Leonardo moved seamlessly from the preparatory drawing for an altarpiece to the invention of a piece of equipment, and then on to the plans for a church or fortress. He drew maps, measured buildings, designed weapons and invented mechanical devices; he agonised over questions about geology, hydraulics, optics, astronomy and mathematics. And in the chaotic order of his codices he found a mode of expression befitting his personality, the perfect counterpoint to his painting. Engineer, scientist, philosopher, architect and painter, Leonardo da Vinci has been described as the quintessential Renaissance man; it could be argued, however, that his universal genius, exceptional creativity and multitude of interests have ultimately hindered a full appreciation of his greatness as an artist.With the support of documentary evidence, biographical data and 100 colour illustrations, this essay reviews Leonardo's entire pictorial oeuvre, from his first signed drawing (dated 1473) and apprenticeship at Verrocchio's workshop to the formal perfection of "The Last Supper" and "Mona Lisa".
Massimiliano Capati was born in Viterbo in 1968. A popular historian and essayist, he has written widely about 20th-century Italian literature, philosophy and art history.
Foreword1. The Workshop of Verrocchio2. A Fleming in Florence3. Two Virgins4. The Exploration of Shadow5. The Musician6. The Virgins of the Rocks7. Female Portraits8. The Last Supper9. Journeys, Encounters, Restlessness