December 26, 2016

At the age of twenty-five, Leonardo “had not yet accomplished anything that was entirely his own, he had little to show for himself, and his only claim to fame was to have been cited in a notorious criminal case. At his age, Masaccio had accomplished most of his life’s work. Leonardo, starting to feel himself a failure, was discovering how quickly time flies.”

“How many times had he bitterly scribbled, while trying out a new pen: “Tell me if anything has ever been achieved; tell me”; “Tell me if I have ever done anything that…”; “Tell me, tell if ever…”. And the failures had been repeated over the years, as they would continue to be to the end of his life. … Nor did the mathematics and geometry in which he was immersed lead anywhere. … Neither would he outdo Archimedes — nor would he succeed in flying.”

According to Vasari, Leonardo conceived of problems that were “so subtle, so astonishing”, that he could not resolve them despite his skill.

“It is at the moment that they are least that higher minds achieve the most; they are then mentally in search of the unprecedented and find the perfect form for the ideas, which they afterward express by tracing with their hands what they have conceived in their minds.”
~ “Leonardo. The artist and the man”, Serge Bramly.

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