How to Learn from Leonardo

We’re revisiting our favorite books about Leonardo da Vinci, just in time for the Louvre’s blockbuster exhibition.


Asja recommends a book by the English art historian Martin Kemp, a Leonardo specialist who has written extensively about the relationships between art and science.

Leonardo by Leonardo: Leonardo da Vinci by Martin J. Kemp | Jun 7, 2019


Kotryna is a fan of the ever-popular storyteller Ross King, who weaves a complex web of Italian politics and intrigue, with Leonardo at the center of his tale.

Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King| October 1, 2013


Christina proposes a novel that takes gender ambiguity as its principle theme. Ali Smith displays a creative hybrid of storytelling, encouraging readers to look both in and out of paintings. One of Smith’s fictional characters is an Italian painter of the 1490s.

How to be Both: A Novel by Ali Smith | October 13, 2015


Inge favors the NYT bestselling biography by Isaacson, who focuses on the diversity of Leonardo’s passions. He is especially attuned to all of the ways Leonardo did not “fit” his historical moment, revealing how his odd ball status led to the brilliance of his inventions.


Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson | October 2, 2018


Kate suggests a scholarly but readable reference covering the entirety of Leonardo’s work, written by the art historian who led efforts to restore the Last Supper.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings | November 1, 2000


And for the kids…

Vera proposes a lavishly illustrated story about a curious dreamer; inspiration for us all!

Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer | July 28, 2003