Leonardo da Vinci Essay - Critical Essays

Jay Williams


Williams begins Leonardo da Vinci with a brief preamble about the Renaissance, the age of enlightenment and rebirth. This account provides the basis for the portrayal of Leonardo as an individual who enlightened not only his contemporaries but also the people of many eras to come. He is portrayed as the “universal man,” the culmination of the knowledge and growth of the Renaissance. Through his explanations of his subject’s life and accomplishments, Williams proves that Leonardo was a genius as an artist, an engineer, and a scientist.

Williams quotes liberally from Georgio Vasari, a historian and contemporary of Leonardo. These quotes add a personal perspective and insight into Leonardo’s life, adding greater dimension to his character. Williams also quotes from other writings of his subject’s contemporaries, yet the most powerful quotes are those from Leonardo’s personal notes, which allow the reader greater accessibility to his thoughts and ideas.

Details on Leonardo’s day-to-day existence and his perception of the world around him add interest in and greater understanding of his accomplishments. The fact that he observed the most subtle details of nature is reflected in his amazingly precise and accurate drawings of plant and animal life. In fact, his careful study of the flight patterns of birds allowed him to invent the prototype of the airplane.

While, as a biography, the book focuses on Leonardo,...

(The entire section is 510 words.)