Leonardo da Vinci: The Biography by Walter Isaacson

What do you know about Leonardo da Vinci?

  • he painted The Last Supper and Mona Lisa
  • he drew Vitruvian Man
  • he was left-handed
  • he wrote right to left on the page in mirror script
  • he was hundreds of years ahead of his time in some scientific disciplines

Mike Sissons, the young artist, was a fan. He was first to tell me those facts.

I loved Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography. For me Leonardo was not as riveting as the Jobs book. But I still recommend it. Leonardo’s life story is very interesting and entertaining.

I was surprised to learn Leonardo finished very few projects over his long career. He died carrying Mona Lisa and other paintings around with him as he simply could never decided they were finished.

He was more interested in studying the tongue of the woodpecker than in working on his paintings.

At times he hated the paint brush. Studying nature to satisfy his own curiosity was more compelling, especially near the end of his life.

His last words:

The soup is getting cold. 

I bought the audio version but Kindle would be better. The book comes with 144 illustrations.

Blake Morrison review:

Flamboyant, illegitimate and self taught, he was unreliable and an unashamed self-publicist. He was also one of the most gifted and inventive men in history

Leonardo da Vinci: The Biography by Walter Isaacson review – unparalleled creative genius



The Hand, Punta del Este, URUGUAY

La Mano (The Hand) is a sculpture in Punta del Este by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal. It depicts five human fingers partially emerging from sand …

It is also known as either Monumento al Ahogado (Monument to the Drowning Man), Los Dedos (The Fingers), or Hombre emergiendo a la vida(Man Emerging into Life). In English, it’s popular name is The Hand. …

While Irarrázabal had the entire summer to complete the project, he managed to finish in the first six days …

He later made near or exact replicas of the sculpture for the city of Madrid (in 1987), the Mano del Desierto (Hand of the Desert) in the Atacama Desert in Chile (1992), and in Venice (1995). …

I was surprised to find it directly across from the bus terminal. Not nearly as romantic a location as you’d guess from the photos.

Crowded most of the day, I went early morning to get the Hand to myself.

It’s deteriorating, as well. One day they’ll need do a restoration.

related – the Mano del Desierto located in the Atacama Desert in Chile.


Buenos Aires – Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Free and popular. The National Museum of Fine Arts is well worth a visit.

Generally I use art museums as a chance to get in some speed walk training. But this one slowed me down a number of times.

I like impressionists. Especially this guy.

I like sculpture and there is some impressive work on display. Rodin, for sure.

I thought I liked Miró after a past visit to Barcelona. Turns out I was wrong. His work is random.

One classroom seems to offer children the chance to emulate Miró. Most of their first efforts are superior.

Modern art?

Worse than Miro.

I did like this portrait of Jack Kerouac by Cambre.

Don’t get me started on Canada’s most valuable painting – Voice of Fire.

National Gallery of Art, Washington

I’m not much of an Art Gallery fan, truth be told. I mostly use museums like this for speed walking.

But free of charge I quite enjoyed this one.

The National Gallery of Art is located on the National Mall, …

The special exhibition was Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting. I’d never before paid any attention to Vermeer. But now agree he was a genius.

Normally the lives of rich, dead white Europeans bores me to tears. But Vermeer and those he inspired were really on to something. Daily life. Quiet scenes unfolding in private household spaces.

I’d definitely visit the National Gallery again in future as I did not nearly see all of the exhibits. Not even by speed walking.


inspired by Lincoln

No President, not even Washington, inspires Americans more than honest Abe.

There are well over 15,000 books written about him.

Ford Theater bookstore

I visited the Lincoln Memorial twice. It’s very popular at dusk.

His statue could not be more impressive.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Gettysburg Address

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention were hosting an Out of the Darkness Walk here when I visited.

In 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I have a dream…” speech here.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal’.

Lincoln’s work is far from finished. He needs inspire many more for many generations to come.