leonardo da vinci

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson 

When I was in Italy a loooong time ago, I was so enamored of da Vinci that I went out of my way on a limited time schedule to visit Vinci and the little cave-ish museum dedicated primarily to his scientific pursuits (I have no idea whether it still exists). 

But, then, don't most of us feel some sort of personal thread to this fascinating man (maybe it's just me?)?

It's because he's so mercurial in his interests, so omnivorous (despite being a vegetarian!), so empathic (both emotionally and also in his observations of movement and people and motivations), so wide-ranging, that he feels like a wonder to behold and admire. Some to strive to be like, if even in tiny ways. 

Isaacson does an excellent job, here, of explaining how da Vinci's scientific pursuits informed his artistic works and how they wouldn't have nearly been the same without those other interests. If you feel that da Vinci is exclusively boxed into the artist-only section of your brain, you may not actually enjoy this - I have an artist friend who abandoned it because it encompassed all of da Vinci's life instead of focusing only on his art (to which I can respond that there doesn't exist a lack of books with that singular focus). This was baffling to me even before reading Isaacson's examination, but even more disappointed for that friend after the reading because da Vinci's dissection of bodies and creation of war machines and delving into what we now call psychology absolutely saturated into his portraits in a way that no one else, even other excellent artistic peers, could possibly approach.