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Da Vinci's Ghost : Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image
by Toby Lester

Overview - In "Da Vinci's Ghost," critically acclaimed historian Toby Lester tells the story of the world's most iconic image, the Vitruvian Man, and sheds surprising new light on the artistry and scholarship of Leonardo da Vinci, one of history's most fascinating figures.  Read more...

 
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More About Da Vinci's Ghost by Toby Lester
 
 
 
Overview
In "Da Vinci's Ghost," critically acclaimed historian Toby Lester tells the story of the world's most iconic image, the Vitruvian Man, and sheds surprising new light on the artistry and scholarship of Leonardo da Vinci, one of history's most fascinating figures.
Deftly weaving together art, architecture, history, theology, and much else, "Da Vinci's Ghost "is a first-rate intellectual enchantment."--Charles Mann, author of "1493"
Da Vinci didn't summon Vitruvian Man out of thin air. He was inspired by the idea originally formulated by the Roman architect Vitruvius, who suggested that the human body could be made to fit inside a circle, long associated with the divine, and a square, related to the earthly and secular. To place a man inside those shapes was to imply that the human body could indeed be a blueprint for the workings of the universe. Da Vinci elevated Vitruvius' idea to exhilarating heights when he set out to do something unprecedented, if the human body truly reflected the cosmos, he reasoned, then studying its anatomy more thoroughly than had ever been attempted before--peering deep into body and soul--might grant him an almost godlike perspective on the makeup of the world.
Written with the same narrative flair and intellectual sweep as Lester's award-winning first book, the "almost unbearably thrilling" (Simon Winchester) "Fourth Part of the World, "and beautifully illustrated with Da Vinci's drawings, "Da Vinci's Ghost" follows Da Vinci on his journey to understanding the secrets of the Vitruvian man. It captures a pivotal time in Western history when the Middle Ages were giving way to the Renaissance, when art, science, and philosophy were rapidly converging, and when it seemed possible that a single human being might embody--and even understand--the nature of the universe.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781439189238
  • ISBN-10: 1439189234
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publish Date: February 2012
  • Page Count: 275


Related Categories

Books > Art > History - Renaissance
Books > Art > European
Books > Art > Individual Artists - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-10-10
  • Reviewer: Staff

Before The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci created what would become one of the most reproduced images in the world, known formally as Vitruvian Man. A “man in a circle and a square,” the image continues to be “deployed variously to celebrate all sorts of ideas,” but it also represents da Vinci’s particular preoccupations. Da Vinci, writes Atlantic contributing editor Lester, wanted to “to investigate the makeup and function of everything.” One of the great contributions of books like this is to keep the reader from taking for granted a familiar object. Lester’s detective story has a satisfying number of insights, such as that Leonardo’s drive to accurately represent the human body was grounded in a desire to find the location of the soul. Lester (The Fourth Part of the World) also covers a broad swath of history, suggesting, for instance, that Hildegard of Bingen was one of da Vinci’s main precursors in believing the human body to be a microcosm of the world. Finally, Lester braids intellectual threads—philosophy, anatomy, architecture, and art—together in a way that reaffirms not only Leonardo’s genius but also re-establishes the significance of historical context in understanding great works of art. Illus. (Feb.)

 
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