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Leonardo Da Vinci: Flights of the Mind: A Biography

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Leonardo Da Vinci: Flights of the Mind: A Biography Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

For five centuries, Leonardo da Vinci has stood alone as the quintessential Renaissance man — the incomparable artist, writer, thinker, and inventor who most powerfully transformed his world. In this dazzling new intimate biography, award-winning author Charles Nicholl creates a portrait of the artist for our time — a biography that brings Leonardo to life as a complex man living in a fascinating, dangerous, quickly changing world.

Drawing freely on his own original translations of Leonardo's notebooks as well as newly discovered contemporary accounts, Nicholl captures the very texture of Leonardo's mind and the pungent visceral impressions he transmuted into art. Detail by brilliant detail, Nicholl reconstructs the life and times of the artist, from his troubled childhood as the illegitimate son of an established Tuscan family to his years of apprenticeship in the burgeoning art world of Medici Florence to his unrivaled achievements in a breathtaking array of disciplines and media. Here, too, are compelling new answers to the enduring mysteries of Leonardo's sexual orientation, the true identity of the Mona Lisa, and the early experiences that inspired his lifelong obsession with human flight.

A writer of irresistible charm and quicksilver imagination, Nicholl takes us from the backstreet artists' studios of Florence to the glittering palazzi of the Medici, Sforza, and Borgia families as he pursues the most extravagantly talented and maddeningly elusive artist of all time. The result is a biography of rare grace and penetration.

Review:

"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. Agent, Penguin U.K. (Nov. 22)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[A] beautifully written, masterful biography of the great artist/scientist as person." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

In this new, intimate biography, award-winning author Nicholl creates a portrait of the artist for our time--a biography that brings Leonardo to life as a complex man living in a fascinating, dangerous, quickly changing world.

About the Author

Charles Nicholl has won numerous awards, including the Hawthornden Prize and the James Tait Black Prize for Biography. The author of Somebody Else: Arthur Rimbaud in Africa and The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, among other books. Nichol‛s articles have appeared in Granta, Rolling Stone, and the London Review of Books.

Table of Contents

Author's Note

Introduction: The Cooling of the Soup

Part One

Childhood: 1452-1466

Birth

The da Vinci

Caterina

'My First memory . . .'

At the Mill

Speaking with Animals

The 'Madonna of the Snow'

Education

Part Two

Apprenticeship: 1466-1477

The City

Renaissance Men

Andrea's Bottega

Learning the Trade

Spectaculars

On the Lantern

First Paintings

The Dragon

Ginevra

The Saltarelli Affair

'Companions in Pistoia'

Part Three

Independence: 1477-1482

Leonardo's Studio

The Hanged Man

Zoroastro

The Technologist

'Poets in a Hurry'

The Musician

St. Jerome and the Lion

The Gardens of the Medici

The Adoration

Leaving

Part Four

New Horizons: 1482-1490

Milan

Expatriates and Artists

The Virgin of the Rocks

Ways of Escape

The First Notebooks

Tall Tales, Small Puzzles

Architectural Projects

The Moor's Mistress

The Milanese Studio

The Anatomist

The Sforza Horse

At the Corte Vecchia

Part Five

At Court: 1490-1499

Theatricals

'Of shadow and light'

Little Devil

Hunting Bears

Casting the Horse

'Caterina came . . .'

Echoes of War

The Making of the Last Supper

The 'Academy'

Leonardo's Garden

'Sell what you cannot take . . .'

Part Six

On the Move: 1500-1506

Mantua and Venice

Back in Florence

The Insistent Marchioness

Borgia

Autumn in Imola

A Letter to the Sultan

Moving the River

Mistress Lisa

The Anghiari Fresco (I)

Michelangelo

A Death and a Journey

The Anghiari Fresco (II)

The Spirit of the Bird

Part Seven

Return to Milan: 1506-1513

The Governor

'Good day, Master Francesco . . .'

Brothers at War

Dissections

Back in the Studio

The World and Its Waters

Fêtes Milanaises

La Cremona

The 'Medical Schools'

Chez Melzi

Portrait of the Artist at Sixty

Part Eight

Last Years: 1513-1519

Heading South

At the Belvedere

The Baptist and the Bacchus

The Deluge

Sickness, Deception, Mirrors

Last Visit to Florence

Maistre Lyenard

The Cardinal Calls

'Night was chased away'

The Great Sea

Notes

Sources

Illustrations

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780670033454
Subtitle:
Flights of the Mind
Manufactured:
Viking Books
Manufactured:
Viking Books
Author:
Nicholl, Charles
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Artists, Architects, Photographers
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20051129
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Two 8-p. color inserts; b/w illustration
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9.42x6.36x1.92 in. 2.21 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

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Arts and Entertainment » Art » Artists

Leonardo Da Vinci: Flights of the Mind: A Biography Used Hardcover
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Product details 448 pages Viking Books - English 9780670033454 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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. Agent, Penguin U.K. (Nov. 22)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A] beautifully written, masterful biography of the great artist/scientist as person."
"Synopsis" by , In this new, intimate biography, award-winning author Nicholl creates a portrait of the artist for our time--a biography that brings Leonardo to life as a complex man living in a fascinating, dangerous, quickly changing world.
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