The Genius of Leonardo

Guido Visconti, Author, Bimba Landmann, Illustrator Barefoot Books $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-84148-301-6
Intelligent as its text may be, this apprentice's-eye view of Leonardo da Vinci is overshadowed by the illustrations. The picture-book biography offers a glimpse of the master's later years, including his paintings of the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Visconti incorporates comments from Leonardo's notebooks as he imagines exchanges between the great artist and an inquisitive but not always dependable young servant. Landmann, whose artwork was ideally matched to A Boy Named Giotto, here seems stylistically at odds with her subject. Her eerily elongated figures, with their mask-like Byzantine faces slanting down upon their necks, take on perpetually mournful postures. The greenish skin tones, the arid landscapes and the forceful stillness of the compositions contribute to a generally morbid air that the illustrator's splashes of silver ink do little to dispel. Landmann's renderings of Leonardo's sketches and of his Mona Lisa are swift gestures, a shorthand that implies the audience's foreknowledge. Readers who want to learn the details of the Italian Renaissance leader's life, scientific explorations and artwork would do better with Diane Stanley's Leonardo da Vinci. Ages 7-up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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