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Rediscovering the brilliant da Vinci
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Forsyth County News


* Check out the ongoing Payette Bible series.

For months, I have immersed myself in research for the Forsyth County News’ 12-week series on the Payette Bibles, as seen below.

For most people, that might sound like punishment. But for me, it has been an extraordinary experience.

I would like to thank all of you for your interest in this amazing collection of rare Bibles that belongs to Forsyth resident Charles Payette. And I also want those of you who have reached out to me to know your kind words mean so much.

I have always been a history lover and my favorite period just happens to be the medieval times through the Renaissance and a bit beyond.

Of course, that just happens to encompass the time period of many of the Bibles in Payette’s collection. That said, I have certainly had my history on lately.

When I first started researching and refreshing my mind to the history I studied a “few” years ago in college, I came across many historical figures that I so loved.

One such person is Leonardo da Vinci. His full name was Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (April 15, 1452-May 2, 1519). He was a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. Whew, so brilliant and talented. What a resume.

Most of us know who Leonardo is because of his famous paintings, the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.”

Just what is it about the “Mona Lisa” that makes all of us so intrigued? There is so much speculation out there about who she really was and what she was thinking. There’s even a theory that “she” was really a “he.”

One thing you might not have known is that Leonardo never really considered the painting finished and was constantly working on it until his death. In fact, did you know Leonardo really rarely “completed” his works, at least to his own personal satisfaction?

A procrastinator who is a genius? Maybe that’s another thing I like about him.

There are still thousands of pages of drawings and other writings of Leonardo’s that show his extraordinary mind. He made sketches of things that were far ahead of his time. That just shows us what a genius he really was.

I always think people of this sort of mindset must have been terribly lonely. Who could relate to him? Not his fellow genius and talented contemporary Michelangelo.

I find it interesting that Leonardo and Michelangelo didn’t like each other. Apparently, Leonardo thought painting to be superior to sculpture. Why am I surprised by two extreme egos at odds with each other?

Art historians note that his landscapes and backgrounds were different from other artists of the time. His water scenes are amazing and stem from his fascination with the movement of water, flooding and the history of the earth’s geology.

Leonardo’s thousands of pages of drawings also show his fascination with the human body, which in and of itself is perhaps not surprising for a painter.

But he also drew intricate drawings of the heart and vascular system and other bone and muscular structures. These are some of the first we have in such detail.

The fact that he recorded more than 13,000 pages of notes and observations is incredible. And there must have been many other pages he threw away.

Many, if not most of Leonardo’s works did not survive due to his constant and often disastrous experimentation with new artistic techniques.

It may have been awhile since you looked at art from yesteryear, but I would encourage you to do so, either on the computer or in art history books (remember, we have a terrific library system in Forsyth County).

It is interesting to look at artists before Leonardo and then look at his work. Even if you are not an art historian (and I’m certainly not), you can really see how his style and technique was so different. It’s also easy to see why he is still considered one of the greatest artists of all time.


Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at