Biographies & Memoirs

Leonardo Da Vinci: The Flights of the Mind

Leonardo Da Vinci: The Flights of the Mind

Leonardo is the greatest, most multi-faceted and most mysterious of all Renaissance artists, but extraordinarily, considering his enormous reputation, this is the first full-length biography in English for several decades. Prize-winning author Charles Nicholl has immersed himself for five years in all the manuscripts, paintings and artefacts to produce an intimate portrait' of Leonardo. He uses these contemporary materials - his notebooks and sketchbooks, eye witnesses and early biographies, etc - as a way into the mental tone and physical texture of his life and has made myriad small discoveries about him and his work and his circle of associates. Among much else, the book identifies what Nicholl argues is an unknown portrait of the artist hanging in a church near Lodi in northern Italy. It also contains new material on his eccentric assistant Tomasso Masini, on his homosexual affairs in Florence, and on his curious relationship with a female model and/or prostitute from Cremona. A masterpiece of modern biography.

Introduction: The Cooling of the Soup

PART ONE: Childhood: 1452–1466

Chapter 1: Birth

Chapter 2: The da Vinci

Chapter 3: Caterina

Chapter 4: ‘My First Memory …’

Chapter 5: At the Mill

Chapter 6: Speaking with Animals

Chapter 7: The ‘Madonna of the Snow’

Chapter 8: Education

PART TWO: Apprenticeship: 1466–1477

Chapter 9: The City

Chapter 10: Renaissance Men

Chapter 11: Andrea’s Bottega

Chapter 12: Learning the Trade

Chapter 13: Spectaculars

Chapter 14: On the Lantern

Chapter 15: First Paintings

Chapter 16: The Dragon

Chapter 17: Ginevra

Chapter 18: The Saltarelli Affair

Chapter 19: ‘Companions in Pistoia’

PART THREE: Independence: 1477–1482

Chapter 20: Leonardo’s Studio

Chapter 21: The Hanged Man

Chapter 22: Zoroastro

Chapter 23: The Technologist

Chapter 24: ‘Poets in a Hurry’

Chapter 25: The Musician

Chapter 26: St Jerome and the Lion

Chapter 27: The Gardens of the Medici

Chapter 28: The Adoration

Chapter 29: Leaving

PART FOUR: New Horizons: 1482–1490

Chapter 30: Milan

Chapter 31: Expatriates and Artists

Chapter 32: The Virgin of the Rocks

Chapter 33: Ways of Escape

Chapter 34: The First Notebooks

Chapter 35: Tall Tales, Small Puzzles

Chapter 36: Architectural Projects

Chapter 37: The Moor’s Mistress

Chapter 38: The Milanese Studio

Chapter 39: The Anatomist

Chapter 40: The Sforza Horse

Chapter 41: At the Corte Vecchia

PART FIVE: At Court: 1490–1499

Chapter 42: Theatricals

Chapter 43: ‘Of Shadow and Light’

Chapter 44: Little Devil

Chapter 45: Hunting Bears

Chapter 46: Casting the Horse

Chapter 47: ‘Caterina Came …’

Chapter 48: Echoes of War

Chapter 49: The Making of the Last Supper

Chapter 50: The ‘Academy’

Chapter 51: Leonardo’s Garden

Chapter 52: ‘Sell What You Cannot Take …’

PART SIX: On the Move: 1500–1506

Chapter 53: Mantua and Venice

Chapter 54: Back in Florence

Chapter 55: The Insistent Marchioness

Chapter 56: Borgia

Chapter 57: Autumn in Imola

Chapter 58: A Letter to the Sultan

Chapter 59: Moving the River

Chapter 60: Mistress Lisa

Chapter 61: The Anghiari Fresco (I)

Chapter 62: Michelangelo

Chapter 63: A Death and a Journey

Chapter 64: The Anghiari Fresco (II)

Chapter 65: The Spirit of the Bird

PART SEVEN: Return to Milan: 1506–1513

Chapter 66: The Governor

Chapter 67: ‘Good Day, Master Francesco …’

Chapter 68: Brothers at War

Chapter 69: Dissections

Chapter 70: Back in the Studio

Chapter 71: The World and its Waters

Chapter 72: Fêtes Milanaises

Chapter 73: La Cremona

Chapter 74: The ‘Medical Schools’

Chapter 75: Chez Melzi

Chapter 76: Portrait of the Artist at Sixty

PART EIGHT: Last Years: 1513–1519

Chapter 77: Heading South

Chapter 78: At the Belvedere

Chapter 79: The Baptist and the Bacchus

Chapter 80: The Deluge

Chapter 81: Sickness, Deception, Mirrors

Chapter 82: Last Visit to Florence

Chapter 83: Maistre Lyenard

Chapter 84: The Cardinal Calls

Chapter 85: ‘Night was Chased Away’

Chapter 86: The Great Sea


Author’s Note



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