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Leonardo da Vinci, a visionary and genius whose works have inspired - and repeatedly amazed and baffled - engineers, scientists and artists to this day, is the most prominent figure among the spirits of invention. The incredible wealth of his creations - sketches, illustrations and technical drawings - confronts experts with a conundrum. What influences from cultural history did Leonardo gather, redefine through his inventive spirit and dramatize with such confidence? How do these Renaissance impulses to survey and measure the world, to view it through the lens of technology and to clothe it in a garment of data on our world today? This book offers soundly researched answers to these questions. In this trip through time to the age of antiquity, to the medieval nomadic cultures of Asia and to early modern times, Marc J. M. van den Broek confronts Leonardo da Vinci's legacy with artifacts from China, Arabia and various Western cultures and discovers astonishing similarities. With numerous comparisons of drawings and serial illustrations, he allows readers to share in his discoveries step by step.

Each pictorial chapter is a track search.
Spirits of Invention is a kaleidoscopic work. Featuring more than 300 illustrations and lively narrative texts, it is both an intuitively comprehensible artist's book and a multifaceted compendium of facts that guides the reader through Leonardo da Vinci's universe.



"... The fact that a Chinese artist had drawn an identical structure from the same perspective 500 years earlier may be a coincidence. But then again, maybe not. And if not, how did the drawing get from China to Florence? To what other sketches from the Far East could Renaissance engineers have referred? And did they have access to works from other countries as well - from India, Arabia or Persia? Was it the wisdom of classical antiquity that was ‘reborn’ or that of the entire world?"

(Excerpt from Leonardo da Vinci Spirits of Invention, p. 18)




"...The best-known picture in this context is his Vitruvian Man. In 1490, da Vinci placed the idealized nude figure within a circle within a square in order to visualize proportions. Today, the squared circle can be found in millions of wallets, on the Italian one-euro coin and on various health insurance cards. Leonardo da Vinci's motif was by no means new. Mariano Jacobi decti Taccola, also known as Mariano Taccola, and Francesco di Giorgio Martini, both contemporaries with whose work Leonardo da Vinci was well acquainted, had sketched similar ideas years earlier." (Page 273)

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