Leonardo Da Vinci, Master Draftsman

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9781588390349: Leonardo Da Vinci, Master Draftsman

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) stands as a supreme icon in the history of Western civilization. With much of his work lost or unfinished, the key to his legacy is without doubt to be found in the enormous body of his extant drawings and accompanying manuscript notes. Famous for their beauty and technical virtuosity, Leonardo’s drawings were avidly sought by collectors even during his lifetime.

This handsome book offers a unified and fascinating portrait of Leonardo as a draftsman, integrating his diverse roles as an artist, scientist, inventor, theorist, and teacher. A chronological framework is also provided in order to shed light on his extraordinary life and career. The essays and entries―written by the world’s leading Leonardo scholars―survey the wide variety of drawing types that Leonardo used and also examine a small group of works by artists critical to his artistic development in Florence and to his multifaceted activity in Milan.

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Review:

Artist, theorist, scientist, and inventor--these words cannot capture the genius that is Leonardo DaVinci. However, curator and editor Carmen C. Bambach brings us a little closer to unlocking his mystery in Leonardo DaVinci: Mater Draftsman. The book comprises a collection of 11 essays by world-renowned Leonardo connoisseurs, along with 515 exquisite illustrations, to create a perfect balance between scholarship and aesthetics. Serving as the catalogue for the exhibition of the same name at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the book focuses on Leonardo's drawings: his studies for some of his unfinished, lost, or unrealized paintings and projects, stunning anatomical and engineering studies, 8 pages from the Codex Leicester (Leonardo's draft for a treatise on the dynamics of water), and his studies of grotesque physiognomies, which taken together, reveal the master's notion that beauty and ugliness are reciprocally enhanced by their juxtaposition. The result also sheds light on his extraordinary contribution as a draftsman "to the design process of narrative composition."

Leonardo has left us a mere handful of mostly unfinished--albeit magnificent--paintings. Yet, as Bambach explains, the quantity of his extant drawings (about 4,000 or more) is about 4 times that of the most prolific 16th-century draftsman. To be sure, it is through these drawings, along with the eloquent commentary, that Leonardo's infinite and dynamic creative power can best be glimpsed. From the whimsical to the sublime, from the scientific to the mechanical, these drawings reveal Leonardo's dependence on observation and nature, as well as his tireless use of drawing as a means to explore and express his ever-probing mind. The catalogue takes us on a chronological journey, revealing the vast influence of Leonardo's teacher Andrea Verrocchio, and subsequently shows us Leonardo's influence on his students and beyond. The beauty, power, and scope of this book are evidence that there is no end to pondering his remarkable and enigmatic genius. --Silvana Tropea

From the Publisher:

This book is the catalogue for the first comprehensive international-loan exhibition of Leonardo’s drawings in the United States. It will be held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from January 22 to March 30, 2003 and the Musée du Louvre, Paris, from April 28 to July 7, 2003. Published in association with The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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