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Walter Isaacson’s biography reveals a new side to da Vinci

There’s no reason to fret about how much is original here

By Philip Ball   December 2017

Is there anything new to be said about Leonardo da Vinci? Walter Isaacson’s massive new biography inevitably prompts that question, although he takes in the recent (persuasive) claim by art historian Martin Kemp and Giuseppe Pallanti to have identified Leonardo’s mother as a poor rural orphan. But there’s no reason to fret about how much is original here. Isaacson’s book is an excellent one-stop shop: engagingly written, well researched and full of illuminating observations about the art. The Last Supper shows how Leonardo bent the rules of perspective to improve the…

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