Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on April 24, 2018
Although Isaacson's writing style is clear, and the book is exhaustively researched, giving great insight into Da Vinci's life, I cannot give it more than three stars because it is also tediously repetitive. Many of the topics he covers - such as Da Vinci's painting style, his personality (including his inability to finish commissioned works), the way he delved into human anatomy, his insights into the portrayal of movement - all of these and more were described, described again, and then redescribed several times over throughout the book.

This is a 500+ page book that, with good editing, could have been cut down to 300 pages without any loss of important material. Yet at the same time, while dwelling on Da Vinci's clear genius as an individual, the book fails to provide any real depth about how Da Vinci's work fit into the society and culture of his era. Isaacson presented some basic material but not nearly enough to clearly connect Da Vinci to the times he lived in.

At the end I was left thinking that rather than being a general interest book, this volume would work better as a text for a university-level art history class. The brush-stroke by brush-stroke analysis Isaacson presents in his discussions of Da Vinci's major paintings might be of great interest to students of his art, but as an enthusiastic reader of history and biography, I found such technical deconstruction to be distracting at best and boring at worst.
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