Is Leonardo da Vinci overrated?

by on October 18, 2017 at 1:52 pm in Books, History, The Arts, Uncategorized | Permalink

The Mona Lisa is not the best artwork ever, and as a painter I am not sure Leonardo is much better than either Mantegna or Piero della Francesca, neither of whom is much known to the general public, much less Titian.  He has no work as stunning as Michelangelo’s David, and too many of his commissions he left unfinished or he never started them.  The Notebooks display a fertile imagination, but do not contain much real knowledge of use, except on the aortic valve, nor did they boost gdp, nor are they worth reading.  Much of his science is weak on theory, even relative to his time.  In Milan he was too content to serve as court impresario, and he seemed to have no idea of how to apply his own talents in accord with comparative advantage.

His ability to take an idea and turn it into a memorable sketch was his most remarkable ability, and in this he is without peer.

Plus he painted “woman as gorgon” very very well, but with a sweetness too.

I can recommend Walter Isaacson’s new book on Leonardo as a wonderful introduction, but it does not change my mind on these points.

1 JWatts October 18, 2017 at 2:19 pm

You can always nitpick credential. I would ask, for the Renaissance who is greater than Leonardo da Vinci and why?

2 JWatts October 18, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Well clearly da Vinci is greater than Bandarra, or the much better known Nostradamus for that matter. But I was really looking for people who had, arguably, greater accomplishments than Leonardo da Vinci.

3 A Truth Seeker October 18, 2017 at 2:58 pm
4 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Well, the Prophet Bandarra was an good American, just like Jesus Christ. So please stop insulting his nation.

5 A Truth Seeker October 18, 2017 at 3:35 pm

He was not. Prophet Bandarra was a Portuguese shoemaker. Some think he was of Jewish stock, some people think he was not. He predicted the coming of the Hidden One.

6 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm

The Hidden One is Trump, right?

7 A Truth Seeker October 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm

No, it is not. The Hidden One is a mesianic figure who will create the Fifth Empire, the universal empire of peace and understanding led by Brazil. The prophecies of Isaiah will be fulfilled.
“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain”.

“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.”

8 CL October 18, 2017 at 6:16 pm

Exactly. His sculpture of David alone is incredible.

9 The Other Jim October 18, 2017 at 10:32 pm

Precisely this.

Ty lives in a world where people like him get “credit” for pointing out that something is over-rated or under-rated, usually in terms of political gain, but not always. His dream is to get invited onto NPR to discuss the matter.

His anti-Trump ravings for the last 11 months are simply not cutting it, so it’s time to delve into art.

It will not work out well for him. Expect a Trump rant within 6 days.

10 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 10:43 pm

Hey anotheranon, how’s this guy’s post for ‘content’?

11 Thor October 18, 2017 at 11:14 pm

Looks good to me!

12 josh October 19, 2017 at 9:22 am

Is this a joke or did Da Vinci do a statue of David?

13 RGB October 19, 2017 at 10:28 am

CL: #oops

14 Francisco Solano López October 18, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Bandarra, about whom it was said “His pen besmirches our noble tongue” ?
Bandarra, whose drunken maunderings were ignored by his contemporaries and forgotten by the rest of humanity?
That Bandarra?

15 A Truth Seeker October 19, 2017 at 7:49 am

The Prophet was esteemed by the noblest men of his time. Vieira, the greatest writer of Portugal’s history, favored his prophecies. Famous poet Fernando Pessoa used them as the foundation for his most famous work. The Prophet has not been forgotten. We still wait for the deljverance he promissed.

16 Aretino October 19, 2017 at 10:19 am

IMHO the greatest artist of this period is Albrecht Dürer. Besides being a painter comparable to Raphael and Michelangelo, he also is renown in other media, particularly engravings and woodcuts. He is probably the first prominent painter of landscapes. In addition, he wrote theoretical works on perspective and proportion and created photorealistic biological paintings.

17 Attila Smith October 19, 2017 at 3:48 pm

An excellent point! Dürer is sadly underrated, like many German painters: Caspar David Friedrich, Spitzweg, Both Cranchs Younger and Elder,…Who could not be moved by “Ritter, Tod und Teufel”,_Tod_und_Teufel#/media/File:Duerer_-_Ritter,_Tod_und_Teufel_(Der_Reuther).jpg, “Melencolia I” “Das große Rasenstück” ?
He was an excellent mathematician and dozens of books on linear algebra or analytic/projective geometry reproduce his ” Der Zeichner der Laute”

18 Attila Smith October 19, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Sorry, here is the correct link for Melencolia I:

