Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Leonardo da Vinci, fully Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci

Italian Renaissance Polymath, Painter, Sculptor, Inventor, Architect, Musician, Scientist, Mathematician, Engineer, Anatomist, Geologist, Cartographer, Botanist and Writer

"Among the great things which are to be found among us, the Being of Nothingness is the greatest."

"A good painter is to paint two main things, namely men and the working of man's mind."

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

"Force is only a desire for flight: it lives by violence and dies from liberty."

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

"Inequality is the cause of all local movements."

"Intellectual passion drives out sensuality."

"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."

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

"Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen."

"Just as courage imperils life, fear protects it."

"The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions."

"Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it."

"Nature never breaks her own laws."

"Nothing can be loved or hated unless it is first known."

"What beauty enters through the eye!... Through the window of the eye the soul regards the world's beauty. For the eye endureth the soul the prison of human form. Without the eye that prison were its torment."

"The painter who draws by practice and judgment of the eye without the use of reason is like the mirror which reproduces within itself all the objects which are set opposite it without knowledge of the same."

"Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it."

"The time will come when men… will look on the murder of animals as the now look on the murder of men."

"Who sows virtue reaps honor."

"All our knowledge has its origin in our perceptions."

"Just as iron rusts from disuses… so our intellect wastes unless it is kept in use."

"A painter above all must keep his mind as clear as the surface of a mirror."

"The painter will produce pictures of little merit if he takes the works of others as his standard."

"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."

"Poor is the pupil who does not surpass their Master."

"The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves."

"The water you touch in a river is the last of that which has passed, and the first of that which is coming. Thus it is with time present."

"The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding."

"He who never puts his trust in any man will never be deceived."

"Life well spent is long."

"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."

"As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself."

"Art is never finished, only abandoned. "

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

"Experience does not err. Only your judgments err by expecting from her what is not in her power."

"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

"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."

"It's easier to resist at the beginning than at the end."

"Learning never exhausts the mind. "

"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."

"The truth of things is the chief nutriment of superior intellects."

"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."

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. "

"Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge."

"While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die."

"Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in."

"Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?"

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

"The knowledge of all things is possible."