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Leonardo Da Vinci: 1452-1519: The Complete Paintings and Drawings

by Frank Zöllner

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803620,441 (4.36)3
Da Vinci in detail: Leonardo's life and work - the definitive edition   Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) possessed one of the greatest minds of all time; his importance and influence are inestimable. This two-volume, midsize format comprehensive survey is the most complete book ever made on the subject of this Italian painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, scientist and all-around genius. With huge, full-bleed details of Leonardo's masterworks, this highly original publication allows the reader to inspect the subtlest facets of his brushstrokes. Part I explores Leonardo's life and work in ten chapters. All of his paintings are interpreted in depth, with The Annunciation and The Last Supper featured on large double-spreads. Part II comprises a catalogue raisonné of Leonardo's paintings, which covers all of his surviving and lost painted works and includes texts describing their states of preservation. Part III contains an extensive catalogue of his drawings (numbering in the thousands, they cannot all be reproduced in one book); 663 are presented, arranged by category (architecture, technical, anatomical, figures, proportion, cartography, etc). Now available as a two-volume edition at an irresistible price!… (more)
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The first volume of this collection, which deals with Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings, is one which I found surprisingly slim. I fully expected that an artist of Da Vinci's fame would have a large body of work, but in fact the list of paintings attributed definitively to him is not very long at all. According to the author, as well as contemporary sources, Da Vinci was a notoriously slow-working painter and at many points in his life actually gave up the brush entirely to work on other projects. (I fully expect to see a much fuller catalogue of pieces in volume 2, since it has a much lengthier page count than volume 1). That being said, considering the passage of time and the delicate nature of paintings (especially those in tempera, which dissolves quite readily in water), it is likely that some works have been lost - some in fact can be surmised by written records and by copies attributed to the style/composition/studio of Da Vinci. EVen with only a small oeuvre of works to peruse, I was quite impressed by Da VInci's techniques, especially the of layering thin glazes of oil paint and his wonderful compositions. I would not be at all surprised if the contemporary rumours that his master had in fact given up painting in the wake of his pupil's overshadowing talent are true, since Da Vinci was clearly a master (albeit an unwilling one it seems) of his trade.

In comparison to volume 1, the second book in this set is a touch underwhelming. Sure, the presentation is still top-notch, and I was quite impressed by the author’s care to organization (seriously, the amount of messy compilations drives me crazy), but the reproductions seemed a bit off. Maybe I’ve just seen too many false representations of Da Vinci’s work in films, but the quality of the reproductions was obviously affected by poor preservation (blame the ages and non-careful curators) or un-enhanced reproductions. I can’t definitely see how Da Vinci’s talent developed from sketch to superb painting though, as his sketches clearly show an avid student and practitioner of his chosen craft. What was most surprising, considering that the subject of all of his paintings was either religious, portraiture, or battled, was the range of drawings he produced. During the Renaissance, the focus on art production was limited to these three areas (landscape painting hadn’t yet become marketable, much less more graphic/abstract subjects), so it is really no surprise that Leonardo was not able to paint these subjects for commission, yet clearly he had no interest in limiting himself to the modes of his age. Experiments in landscape subjects (utilized innovatively in the background of his paintings, which set him apart from his peers), medical topography (which would become a major subject as medicine advanced), studies of common man (which were in turn harnessed into Biblical scenarios), and mechanical inventions showed his range of mind. If only Leonardo had been born a few centuries later, I am sure that he would have been a great innovator and would have relished the freedoms of the modern world of art, architecture, and mechanical experimentation. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Nice effort that is pleasantly presented, it is already out of date with the glaring omission of the Salvator Mundi (not even mentioned) and the recently discovered Este portrait, which the author claims was never painted, only sketched. Still, nice photos and informed text taken for the time period. ( )
  omphalos02 | Jun 25, 2015 |
Eu realmente gostei do texto.
Dizem que é incompleto, mas isso se deve provavelmente a divergências de atribuição. ( )
  JuliaBoechat | Mar 30, 2013 |
Although the high-end books of Taschen have always been extremely good, I believe they have outdone themselves this time. It is a wonderful compilation of all the paintings, sketches, and drawing of Leonardo, including amazing close-ups of some of the paintings that let you really appreciate his technique and mastery. The images have excellent quality and the additional information given is also useful to put the images into historical context. I don't think I need to go into how incredible Leonardo was as a painter, engineer, etc., but you will definitely be amazed by the contents of this book. ( )
  mr_rax | Mar 11, 2009 |
A weighty yet beautiful tome. ( )
  Autodafe | Apr 11, 2008 |
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Da Vinci in detail: Leonardo's life and work - the definitive edition   Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) possessed one of the greatest minds of all time; his importance and influence are inestimable. This two-volume, midsize format comprehensive survey is the most complete book ever made on the subject of this Italian painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, scientist and all-around genius. With huge, full-bleed details of Leonardo's masterworks, this highly original publication allows the reader to inspect the subtlest facets of his brushstrokes. Part I explores Leonardo's life and work in ten chapters. All of his paintings are interpreted in depth, with The Annunciation and The Last Supper featured on large double-spreads. Part II comprises a catalogue raisonné of Leonardo's paintings, which covers all of his surviving and lost painted works and includes texts describing their states of preservation. Part III contains an extensive catalogue of his drawings (numbering in the thousands, they cannot all be reproduced in one book); 663 are presented, arranged by category (architecture, technical, anatomical, figures, proportion, cartography, etc). Now available as a two-volume edition at an irresistible price!

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