5 definitive books on Leonardo da Vinci
For years we have been fascinated with the artistic prowess of Leonardo da Vinci.
- Over 7,000 pages have survived of Leonardo da Vinci's personal notebook collection.
- Leonardo da Vinci's sketches, ruminations and theories make for a thrilling read.
- Many biographers have attempted to figure out what made da Vinci such a great artist.
Centuries have passed and yet we still sing the praises of the quintessential Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci. The historic figure, the legend and the man fits the bill for our reverence, intrigue and near worship at times. Da Vinci was an intelligent, creative and complicated figure. Within just the past century alone, a countless numbers of books have been written about him.
Those who wish to learn more about him and about the time period in which he flourished would do well to dive into these five select books on Leonardo da Vinci.
Da Vinci's Ghost: The untold story of Vitruvian Man
The Vitruvian man is a world renown sketch found in one of Leonardo's notebooks. The image is named after the famous Roman architect Vitruvius. While this image has been parodied a million times over and stamped on trinkets galore, the true genius and history of this piece eludes most people. Historian Toby Lester scours the historical record and recounts the many figures and forces that made this image a reality in 1490, when da Vinci first drew it.
The history is fascinating, as the roots of the picture go back to proto-Christian imagery in which the author finds compelling evidence that the Christ figure owes its prestige and presentation from how statesmen originally presented a godlike Augustus Caesar to the Roman populace. Vitruvius was an instrumental force in ancient times and would come to greatly influence Leonardo, as he also drew on ideas such as the microcosm and macrocosm.
Da Vinci's Ghost is at once both an intimate personal story of da Vinci and a far-ranging historical tale which contextualizes his greatness and creative mind.
Leonardo da Vinci, A Memory of his Childhood
In typical Freudian fashion, Sigmund Freud goes to work on his most famous attempt at a psychoanalytic biography. Reconstructing da Vinci's early life from a few references in his journals, Freud argues the point that, from a psychoanalytic perspective, da Vinci's greatness stemmed from sexual repression. No surprise there, considering this was Freud's modus operandi.
"Observation of men's daily lives shows us that most people succeed in directing very considerable portions of their sexual instinctual forces to their professional activity. The sexual instinct is particularly well fitted to make contributions of this kind since it is endowed with a capacity for sublimation."
Freud wrote this book in 1910. Rather than putting this book off as outdated, there are a number of keen observations and thought-provoking ideas that Freud puts forth. Like the many biographers that came both before and after him, Freud is desperately searching to understand where Leonardo's otherworldly artistry and genius stems from. Freud also concedes the point pretty heavily throughout the book that, in the end, these are just simply his own observations. This is by no means a definitive answer on the enigmatic figure da Vinci still evokes.
What better place to learn about a man than from the words written in his own hand. These are the personal notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci – the books he poured the contents of his mind into, so that he could both be understood and understand himself. The authors have organized this remnant of his writing into a cohesive and categorical layout, so that you can glide from his thoughts on painting, sculpting and anatomy to his interests in philosophy, natural science and much more.
"The mind of a painter must resemble a mirror, which always takes the color of the object it reflects and is completely occupied by the images of as many objects are in front of it."
These books give you the privilege to embark into the mind of the Renaissance master and experience something incredible. Nearly all of these pieces of writing are accompanied with some kind of artwork.
Professor Martin Kemp is considered to be the world's leading expert on Leonardo da Vinci. This treatise offers us an incredible amount of insight on what made him such a great artist and scientist. Kemp goes on to explain in great detail the artistic merit within masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.
The book is both a journey on the winding and disparate career path da Vinci would take throughout his life, his many dreams left undone and a who's who of the cultural milieu of 15th century Florence and Italy. Kemp draws heavily from da Vinci's notebooks to paint a full picture of the genius behind the creations.
Leonardo da Vinci: The Flights of the Mind
Charles Nicholl's book paints a rich picture of the Italian Renaissance worldview, one da Vinci existed in and shaped while he was alive. He expertly traces da Vinci's birth as an illegitimate child in Tuscany to his infamous ties and time with the ruling families of Renaissance Europe.
Nicholl also manages to write an even-keeled portrait of da Vinci the man. He doesn't spend too much time pouring his energy into psychological analysis or going deep into art interpretation. Utilizing his notebook entries, as many biographers before, he fleshes out a general day-to-day life of the master, which makes for an intimate portrayal of the man. While the mystery is still there, reading Nicholl's work is a humbling admission into the daily minutiae of man who affects us all.
What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.
Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live.
Having been exposed to mavericks in the French culinary world at a young age, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn made it her mission to cook in a way that is not only delicious and elegant, but also expressive, memorable, and true to her experience.
New experiments find weird quantum activity in supercold gas.
Quantum Mechanics, Onions, and a Theory of Everything<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="036ae7b8dd661df2d125a3421a0299ba"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bcVruA0AJ-o?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Researchers say that moral self-licensing occurs "because good deeds make people feel secure in their moral self-regard."
Books about race and anti-racism have dominated bestseller lists in the past few months, bringing to prominence authors including Ibram Kendi, Ijeoma Oluo, Reni Eddo-Lodge, and Robin DiAngelo.