In this episode, Getty curator Davide Gasparotto discusses early accounts of Leonardo’s life and how they shaped our understanding of the artist. Passages from these biographies were recently collected in the Getty Publications book Lives of Leonardo da Vinci.
“He was a great artistic personality, crucial for the development, in some way, of what we think as the modern science. But he was not alone.”
Leonardo da Vinci died more than 500 years ago, but he is still revered as a genius polymath who painted beguiling compositions like the Mona Lisa, avidly studied the natural sciences, and created designs and inventions in thousands of journal pages. Even during Leonardo’s lifetime, contemporaries marveled at the artist’s great skill and wide-ranging pursuits, but many also noted his perfectionism and difficulty completing projects. Since his death, the legends surrounding his life and personality have continued to grow. Today Leonardo’s story inspires novels and his work brings record-breaking prices, demonstrating his enduring relevance and mystique.