toby Lester has brought 'Vitruvian Man' to life, and at the same time, lifted the curtain on da Vinci's life.  A man of insatiable curiosity, he kept notebooks filled with questions, concerns, and sketches.  He drove people crazy with all his questions.  But, as the book shows, such questions shaped da Vinci's personna and exposed the 'method to the madness'.  Lester even brings back the theory that the face of Vitruvian Man is a self-portrait of da Vinci.

'Da Vinci's Ghost' is a phenomenal story filled with great insight, fantastic research creatively displayed, and a huge cast of the era's most brilliant minds, some of which are Hildegard of Bingen, the religious visionary; Brunelleschi, he of the famous dome; even Augustus Caesar.  The illustrations and plates enhanced the whole reading experience.    

Mr. Lester's prose is extremely easy to process; even entertaining; and because of that, I hated to see it end.  Such tremendous insight and curiosity color this book, and I'm sure that you will learn something new about one of the greatest minds the world has ever known.

And I liked Leonardo even more after learning that he was famous for procrastinating.

That's something to which all we geniuses can relate.

(Release date February 2012)

1 comment:

Passionate Bookworm said...

I think I have heard of this through my art teacher before! Though you make it sound much more interesting :)