20+ Best Leonardo da Vinci Quotes I Wish I Had Read

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Born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci was the epitome of a “Renaissance man.” Possessor of a curious mind and keen intellect, da Vinci studied the laws of science and nature, which greatly informed his work as a painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, military engineer and draftsman. 

His ideas and body of work—which includes “Virgin of the Rocks,” “The Last Supper” and “Mona Lisa”—have influenced countless artists and made da Vinci a leading light of the Italian Renaissance.

We have compiled a list of Leonardo da Vinci quotes for you to read.


Leonardo da Vinci Quotes

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.


Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.


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.


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.


The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.


A beautiful body perishes, but a work of art dies not.


Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.


Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.


Time abides long enough for those who make use of it.


Painting is concerned with all the 10 attributes of sight; which are: Darkness, Light, Solidity and Colour, Form and Position, Distance and Propinquity, Motion and Rest.


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


The human bird shall take his first flight, filling the world with amazement, all writings with his fame, and bringing eternal glory to the nest whence he sprang.


He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.


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.


It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.


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


Just as food eaten without appetite is a tedious nourishment, so does study without zeal damage the memory by not assimilating what it absorbs.


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


I have found that, in the composition of the human body as compared with the bodies of animals, the organs of sense are duller and coarser. Thus, it is composed of less ingenious instruments, and of spaces less capacious for receiving the faculties of sense.


Medicine is the restoration of discordant elements; sickness is the discord of the elements infused into the living body.


It seems that it had been destined before that I should occupy myself so thoroughly with the vulture, for it comes to my mind as a very early memory, when I was still in the cradle, a vulture came down to me, he opened my mouth with his tail and struck me a few times with his tail against my lips.


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.


Experience never errs; it is only your judgments that err by promising themselves effects such as are not caused by your experiments.


Weight, force and casual impulse, together with resistance, are the four external powers in which all the visible actions of mortals have their being and their end.


There are four Powers: memory and intellect, desire and covetousness. The two first are mental and the others sensual. The three senses: sight, hearing and smell cannot well be prevented; touch and taste not at all.


The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.


All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.


In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.


Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.


The divisions of Perspective are 3, as used in drawing; of these, the first includes the diminution in size of opaque objects; the second treats of the diminution and loss of outline in such opaque objects; the third, of the diminution and loss of color at long distances.


The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies everything placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence.


The length of a man’s outspread arms is equal to his height.


Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are most active.


Every action needs to be prompted by a motive.


In order to arrive at knowledge of the motions of birds in the air, it is first necessary to acquire knowledge of the winds, which we will prove by the motions of water in itself, and this knowledge will be a step enabling us to arrive at the knowledge of beings that fly between the air and the wind.


Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!


The beginnings and ends of shadow lie between the light and darkness and may be infinitely diminished and infinitely increased. Shadow is the means by which bodies display their form. The forms of bodies could not be understood in detail but for shadow.


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


Beyond a doubt truth bears the same relation to falsehood as light to darkness.


There is no object so large but that at a great distance from the eye it does not appear smaller than a smaller object near.


I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.


Man and animals are in reality vehicles and conduits of food, tombs of animals, hostels of Death, coverings that consume, deriving life by the death of others.


Just as courage is the danger of life, so is fear its safeguard.


Many are they who have a taste and love for drawing, but no talent; and this will be discernible in boys who are not diligent and never finish their drawings with shading.


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


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


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.


Art is never finished, only abandoned.


Our life is made by the death of others.


Learning never exhausts the mind.


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


Nature never breaks her own laws.


The senses are of the earth, the reason stands apart from them in contemplation.


Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has no effect without cause nor invention without necessity.


The mind of the painter must resemble a mirror, which always takes the color of the object it reflects and is completely occupied by the images of as many objects as are in front of it.


Who sows virtue reaps honor.


Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel.


You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself.


Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge.


Water is the driving force of all nature.


The function of muscle is to pull and not to push, except in the case of the genitals and the tongue.


There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.


Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.


The natural desire of good men is knowledge.


Common Sense is that which judges the things given to it by other senses.


The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.


The Medici created and destroyed me.


The poet ranks far below the painter in the representation of visible things, and far below the musician in that of invisible things.


I have always felt it is my destiny to build a machine that would allow man to fly


Intellectual passion drives out sensuality.


Knowledge of the past and of the places of the earth is the ornament and food of the mind of man.


All knowledge which ends in words will die as quickly as it came to life, with the exception of the written word: which is its mechanical part.


The smallest feline is a masterpiece.


People talk to people who perceive nothing, who have open eyes and see nothing; they shall talk to them and receive no answer; they shall adore those who have ears and hear nothing; they shall burn lamps for those who do not see.


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


I have wasted my hours.


Life well spent is long.


Necessity is the mistress and guide of nature. Necessity is the theme and inventers of nature, her curb and her eternal law.


Our body is dependent on Heaven and Heaven on the Spirit.


The spirit desires to remain with its body, because, without the organic instruments of that body, it can neither act, nor feel anything.


Science is the captain, and practice the soldiers.


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


Just as courage imperils life, fear protects it.


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


It is better to imitate ancient than modern work.


How many emperors and how many princes have lived and died and no record of them remains, and they only sought to gain dominions and riches in order that their fame might be ever-lasting.


The painter who is familiar with the nature of the sinews, muscles, and tendons, will know very well, in giving movement to a limb, how many and which sinews cause it; and which muscle, by swelling, causes the contraction of that sinew; and which sinews, expanded into the thinnest cartilage, surround and support the said muscle.


To such an extent does nature delight and abound in variety that among her trees there is not one plant to be found which is exactly like another; and not only among the plants, but among the boughs, the leaves and the fruits, you will not find one which is exactly similar to another.


For, verily, great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you little know it, you will be able to love it only little or not at all.


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


Each man is always in the middle of the surface of the earth and under the zenith of his own hemisphere, and over the center of the earth.

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