Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Shadow Drawing: How Science Taught Leonardo How to Paint


The Shadow Drawing is an academically rigorous look at Leonardo da Vinci's development as a polymath and especially how his understanding of mathematical principles and physics informed and helped develop his visual art (as opposed to most traditional historical interpretations which have daVinci moving from visual art to more engineering, design, and invention in the later years of his life). Released 17th Nov 2020 by Macmillan on their Farrar Strauss & Giroux imprint, it's 384 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

Despite being an academic, Dr. Francesca Fiorani writes accessibly and authoritatively on the subject and I found myself often so fascinated and caught up in the story that I forgot the amount of time I'd spent reading. Despite being partially an expository work, it is exhaustively annotated and defended with period and contemporary references. The language is precise, but certainly accessible to the average layman reader. 

The book is full of facsimile drawings and artwork reproduced in grayscale and in the electronic format, in high definition. The chapter notes and annotations are thorough and provide rich resources for further learning.

I would recommend this one to students of art and history, science, the Italian renaissance, mathematics in art, and lovers of well written nonfiction. This would also make a superlative selection for library acquisition as well as a good supplemental text for classroom study in allied subjects.

Five stars. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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