“Those who want to grow rich in a day live for a long time in great poverty.”

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci (self-portrait, circa 1512)

Leonardo Da Vinci, a celebrated thinker of the Italian Renaissance, wrote that to one of his critics, suggesting the value of a creative process is related to the creator’s passion and special talents. During the turn of the 16th century, he meticulously recorded his studies of painting, architecture, mechanics and human anatomy in illustrated notebooks. Bill Gates purchased his Codex Leicester for $30.8 million in 1994, arguably making it the world’s most valued book. Speaking of his purchase, Gates said, “He built these notebooks about how light worked, how water worked, how weapons would work. Of course he designed all sorts of flying machines, like helicopters, way before you could actually build something like that.” Some researchers say Da Vinci’s notes show evidence that he envisioned something like Google Glass.

Leonardo Da Vinci's Studies of the Shoulder

Leonardo Da Vinci’s studies of the shoulder.

During his time, Da Vinci was often criticized for the accuracy and usefulness of his anatomical drawings. But today, hundreds of years later, his ability to record his observations is greatly considered unmatched in beauty. Da Vinci believed that “everything connects to everything else,” which is a commonly understood part of creative thinking. A creative idea is often a combination of unrelated ideas, or an understanding of their relationships.

“And you, who say that it would be better to watch an anatomist at work than to see these drawings, you would be right, if it were possible to observe all the things which are demonstrated in such drawings in a single figure, in which you, with all your cleverness, will not see nor obtain knowledge of more than some few veins, to obtain a true and perfect knowledge of which I have dissected more than ten human bodies, destroying all the other members, and removing the very minutest particles of the flesh by which these veins are surrounded, without causing them to bleed, excepting the insensible bleeding of the capillary veins; and as one single body would not last so long, since it was necessary to proceed with several bodies by degrees, until I came to an end and had a complete knowledge; this I repeated twice, to learn the differences.”

“And if you should have a love for such things you might be prevented by loathing, and if that did not prevent you, you might be deterred by the fear of living in the night hours in the company of those corpses, quartered and flayed and horrible to see. And if this did not prevent you, perhaps you might not be able to draw so well as is necessary for such a demonstration; or, if you had the skill in drawing, it might not be combined with knowledge of perspective; and if it were so, you might not understand the methods of geometrical demonstration and the method of the calculation of forces and of the strength of the muscles; patience also may be wanting, so that you lack perseverance.”

Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Leicester

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester

2 thoughts on “Leonardo Da Vinci

  1. Pingback: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. | mystylitaly


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