Quotes by Leonardo da Vinci
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Leonardo da Vinci. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci (15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) was an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who was active as a painter, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor and architect. While his fame initially rested on his achievements as a painter, he also became known for his notebooks, in which he made drawings and notes on a variety of subjects, including anatomy, astronomy, botany, cartography, painting, and paleontology. Leonardo's genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal, and his collective works compose a contribution to later generations of artists matched only by that of his younger contemporary, Michelangelo.
Born out of wedlock to a successful notary and a lower-class woman in, or near, Vinci, he was educated in Florence by the renowned Italian painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio. He began his career in the city, but then spent much time in the service of Ludovico Sforza in Milan. Later, he worked in Florence and Milan again, as well as briefly in Rome, all while attracting a large following of imitators and students. Upon the invitation of Francis I, he spent his last three years in France, where he died in 1519. Since his death, there has not been a time where his achievements, diverse interests, personal life, and empirical thinking have failed to incite interest and admiration, making him a frequent namesake and subject in culture.
Leonardo is among the greatest painters in the history of art and is often credited as the founder of the High Renaissance. Despite having many lost works and less than 25 attributed major works—including numerous unfinished works—he created some of the most influential paintings in Western art. His magnum opus, the Mona Lisa, is his best known work and often regarded as the world's most famous painting. The Last Supper is the most reproduced religious painting of all time and his Vitruvian Man drawing is also regarded as a cultural icon. In 2017, Salvator Mundi, attributed in whole or part to Leonardo, was sold at auction for US$450.3 million, setting a new record for most expensive painting ever sold at public auction.
Revered for his technological ingenuity, he conceptualized flying machines, a type of armored fighting vehicle, concentrated solar power, an adding machine, and the double hull. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or even feasible during his lifetime, as the modern scientific approaches to metallurgy and engineering were only in their infancy during the Renaissance. Some of his smaller inventions, however, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire. He made substantial discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, geology, optics, tribology, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had little to no direct influence on subsequent science.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.
Life well spent is long.
In life beauty perishes, but not in art.
Life without love, is no life at all.
A clever man without wisdom is like a beautiful flower without fragrance.
A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.
Wisdom is the daughter of experience.
Time stays long enough for those who use it.
In time and with water, everything changes.
Water is the driving force in nature.
Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.
Perspective is to painting what the bridle is to the horse, the rudder to a ship.
Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.
Just as courage is the danger of life, so is fear its safeguard.
Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.
In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.
He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.
To such an extent does nature delight and abound in variety that among her trees there is not one plant to be found which is exactly like another.
The good painter has two principal things to depict: man and the purpose of his mind. The first is easy, the second is difficult, since he must do it by the gestures and movements of the limbs, and this is to be learnt from the dumb, who more than all other men excel in it.
The painter's work will be of little merit if he takes the painting of others as his standard, but if he studies from nature he will produce good fruits.
Oh! marvellous, O stupendous Necessity -- by thy laws thou dost compel every effect to be the direct result of its cause, by the shortest path. These are miracles.
Although human ingenuity may devise various inventions which, by the help of various instruments, answer to one and the same purpose, yet will it never discover any inventions more beautiful, more simple or more practical than those of nature.
For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.
Supreme happiness will be the greatest cause of misery, and the perfection of wisdom the occasion of folly.
Learning acquired in youth arrests the evil of old age; and if you understand that old age has wisdom for its food, you will so conduct yourself in youth that your old age will not lack for nourishment.
A deaf and dumb person who sees two men in conversation may nevertheless understand from the attitudes and gestures of the speakers, how well their discussion is getting along.
When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.
Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence, he is just using his memory.
Mechanics is the paradise of the mathematical sciences because by means of it, one comes to the fruits of mathematics.
What is called nothingness is to be found only in time and in speech. In time it stands between the past and future and has no existence in the present; and thus in speech it is one of the things of which we say: They are not, or they are impossible.
O admirable necessity! O powerful action! What mind can penetrate your nature? What language can express this marvel? None, to be sure. This is where human discourse turns toward the contemplation of the divine.
Whoever despises the high wisdom of mathematics nourishes himself on delusion and will never still the sophistic sciences whose only product is an eternal uproar.
For once you have tasted flight you will walk the Earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.
The men of experiment are like the ant; they only collect and use. But the bee...gathers its materials from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own.
The instant the atmosphere is illuminated it will be filled with an infinite number of images which are produced by the various bodies and colours assembled in it. And the eye is the target, a lodestone, of these images.
