Although he is one of the most famous artists of all time, little documentation exists about the life of Leonardo da Vinci. His birth date is recorded by his grandfather as April 15, 1452, in the family book. Beyond that, facts about Leonardo's life are sketchy. He grew up in the small town of Vinci, Italy. Because he was illegitimate and did not qualify for formal schooling, Leonardo went to Florence as a teenage apprentice to a well-known artist, Andrea del Verrocchio. Here he exhibited great talent and innovation and eventually developed into an artist whose breathtaking work continued to be in demand until his death in 1519. Not only was Leonardo a gifted painter and sculptor, but he also was a scientist who studied anatomy, an engineer, an architect, and an inventor. O'Connor provides the reader with wonderful insight into Leonardo's personality, describing him as gentle, brilliant, and outgoing but unreliable when it came to finishing projects. As a result of this flaw, he was often frustrated by losing commissions he felt he deserved to other prominent artists of the period, such as Michelangelo. In addition to providing an intriguing narrative about Leonardo's life accomplishments and character, O'Connor's book is packed with interesting information on art and on the Italian Renaissance in general. This enjoyable biography reads like a novel and is an excellent source of information for reports on the artist and his time period. Index. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. Further Reading. Chronology. Appendix. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High,defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Lerner, 112p. PLB
Gr 5-8-Outstanding writing and design result in a compelling and accessible portrait of this master artist. O'Connor begins with Leonardo's childhood in the Italian village of Vinci, whose name was adopted by Leonardo's family, and continues through the artist's death. The book also discusses some of his famous paintings, including the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, and the extraordinary stories of their creation. Finally, Leonardo's work on scientific experiments and inventions is explored in detail. The organization and flow are first rate, and color reproductions of his paintings appear throughout. Thorough research is evident in both the text and in the several appendixes that include a discussion of the locations of the artwork, quotes from him, time lines, and biographies of other Italian Renaissance painters. Despite the emphasis on research, the author makes it clear that what is known about Leonardo's life is limited, sketchy, and sometimes more legend than fact. An engaging biography that will open up Leonardo's world to students.-Kristen Oravec, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.