Leonardo da Vinci

Dig into the life of the great artist, Leonardo da Vinci, with these books or enjoy a few novels with da Vinci at the center.

Life & Art | Science | In fiction

Life & Art

Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind
By Charles Nicholl
In this acclaimed biography, Charles Nicholl uncovers the man behind the myth of the "Renaissance master," tracing the journey from an illegitimate child in Tuscany to his service with some of the most powerful families of Renaissance Europe.

By Martin Kemp
A leading authority on Leonardo da Vinci offers a stunning account of the life and thought of this unique artist. It includes 60 illustrations, including a thumbnail gallery in full color.

Leonardo da Vinci: Origins of a Genius
By David Alan Brown
This beautiful book presents a complete account of Leonardo's mysterious beginnings as an artist. Scrutinizing Leonardo's works and bringing them into relation to each other and to their sources, Brown brings us so close to the young painter that we feel we are peering over his shoulder or into his mind. His book is a revealing and imaginative glimpse into the origins of Leonardo's sublime genius.

 The History of a Painting Told in Pictures book jacket

Leonardo and the Mona Lisa Story: The History of a Painting Told in Pictures
By Donald Sassoon
In this engaging story—told largely in pictures, and presented in a unique format—acclaimed historian and Mona Lisa scholar Donald Sassoon offers us an intimate look at the painting’s history and the genius who gave the Mona Lisa lasting life, revealed in more than four hundred paintings, photographs, and illustrations. From photographs of Florence to paintings by Leonardo’s Florentine contemporaries; from canvases by nineteenth-century masters that detail the Victorian enthusiasm for Leonardo to parodies of the Mona Lisa by Duchamp and Warhol; from commercial appropriations to cartoons; Leonardo and the Mona Lisa Story unlocks the history behind the painting and illustrates just how much she continues to influence our culture.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings
By Pietro C. Marani
Marani reexamines the complete oeuvre of Leonardo, drawing on up-to-date archival research that has uncovered important new documents relating to the artist's work and career.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Singular Vision
By Martin Clayton
Best known as a painter, he also excelled as sculptor, architect, musician, anatomist, botanist, engineer, geologist, and mapmaker. But since he completed few of his projects, most of his work is known to us only through his drawings and notes. This selection of 100 sheets from the collection at Windsor Castle is presented in five sections covering major periods of Leonardo's life. Included in Martin Clayton's authoritative text is a discussion of the master's drawing materials, the development of his style, and the types and functions of his drawings.

Becoming Mona Lisa: The Making of a Global Icon
By Donald Sassoon
This richly historic and lavishly illustrated book tells how a single painting became the greatest masterpiece in the history of art and an icon of popular culture.


 Inside the Mind of the Great Genius of the Renaissance book jacket

The Science of Leonardo: Inside the Mind of the Great Genius of the Renaissance
By Fritjof Capra
Leonardo da Vinci's pioneering scientific work was virtually unknown during his lifetime. Acclaimed scientist and bestselling author Capra reveals that da Vinci was in many ways the unacknowledged "father of modern science."

Math and the Mona Lisa: the art and science of Leonardo da Vinci
By Bülent Atalay
Math and the Mona Lisa sees the transcendent unity of art and science in almost every aspect of Da Vinci's life and work. Atalay delves deeply into the underlying mathematics and aesthetics of science and art, paying special attention to the mathematical sequence called the Fibonacci series.

Leonardo da Vinci
By Sherwin B. Nuland
A distinguished chronicler of the human body and spirit interprets a Renaissance genius. Scholarly and passionate, Nuland's work takes readers deep into the first truly modern, empirical mind, one that was centuries ahead of its time.

Fortune Is a River: Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli's Magnificent Dream to Change the Course of Florentine History
By Roger D. Masters
Masters provides a concise and insightful description of the partnership of two of history's greatest geniuses--Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli--and their scheme to make Florence a seaport.

Leonardo: The First Scientist
By Michael White
Celebrated as a painter and engineer during his lifetime, Leonardo da Vinci was the very embodiment of the Renaissance Man. But few guessed at the extent of his scientific investigations and experiments. In a vast collection of notebooks (over 5,000 pages), Leonardo meticulously detailed his research on optics, mechanics, astronomy, and anatomy. He kept his findings hidden for fear his ideas would be stolen. Had they been shared or published, they might well have changed the course of scientific discovery, for they prefigured the work of Newton, Galileo, and Kepler. Instead, after Leonardo's death, his papers were lost to the world for nearly 200 years; some were never recovered. Using newly available documents, Michael White illuminates Leonardo's groundbreaking achievements.

In fiction

Leonardo's Horse book jacket

Leonardo's Horse: A Novel
By R.M. Berry
On May 2, 1519, at the Clos Luce in Amboise, Leonardo da Vinci is dying. He no longer cares about art or science. He wants only to answer a simple question about his life: why did he abandon his colossal equestrian statue in Milan? Meanwhile, R --, a twentieth-century historian writing a novel about Leonardo, meditates upon the same question in the midst of an apocalyptic traffic jam, as military helicopters fill the air with tear gas, AIDS demonstrators run amok, and a hospital evacuates its patients onto a nearby sidewalk.

Leonardo's Swans: A Novel
By Karen Essex
Leonardo's Swans is the story of the powerful Este sisters, Beatrice, Duchess of Milan, and Isabella, Marchesa of Mantua, as they compete for the affections of Italy's most influential prince, the Duke of Milan, and for the larger prize, to be immortalized in oil by his court painter and engineer, Leonardo da Vinci. Sexy, inspiring, and intelligent, her story of love, intrigue, and art is truly unforgettable.

Signora da Vinci
By Robin Maxwell
Following her book Mademoiselle Boleyn, novelist Maxwell delves into the life of Caterina--the adventurer, alchemist, and mother of Leonardo da Vinci.

The Queen's Gambit: A Leonardo da Vinci Mystery
By Diane A.S. Stuckart
As Court Engineer to the Duke of Milan, Leonardo da Vinci conjures a living chess game using members of the royal court as chess pieces. But when one piece is murdered, da Vinci's scrupulous eye for detail is needed to find the killer, in this first of a new series.

The Secret Supper
By Javier Sierra
Already an international phenomenon, this riveting novel depicts a deadly game of wits between the brilliant but religiously suspect Leonardo Da Vinci and a Dominican inquisitor who is intent on bringing him to trial for heresy.

The Da Vinci Code
By Dan Brown
While in Paris, Robert Langdon learns the curator of the Louvre has been murdered, his body surrounded by bizarre ciphers. As Langdon and French cryptologist Sophie Neveu attempt to decipher the clues, they realize the riddles are connected to Da Vinci's works and may be linked to a mystery that stretches deep into the history of the Catholic Church.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.