Stanley (Elâ€šna, p. 142, etc.) goes to great lengths to portray Leonardo da Vinci as a real person, explaining how his genius often went unrecognized by the generations that followed his. His out-of-wedlock birth prevented him from entering upper-class professions (law, medicine, or banking), so Leonardo became an artist by trade. He had difficulty completing the arduous task of painting: His restlessness comes across through the hundreds of inventions and ideas recorded in his notebooks, at least a third of which, readers may he surprised to learn, have been lost. In fact, much of what Leonardo is known for is incomplete or lost: A giant bronze statue of Francesco Sforza on horseback was never made, and the experimental paint Leonardo used for The Last Supper began peeling not long after the painting's completion. Stanley's large, accessible art mirrors the mood of the Renaissance. Insets help readers see what the text describes, and a thorough bibliography provides sources for more information. More than Leonardo's genius, this book captures the caprice time and fate plays on even the gifted, so that what readers finally admire in Leonardo are not his creations, but his ideas.