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About the Author
Sir Kenneth Clark (1903-1983) was the premier art historian of his generation. During his career, he held a variety of positions, including fine arts curator at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; director of the National Gallery; and Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford. In 1969, he presented the well-regarded television series, Civilisation: A Personal View. He was granted a life peerage in the same year.
Martin Kemp is Emeritus Professor of History of the Art at Oxford University.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kenneth Clark. Leonardo da Vinci: An Account of His Development as an Artist. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952. xvi + 203 pp. http://www.archive.org/details/leonardodavincia013645mbp Reviewed by: Samson C. Tsahiridis This book begins with an introduction into the life of Leonardo Di Vinci as a painter. Clark, the author, tells a brief history of Leonardo's youth, the artists that influenced him: Verrocchio, Settignano, and Pollajuolo. Leonardo was not only an inventor and scientist but had a psychological side to his character; doing all his work meticulously that was later seen as 'Leonardesque'. There was no known or efficient amount of work credited to Leonardo's painting abilities before 1472 AD. Leonardo's earliest paintings, like the "Paris Virgin of the Rocks," dated from after 1472 AD. The author states there is no evidence of Leonardo's professional work until 1478 AD. In his teen years, Leonardo at times, surpassed the brilliance of many famous artists and teachers of his day. Leonardo would surpass his master Verrocchio's talent while still his apprentice. The book is divided into 'plates' describing each work of art in detail. The chapters are broken down by a segment of years of Leonardo's life and work. There is a section of Leonardo's paintings at the end of the book that the reader can refer to as one reads the story. Leonardo shows his intentions in his paintings. Each method of painting or stroke of the paintbrush means something and reflects the unique and innovative, sometimes newly developed, style of Leonardo. Leonardo, being a scientist, adapted the standards of academic Florentine art between his sketching and his paintings. Leonardo seems to not have finished paintings or does not utilize his full talent in the finish product of some paintings due to a diligent schedule but usually is called upon to supervise other's work. The book is well-written and shows the mark of an educated individual, Clark. The book explains Leonardo's ambition to sketch, draw, paint, and invent in many contexts that involve architecture, sciences of the era, religion, motive to invent, neutrality in politics, and warfare. The book describes Leonardo's manuscripts, drawings, and the Codice Atlantico that he started to write in detail only after thirty years of age which project his thought process. The sketches drawn were of war machines, domes for cathedrals, town planning, and other structural designs. Leonardo was self-taught in Latin and drew a sketch of anything that interested or stimulated his mind. The book states the personal tastes and feelings as a painter in Leonardo's Trattato della Pittura. Clark is not certain about his presumptions of Leonardo but states many inquiries of Leonardo's paintings and draws logical conclusions to inform the reader that Leonardo was a man of mystery. The author writes passages from the Trattato that show Leonardo to be a romantic painter, opposed to his contemporaries, painting in the forms of the 'quattrocento' or the enclosed forms of the high Renaissance. The book creates an atmosphere that Leonardo was loved, hated, feared, an intelligent man, a genius, proud, and fearful of politics and the authorities and the only thing that kept him going and staying neutral in his beliefs or loyalty to any government, was his insatiable passion for perfection. I have more of my review that is not posted.
I am a high school sophomore and I read this book to do a research project on Leonardo da Vinci. This book provided a lot of information on his art and gave analysis on how the art reflected his life and how he was influenced as an artist and how he influenced other artist. Though this book gave a lot of information on his art and his style it didn’t discuss his inventions as much as I would have liked. The author’s analysis while insightful confused me the way he described the art was very detailed and could be considered confusing to someone like myself who has not studied art and is not familiar with the vocabulary. If you are interested mostly on his art this book would be good for that but if you wanted a more well rounded view of his life it may be better to read a different book or supplement this book with out side reaserch. This book contains some pictures from his notebooks and some of his other works. So if you are looking for a book with detailed analysis and pictures to supplement it this is the book for you. Because I had a hard time understanding it I would give this book 3.5 stars.