Form and Content

In writing Leonardo da Vinci, Jay Williams created both a biography of one of the greatest of all Renaissance figures and a historical reference book. He describes life during the Renaissance and portrays Leonardo as an individual who reflected and rose above the time in which he lived. The book documents his achievements not only as an artist but also as an engineer, inventor, scientist, and, in conclusion, a “universal man.” A chapter is dedicated to each of these facets of Leonardo’s persona, exploring his research and contributions in these fields. Each chapter is filled with colorful reprints of his work as they pertain to particular aspects of his life. Connected with these reprints are captions giving information about how they reflect the subject’s ideas and about their significance to both Leonardo and the world.

In addition to reprints of Leonardo’s work, Williams also includes black-and-white and colored illustrations of various personages who influenced this figure’s life, as well as photographed models of some of his inventions. The book begins with a brief foreword from the editors and ends with a full index. Also included is a list of books for further reference on the subject.

Although Leonardo is known as a great artist, Williams gives equal weight to his subject’s abilities as an engineer, inventor, and scientist, devoting a chapter to his accomplishments in each area. Williams relates how Leonardo’s...

(The entire section is 467 words.)