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Leonardo: The Artist and the Man
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Leonardo: The Artist and the Man

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  439 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
"A considerable work of assimilative scholarship and common sense...races along merrily."—The Boston Globe.
Paperback, 512 pages
Published March 1st 1995 by Penguin Books (first published 1988)
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1491 by Charles C. MannAfrica by John ReaderA History of God by Karen ArmstrongA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonIron Kingdom by Christopher   Clark
World History AP 2013
64th out of 188 books — 16 voters
Ways of Seeing by John BergerHistory of Beauty by Umberto EcoBrunelleschi's Dome by Ross KingThe Complete Paintings and Drawings by Leonardo da VinciA History of Illuminated Manuscripts by Christopher De Hamel
The World History of Art
208th out of 300 books — 86 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,011)
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Geoff Cain
Nov 18, 2007 Geoff Cain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Art historians, designers, artists
An interesting speculative biography. I read this as an antidote to Damn Brown...
Aug 17, 2013 Alexandra rated it really liked it
Serge Bramly's biography of Leonardo da Vinci is a number of very different books rolled into one. It is an abstruse, highly literary treatise on a Renaissance artist and scientist, but also a tender, intimate portrait of a man Bramly clearly admired. It is a portrait of late 15th century Florence and Milan, and a biography, indeed, of the very conception, in da Vinci's time, of the artist as a tradesperson, rather than the artist-construct that exists in the present western cultural zeitgeist.

Feb 09, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I knew next to nothing about Leonardo going into this, and now I'm fascinated by his talent, the breadth of his interests, and his inability to finish most of what he started. He was possibly the greatest painter in an age of brilliant artists, but his reputation is based on such a small number of surviving works, many of which suffer from serous issues of decay or poor restoration attempts. His insatiable curiosity led him to investigate anatomy to levels which hadn't been done before ...more
Florence Millo
Aug 01, 2012 Florence Millo rated it really liked it
Leonardo the Artist and the Man

This book was an excellent biography of an exceedingly complex man. It is very readable. While including information on daily life and politics of Italy during Leonardo's life, it avoids going into minute detail. The author clearly indicates when he is speculating on some aspect of Leonardo's life and work. His life was certainly one of constant investigation and imagination. He was an illegitimate child, he worked as an apprentice in Verrochio's studio, he felt un
Jan 11, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leonardo da Vinci, was born under the name Leonardo de ser Piero da Vinci on April 15th, 1452 in the town of Vinci, Italy. He is famous for his paintings of the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. But he was not only a painter. He was a sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer. He studied anatomy, biology, astronomy, geology, the movement of water, acoustics, mechanics, general physics. For a man who called hi ...more
Josh Schneier
Jun 05, 2012 Josh Schneier rated it liked it
Leonardo: The Artist and the Man by Serge Bramly is a biography about Leonardo da Vinci. The main character was obviously, Leonardo da Vinci. In this book Bramly describes da Vinci's entire life from birth to death, in vivid detail. The beginning of the book starts out with describing how da Vinci grew up, and how he was introduced to art. "Leonardo was born in 1452-on Saturday, April 15, at 10:30 pm, to be precise" (Bramly 37). That quote states the day da Vinci was born, giving the exact time. ...more
Aug 03, 2015 Linda added it
I've always admired Leonardo Da Vinci and this book gives a closer look into the man himself. It's very comprehensive book and the author has a passion for the man. It's easy to read and detailed. There are a lot of pictures of Leonardo's art. The author interprets how Leonardo's life must have looked like and even what he must have felt or thought at certain events in his life. This can be annoying for some readers. I find it very helpful in creating my own interpretation of Da Vinci and his ar ...more
Nov 25, 2014 Gianni rated it liked it
Good biography on the man - not the myth. Somehow after reading this you will respect the man even more.
Cherie In the Dooryard
I only read this because my son picked it out for me and I didn't have the heart not to. It took me well over a month to finish and I felt every day of it. I'm no stranger to epic-length biographies, but this one was more plodding than most. It didn't help that the editors made the bizarre decision to not reproduce in color all of Da Vinci's major paintings, despite there being in-depth analysis of each one. Some, such as the Virgin and Child with St. Anne, were excluded all together. Very stran ...more
John Tobelmann
May 03, 2016 John Tobelmann rated it it was amazing
This book is an in depth look at the person, the circumstances of his birth, his life and his legacy. It is a brilliant biography of a complicated man who was centuries ahead of his time; A man with the keenest of observation skills and perhaps the greatest artist in the entirety of history. Bramly tries to understand the man behind the genius. Bramly deftly illustrates Da Vinci's multitude of interests, hobbies, treatises and accomplishments and failures. This book is also a history lesson of I ...more
Jul 08, 2010 Lucy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Of course something may have been lost in translation is the most generous thing I can say about this book. The historical research seems shoddy. Bramly psychoanalyzes the over five-hundred-year-old artist in the absence of fact. I think one could make conjecture with supporting documents about the lives of others living at the same time with the caveat that not all people are the same, but Bramly seems to take a flimsy fact and blow it out of proportion. A very disappointing book.
Aug 23, 2015 Jaclyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating delve into Leonardo da Vinci's life. The language is engaging and entertaining.
Apr 14, 2016 Stan rated it it was ok
I could not finish this book. I read the first 130 pages, but could not make it. It is too analytic and scholarly. I just want a decent biography--I don't need someone to compare three conflicting sources and argue why he believes one way and not the others. Not at this point in time, anyway.

