Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings and Drawings
By Frank Zöllner & Johannes Nathan

June 09, 2003 /
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Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) possessed one of the greatest minds of all time; his importance and influence are inestimable.

This 10 pound, XXL-format comprehensive survey is the most complete book ever made on the subject of this Italian painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, scientist and all-around genius. With huge, full-bleed details of Leonardo's masterworks, this highly original publication allows the reader to inspect the subtlest facets of his brushstrokes.

Leonardo-2.jpgLeonardo (?)
Head of a Bearded Man (so-called Self-portrait c. 1510-1515)

Part I explores Leonardo's life and work in ten chapters, drawing upon his letters, contracts, diary entries, and writings. All of his paintings are presented and interpreted in depth, with The Annunciation and The Last Supper featured on fold-out pages.

Part II comprises a catalogue raisonnŽ of Leonardo's paintings, which covers all of his surviving and lost painted works and includes texts describing their states of preservation. Each and every painting that can be justifiably attributed to Leonardo is included here; thanks to new findings and scientific research, this is the first time his definitive painting oeuvre is being published.

Leonardo-3.jpg Design for a Stables (c. 1487-1490)

Part III contains an extensive catalogue of his drawings (numbering in the thousands, they cannot all be reproduced in one book); 663 are presented, arranged by category (architecture, technical, anatomical, figures, proportion, cartography, etc). Over half of the drawings included were provided by Windsor Castle, marking the first time that the Castle has allowed a publisher to reproduce so many of their drawings.

Study of the Wooden Framework with Casting Mould for the Sforza Horse (c. 1491-1493)


Design for a Giant Crossbow (c. 1485)


Leonardo's interest in an anthropometry of mathematical precision was in part connected with the high regard in which the exact sciences, and with them measurement and geometry, were at that time held.

In his studies of the human body, and above all in his direct visual translation of his findings and insights, the artist was undoubtedly many generations ahead of his contemporaries.

Detail of Anatomical Studies of the Muscles of the Neck, Shoulder, Chest and Arm (c. 1509/10)


With his studies into the proportions, the anatomy and the physiology of the human body, Leonardo had far from exhausted the spectrum of his interests. Again probably from the end of the 1480s onwards, he also devoted himself to other projects, which had absolutely nothing to do with art.

Leonardo-7.jpgDetail of Studies of Wing Articulation (1487-1490)

These included designs for flying machines and studies of bird flight.
The question of whether Leonardo could ever have got off the ground in any of these devices is of little interest. The artist was probably fully aware of the problems any such attempt would have entailed, for the material weight of some of his machines was alone sufficient to keep them firmly on the ground. He nevertheless returned repeatedly to studies of bird flight, the aerodynamics of flying and the construction of wings.

The authors:
Professor Frank Zšllner wrote his doctoral theses on artistic and architectural theory (1987) and Leonardo da Vinci (1996). He has written numerous publications on the art and artistic theory of the Renaissance and on Paul Klee. Since 1996 he has been Professor of Renaissance and Modern Art at Leipzig University. He is also the author of Taschen's 1998 monograph on Leonardo da Vinci.

Johannes Nathan studied art history at New York University (B.A.) and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London (M.A.), where he earned his Ph.D. in 1995 with a dissertation on the working methods of Leonardo da Vinci. He has taught New York University and at the University of Berne, Switzerland, where he is now directing the "artcampus" project. He is the author of a range of publications on the art of the Italian Renaissance, as well as on artists' working methods.

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Publisher: Taschen

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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