Do not imitate one another's style. If you do, so far as your art is concerned you will be called a grandson, rather than the son of Nature.
The mind of a painter should be like a mirror which is filled with as many images as there are things placed before him.
Lust is the cause of generation.
Lust is the cause of generation
Appetite is the support of life
Fear or timidity is the prolongation of life, and
Fraud the preservation of its instruments.
Strive to preserve your health; and in this you will better succeed in proportion as you keep clear of the physicians, for their drugs are a kind of alchemy concerning which there are no fewer books than there are medicines.
Poetry is superior to painting in the presentation of words, and painting is superior to poetry in the presentation of facts. For this reason I judge painting to be superior to poetry.
Make yourself a master of perspective, then acquire perfect knowledge of the proportions of men and other animals.
Let proportion be found not only in numbers and measures, but also in sounds, weights, times, and positions, and what ever force there is.
I abhor the supreme folly of those who blame the disciples of nature in defiance of those masters who were themselves her pupils.
A bird is an instrument working according to mathematical law, which instrument it is within the capacity of man to reproduce with all its movements.
When you are painting you should take a flat mirror and often look at your work within it, and it will then be seen in reverse, and will appear to be by the hand of some other master, and you will be better able to judge of its faults than in any other way.
The first of all simple colours is White ... We shall set down White for the representative of light, without which no colour can be seen; Yellow for the earth; Green for water; Blue for air; Red for fire; and Black for total darkness.
Here is a thing which the more you fear and avoid it the nearer you approach to it, and this is misery; the more you flee from it the more miserable and restless you will become.
Perspective is a most subtle discovery in mathematical studies, for by means of lines it causes to appear distant that which is near, and large that which is small.
The fame of the rich man dies with him; the fame of the treasure, and not of the man who possessed it, remains.
O mighty and once living instrument of formative nature. Incapable of availing thyself of thy vast strength thou hast to abandon a life of stillness and to obey the law which God and time gave to procreative nature.
I am never weary of being useful... In serving others I cannot do enough. No labor is sufficient to tire me.
All objects transmit their image to the eye in pyramids and the nearer to the eye these pyramids are intersected the smaller will the image appear of the objects which cause them.
The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.
To discover the soul living in somebody's body, we watch the surrounding of the body, and if it's messy and disordered, so is the soul.
Man has much power of discourse which for the most part is vain and false; animals have but little, but it is useful and true, and a small truth is better than a great lie.
Painting embraces and contains within itself all the things which nature produces or which results from the fortuitous actions of men... he is but a poor master who makes only a single figure well.
Wherever good fortune enters, envy lays siege to the place and attacks it; and when it departs, sorrow and repentance remain behind.
A day will come in which men will look upon an animal's murder the same way they look today upon a man's murder.
The eye is the window of the human body through which it feels its way and enjoys the beauty of the world.
Men born in hot countries love the night because it refreshes them and have a horror of light because it burns them.
If on your own or by the criticism of others you discover error in your work, correct it then and there; otherwise in exposing your work to the public, you will expose your error also.
Make your faces so that they do not all have the same expression, as one sees with most painters, but give them different expression, according to age, complexion, and good or bad character.
No human investigation can be called real science if it cannot be demonstrated mathematically.
No human investigation can be called real knowledge if it does not pass through mathematical demonstrations; and if you say that the kinds of knowledge that begin and end in the mind have any value as truth, this cannot be conceded, but rather must be denied for many reasons, and first of all because in such mental discussions there is no experimentation, without which nothing provides certainty of itself.
Whatever you think matters -- doesn't. Follow this rule, and you will add decades to your life. Rodger Rosenblatt As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.
Great love is born of great knowledge of the thing that is loved, and if you do not know it, you can love it little or not at all.
True and great love springs out of great knowledge, and where you know little you can love but little or not at all.
Though I may not ... be able to quote other authors, I shall rely on that which is much greater and more worthy -- on experience.
Every part is disposed to unite with the whole, that it may thereby escape from its own incompleteness.
The knowledge of the past times and of the places of the earth is both an ornament and nutriment to the human mind.
I have discovered that a screw-shaped device such as this, if it is well made from starched linen, will rise in the air if turned quickly.
Thirst will parch your tongue and your body will waste through lack of sleep ere you can describe in words that which painting instantly sets before the eye.
