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Leonardo da Vinci Quotations

Leonardo da Vinci Quotations

This article lists some quotations by the genius, Leonardo da Vinci, of the Italian Renaissance.
Quotabulary Staff
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (1452-1519) was a man of many talents from the Italian Renaissance. Among many other things he was a painter, sculpture, and writer. He is considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time. Here are some quotes by him.

1. Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.

2. The color of the object illuminated partakes of the color of that which illuminates it.

3. He who possesses most must be most afraid of loss.

4. A good painter has two main objects to paint, man and the intention of his soul. The former is easy, the latter hard as he has to represent it by the attitude and movement of the limbs.

5. Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.

6. One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.

7. Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.

8. Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.

9. You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand.

10. Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer; since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller, and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lack of harmony or portion is more readily seen.

11. The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.

12. If you are alone you belong entirely to yourself.

13. The supreme misfortune is when theory outstrips performance.

14. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

15. Sculpture, a very noble art, is one that does not in the execution require the same supreme ingenuity as the art of painting, since in two most important and difficult particulars, in foreshortening and in light and shade... the painter has to invent a process, [whereas] sculpture is helped by nature.

16. Practice should always be based upon a sound knowledge of theory.

17. There are three aspects to perspective. The first has to do with how the size of objects seems to diminish according to distance: the second, the manner in which colors change the farther away they are from the eye; the third defines how objects ought to be finished less carefully the farther away they are.

18. Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.

19. Just as eating against one's will is injurious to health, so study without a liking for it spoils the memory, and it retains nothing it takes in.

20. If anyone wishes to see how the soul dwells in its body, let him observe how this body uses its daily habitation; that is to say, if this is devoid of order and confused, the body will be kept in disorder and confusion by its soul...

21. The vivacity and brightness of colors in a landscape will never bear any comparison with a landscape in nature when it is illumined by the sun, unless the painting is placed in such a position that it will receive the same light from the sun as does the landscape.

22. Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.

23. Nothing is more apt to deceive us than our own judgment of our work. We derive more benefit from having our faults pointed out by our enemies than from hearing the opinions of friends.

24. You should often amuse yourself when you take a walk for recreation, in watching and taking note of the attitudes and actions of men as they talk and dispute, or laugh or come to blows with one another... noting these down with rapid strokes, in a little pocket-book which you ought always to carry with you.

25. He who wishes to be rich in a day will be hanged in a year.

26. Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.

27. It should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which... you may find really marvelous ideas.

28. Do not imitate one another's style. If you do, so far as your art is concerned you will be called a grandson, rather than the son of Nature.

29. As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.