A survey of the great painter's life, especially as it related to his art but also setting it in historical context and describing many of Leonardo's extraordinarily prescient inventions. Partly because Leonardo's oeuvre as a painter was smaller (many of his greatest projects were never completed), the works discussed here are better represented among the illustrations than was the case with the other entries in the new "First Impressions" series (Mary Cassatt, p. 1603/C-295; Marc Chagall, p. 1602/C-294). On the other hand, the text is more difficult: though the intriguing events of Leonardo's life are clearly presented, the discussion of his paintings' iconography is probably too scholarly for most young readers. Oddly, there's little mention of the role Leonardo's unquenchably creative use of materials played in the premature disintegration of some of his works, notably The Last Supper (subject of the book's eight-page gatefold). McLanathan conveys Leonardo's unmatched stature as the quintessential Renaissance thinker, but his complex personality remains more elusive. Beautifully illustrated with reproductions of paintings, drawings, etc.; a handsome resource. List of illustrations, documenting sources; no index.
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