Last night I finished listening to “Leonardo and the Last Supper” by Ross King. As might be expected from this title, this book had a large focus on Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper.
I was surprised how little seems to actually be know about Leonardo da Vinci. Much of what is known, seems to be speculation. Not even a portrait of da Vinci can be said to for sure exist.
As such, another large focus of this book is on the exploits of da Vinci’s patron (employer) who was a well known Duke, and the wars that surrounded the area. So not only do you learn about da Vinci and his famous painting, but you also learn some Italian history. The author gives a sense of how the people of this time must have lived.
The narrator (Mark Meadows) I thought was great. I don’t know how to speak Italian at all, but I enjoyed Meadows pronunciation of the Italian names and places.
I became curious about Leo due to the recently cancelled TV show “da Vinci’s Demons”.
The first few episodes portrayed a picture of such a charming person so curious about the world, that I wanted to learn more (side note: the TV show focused largely his early life in the city of Florence and it’s ruler, Magnifico, while this book focused on da Vinci’s later life in Milan and it’s ruler, Ludovico il Moro. I wonder if there’s a good book on da Vinci’s early life…).
To sum up, this was my first look at art history, and I enjoyed it. Anyways, below are a few notes I made along with their corresponding audiobook/audible times.
Section 2 / 00:15:56
Leonardo wanted to build weapons
Section 2 / 00:16:02
or design a monument
Section 2 / 00:18:58
do what others say is impossible.
Section 2 / 00:19:11
I wish to work miracles
Section 2 / 00:20:05
build hype when doubt comes in
Section 2 / 00:27:47
war used to be not violent. almost a chess game where nearly no one died
Section 6 / 3:01:43
rumour 200 years later that Leo had physical relation with his young male assistant
Section 6 / 3:01:57
in the 15th century, Florence was very well known as a homosexual city
Section 6 / 3:03:09
Leonardo was accused of homosexual relations
Section 6 / 3:21:58
Leo was left handed
Section 6 / 3:22:56
Leo wrote in reverse handwriting (so odd)
Section 7 / 3:32:48
another painter worked on another wall at the same time Leo did the Last Supper
Section 7 / 3:34:30
idea to pair artists off against each other to introduce competition
Section 7 / 3:50:17
nice way to end a story: have the narrator be dying
Section 9 / 5:00:35
the values of a society can change rapidly…. they can regress
Section 10 / 5:38:10
Leo seems to talk to himself in the third person often… referring to himself as “you”. interesting.
Section 11 / 6:03:02
Jesus was not originally portrayed as having a beard… until it became trendy
Section 11 / 6:11:08
Leo suspected that shell fossils would have a hard time reaching tops of mountains during Noah’s flood