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Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was a respected and honored genius of the Renaissance era, and an Italian painter and inventor. His observations of the world around him were well-documented in his numerous sketchbooks, which still impress us to this day for both their artistic and scientific brilliance.
As a painter, Leonardo is best known for The Last Supper (1495) and Mona Lisa (1503). As an inventor, Leonardo was fascinated by the promise of mechanical flight and designed flying machines that were centuries ahead of their time.
- "For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return."
- "It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things."
- "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."
- "Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are most active."
- "As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself."
- "Learning never exhausts the mind."
- "I have wasted my hours."
- "All sciences are vain and full of errors that are not born of experience, the mother of all knowledge."
- "The acquisition of knowledge is always of use to the intellect, because it may thus drive out useless things and retain the good. For nothing can be loved or hated unless it is first known."
- "Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind. So we must stretch ourselves to the very limits of human possibility. Anything less is a sin against both God and man."
Engineering & Invention
- "Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous."
- "The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art."
- "Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience, it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason."
- "Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. 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 and proportion is more readily seen."
- "The truth of things is the chief nutriment of superior intellects."
- "Just as courage imperils life, fear protects it."
- "Nature never breaks her own laws."
- "I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death."
- "Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in."
- "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."
The following are common quotes attributed to Leonardo da Vinci; however, he just did not say them.
"I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men." Unfortunately these are not the words of Leonardo. They were written by Russian author Dmitry Sergeyevich Merezhkovsky (Russian, 1865-1941) in his historical fiction titled The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci. Source: Was Leonardo a Vegetarian?
"Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else." And that gem of a quote was made by Tom Peters in his article The Best Corporate Strategy?