What induces you, oh man, to depart from your home in town, to leave parents and friends, and go to the countryside over mountains and valleys, if it is not for the beauty of the world of nature?
The young man should first learn perspective, then the proportions of objects. Next, copy work after the hand of a good master, to gain the habit of drawing parts of the body well; and then to work from nature, to confirm the lessons learned.
Things severed shall be united and shall acquire of themselves such virtue that they shall restore to men their lost memory: -- That is the papyrus sheets, which are formed out of several strips and preserve the memory of the thoughts and deeds of men.
Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.
An artist who lacks the power of self-criticism accomplishes but little. It is good if your work stands higher than your own opinion of it; bad if it is on the same level. But it is a great disaster if your work stands lower than your judgment of it.
One shall be born from small beginnings which will rapidly become vast. This will respect no created thing, rather will it, by its power, transform almost every thing from its own nature into another.
Just as iron rusts from disuse, and stagnant water putrefies, or when cold turns to ice, so our intellect wastes unless it is kept in use.
To me it seems that those sciences are vain and full of error which are not born of experience, mother of all certainty, first-hand experience which in its origins, or means, or end has passed through one of the five senses.
I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand.
I roamed the countryside searching for the answers to things I did not understand. Why shells existed on the tops of mountains along with the imprints of coral and plant and seaweed usually found in the sea. Why the thunder lasts a longer time than that which causes it and why immediately on its creation the lightening becomes visible to the eye while thunder requires time to travel. How the various circles of water form around the spot which has been struck by a stone and why a bird sustains itself in the air. These questions and other strange phenomena engaged my thought throughout my life.
If you put on more garments, the cold cannot reach you. Similarly, increase your patience and concentration and even great injuries cannot vex your mind.
It vexes me greatly that having to earn my living has forced me to interrupt the work and to attend to small matters.
Every loss which we incur leaves behind it vexation in the memory, save the greatest loss of all, that is, death, which annihilates the memory, together with life.
It is ordained that to the ambitious, who derive no satisfaction from the gifts of life and the beauty of the world, life shall be a cause of suffering, and they shall possess neither the profit nor the beauty of the world.
Experience, the interpreter between creative nature and the human race, teaches the action of nature among mortals: how under the constraint of necessity she cannot act otherwise than as reason, who steers her helm, teaches her to act.
Those who fall in love with practice without science are like a sailor who enters a ship without a helm or a compass, and who never can be certain whither he is going.
Men standing in opposite hemispheres will converse and deride each other and embrace each other, and understand each other's language.
Having wandered some distance among gloomy rocks, I came to the entrance of a great cavern ... Two contrary emotions arose in me: fear and desire -- fear of the threatening dark cavern, desire to see whether there were any marvelous things in it.
Old age takes in part savoury wisdom for its food -- see to that your old age will not lack in nourishment.
The mole has very small eyes and it always lives under ground; and it lives as long as it is in the dark but when it comes into the light it dies immediately, because it becomes known; -- and so it is with lies.
In fact, whatever exists in the universe, in essence, in appearance, in the imagination, the painter has first in his mind and then in his hands ... it lies in his power to create them.
Men of lofty genius sometimes accomplish the most when they work least, for their minds are occupied with their ideas and the perfection of their conceptions, to which they afterwards give form.
If anyone wishes to see how the soul dwells in its body, let him observe how this body uses its daily habitation; that is to say, if this is devoid of order and confused, the body will be kept in disorder and confusion by its soul.
The act of procreation and anything that has any relation to it is so disgusting that human beings would soon die out if there were no pretty faces and sensuous dispositions.
O painter skilled in anatomy, beware lest the undue prominence of the bones, sinews and muscles cause you to become a wooden painter from the desire to make your nude figures reveal all.
Feathers shall raise men even as they do birds towards heaven. That is by letters written with their quills.
It should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which...you may find really marvellous ideas.
The vine that has grown old on an old tree falls with the ruin of that tree, and through that bad companionship must perish with it.
If you cause your ship to stop and place the head of a long tube in the water and place the outer extremity to your ear, you will hear ships at a great distance from you.
The light and heat of the universe comes from the sun, and its cold and darkness from the withdrawal of the sun.
I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.
I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
The vivacity and brightness of colors in a landscape will never bear any comparison with a landscape in nature when it is illumined by the sun, unless the painting is placed in such a position that it will receive the same light from the sun as does the landscape.
Look at light and admire its beauty. Close your eyes, and then look again: what you saw is no longer there; and what you will see later is not yet.
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