This is the second attempt to learn about Leonardo that has failed. I just want a simple primer; an intro in to the life of the man. Any recommendations?
Kevin Henner
Mar 21, 2008 Kevin Henner rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully written (and deftly translated) portrait. da Vinci's life story is utterly inspiring. Bramly respectfully recounts the multitudes of possibilities in those ambiguous stretches of da Vinci's life that hard records fail to cover, but weaves such consistent threads he can find into a rich and subtle portrait of (though I doubt you will forgive the cliché) a misunderstood genius.
Elsie Mahler Scharff
I've loved reading this biography. It's steeped in the times within which Da Vinci lived and well describes the 14 and 1500's in terms of sexual mores, politics, the church and social commentary. Great read for those seeking to understand the history of painting at a contextual level as well as gaining insight into his mathematical bent in terms of perspective and geometry.
Oct 03, 2012 Marla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Was really excited after my trip to Italy to learn more about Leonardo. Not sure if my rating reflex the book or the man himself (He was amazing-just not as amazing as I thought). Felt like I had more questions about him when I finished than when I started. Is that the authors fault or is that all that is know- not sure. Had great expectations for more.
Apr 10, 2010 Usha rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
Although not as enchanting as the biographical style of Michael Angelo's, this is a must read for anyone who wants to know about creative genius. One characteristic standing out throughout the book was DaVinci's inability to finish things, which comes out as the negligence/recklessness of never wanting to finish things towards the end.
Sep 14, 2008 Stephanie rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Stephanie by: Joshua Jacobson
The worst written book about one of the most interesting subjects in history. The writing style here is so ponderous and long winded it's a struggle to read. I had to read pages over and over again just to make sense of what the author was trying to say. Hence, I say I read this book 125 times.
Glenn Robinson
Broad bio of Da Vinci, but at the same time not very satisfying. Explained the incidents and the people, but not not as indepth as I had hoped. I learned a great deal about him and the times, but feel that other books on the great man is necessary.
Jan 16, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing
A fabulous insight to how we view Leonardo de Vinci. Simultaneously revering and placing him on a pedestal, yet some how seeming to take his life for grantid. Learning more about the man, I know how I want to carry my own life.
T.H. Waters
Nov 24, 2010 T.H. Waters rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This is a well-written book about one of the most fascinating human beings ever born. Da Vinci is an inspiration to us all.
Apr 11, 2008 Maria rated it did not like it
Biografia de Leonardo, no me atrapo, un poco cansona, pense q hiba a ser tan bueno como el de miguel angel, no lo termine.
Aug 25, 2008 Tessa rated it liked it
Shelves: history, biography
neat. author was kind of a snob, but gave pretty full coverage of his work. less focus on bio; mostly method and comprehensive.
James Shearer
Jun 29, 2009 James Shearer rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Great book on Leonardo da Vinci's life showing that he really wanted to be an engineer rather then a painter.
Fordon James
Two stars for lack of depth. But as a quick peek into the iconic figure, it does shed some light
Jan 10, 2011 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i read this book when it was first published. this is a wonderful biography.
Nov 30, 2007 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
A little too scholarly for my taste. The many footnotes annoyed me.
Aug 22, 2009 Elissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Now I REALLY need to go to Florence. Rome would be OK too.
Jul 22, 2015 Dustin rated it really liked it
Bramly embeds Leonardo in the history that he lived. I was surprised by how little we know of this history for such a universally revered genius. This well researched biography states what we do know, in context with Italian History, while providing likely scenarios to fill in the gaps and providing questions that delve into Leonardo's possible thoughts without labelling them fact. This is not quite scholarly book is not for the casual reader that only wants a story narrated to Da Vincis life. T ...more
Kelly marked it as to-read
Oct 23, 2016
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