Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson 2

Finished reading the biography of Leonardo Da Vinci. May be the first time for me to spend time on the biography, life and achievements of Leonardo. As all of us, I was aware of discoveries, drawing, paintings, but never spend the time to read and understand more about the life of Leonardo, creation process and legacy.

Which leads me to the surprise I felt reading the book. Walter Isaacson keeps referring to Leonardo Da Vinci as a “Genius”, praising the achievements and self study process. But also he mentions very clearly that.

  1. No Scientific legacy – Leonardo actually did not publish any significant publication of his studies and discoveries
  2. No Scientific progress – Relates to (1). In some investigations Leonardo was wrong, at some correct and at some he discovered and concluded much earlier than anyone else. But(!), not sharing it, not giving it to the public to review and contest buried the discoveries until someone else discovered the same.
  3. Marginal artistic contribution – we all know the “Mona Lisa” and “Last Supper” , but actually Leonardo did not complete many art works and was infamous of not being able to deliver on time, or at all. The “Last Supper” was drawn in a process that was wrong, which meant that most of the drawing was damaged very badly and what we know and see today is very different from the original drawing.
    Leonardo’s apprentices and followers did not leave a mark on the world of art

So, how come we think of Leonardo so highly. Why do everyone know his name, but less familiar with Scientists and Artists who worked in the same period and contributed more.

This is not that puzzling for me, as even in our times we usually remember the people who make more noise, who are more in the news, rather than the people who work around the scenes and make more contribution.

We are familiar with famous artist names, but do we really have the tools to evaluate their art?
We are familiar with Scientists in the news, Noble prize winners, which are usually anonymous until the day of the announcement. Most of the discoveries and contribution to Science was done BEFORE the prize. The prize is usually a late recognition to contribution to Science . Which means there are MANY Scientists out there who contribute a lot, but will stay anonymous for the rest of their lives.

Conclusion: Not sure there is, but maybe personal marketing, creating your own brand, is as important as actually doing something.

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