19 Ted Craig October 18, 2017 at 2:25 pm
20 Li Zhi October 18, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Is your evaluation of his painting in some way notable? Well, it is your blog. Say, when was your last gallery show? And when’s your next? Did you watch Charlie Rose’s interview of the author? His opinion (but of course, if he’s not “a painter” then it hardly qualifies as a significant opinion, right?) was that Da Vinci did some really impressive things with light and perspective. He was self “educated” so your statement about him being “weak on theory” is hardly news, or even a minority view. While I don’t disagree that as a painter he is an “also ran”, comparing his painting to Michelangelo’s sculpture of David is apples and oranges. I continue to be puzzled about why the self-anointed illuminati seem to believe their opinion on art is any more significant that anyone else’s. I hold that art is in the mind of the beholder, and any attempt to compare my art to your art is about as foolish as comparing any other of our feelings. Which gets to the crux of my problem with this post. “Overrated” by who? What a waste of space. I’m sure no one will be looking up my bio in 500 years, how about you?

21 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Well, no one will be commenting on your blog let alone looking up your bio. Do you think of yourself as clever and edgy with these posts?

22 Anon October 18, 2017 at 2:39 pm


23 Ray Lopez October 18, 2017 at 3:40 pm

-1. +1 – 1 = 0, which is Anon and msgkings, to the extent they are not the same person.

24 Li Zhi October 18, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Thank you, Ray. At least someone here agrees with my insults of Tyler.

25 anotheranon October 18, 2017 at 4:51 pm

msgkings only contribution on this blog’s comment section is to raise and lower the status of other commenters, while contributing very little to the discussion at hand. When was the last time he made an interesting point? I don’t think ever.

26 anon October 18, 2017 at 5:07 pm

I, the most infamous anon, will acknowledge that msgkings does sometimes stake out a policy and/or moral position.

And for what it’s worth, I think the key to today is that Tyler wants to provide distraction and amusement, not connection to policy and/or moral position.

27 anotheranon October 18, 2017 at 7:13 pm

At least your posts contain content, however much I think you are a concern troll. msgkings literally does not post anything remotely interesting.

28 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 7:53 pm

Wrong anotheranon, I do both. Some of my posts are content, some are conversation, and others are tearing up posters who think it’s cute to be rude to the blog hosts, like prior_test, Art Deco, Other Jim, and Li Zhi. Also I troll the trolls like Ray Lopez and Thiago/Truth Seeker. You may not think any of my content is interesting, as is your right, but it’s still content. And I’ll put my stuff up against yours (have you ever posted before?) any day.

Every comment section is an ecosystem, and I operate well within the bounds of propriety. Relax man, we’re here because we enjoy it and we learn things.

29 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 10:47 pm

If he lets the others here rag on him like they do, he won’t be banning me. You’re nothing.

30 Sam the Sham October 19, 2017 at 5:43 am

I like msgkings. Not given to hyperbole or hysteria, sometimes I agree with him sometimes not.

And his and Thiago’s well-rehearsed dance quite amuses me.

31 Sam the Sham October 19, 2017 at 5:52 am

I realized I just agreed with Anon. Going to shower now (although this blog wouldn’t be the same either without him needing to check under the bed for Russians)

I wonder, what does this do to my status? I wonder if I care.

32 anon October 19, 2017 at 8:14 am

Check the polls, before thinking I am bothering you with oddball views. I mean sure, you can be mad at 54% of Americans for believing a thing, but not that it is just me.

33 anon October 19, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Oh oh. George W Bush just went full anon.

Never go full anon.

34 anon October 18, 2017 at 5:10 pm

It is not really a day to be at sea with current events, a better day to find safe harbor.

35 byomtov October 18, 2017 at 8:11 pm

Well said, IMO.

Tyler and Co. seem to fancy themselves Olympian geniuses of some sort. It’s a disease some people contract in high school and never get rid of.

36 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 9:45 pm

LOL byomtov the genius

37 john October 19, 2017 at 11:20 am

It’s probably unfair to try to take away someone’s way of life and observing and commenting on the external world it TC’s.

I do wonder a bit about the relationship between art, and artists, as a function of the time/zeitgeist/cultural period/… and the same of the critic/commentator on that prior art/artist. Perhaps TCs comments are “valid” today but 50 years ago and 100 year from now will be dismissed as misguided.

Which I think also points to the question of who might be looking up anyone bios in the future. Withe era of big, and persistent, data at hand I suspect the answer will be a cyclical one and likely some of the oddest or most obscure individuals popping up as “should have been important” or even hugely influential in their virtual afterlife then dismissed as cranks or misguided fools later (wash, rinse, repeat).

Suggests that too much effort for one’s place in history is probably grossly over rated and time and effort that could have been better spent by all but those deriving sufficient satisfaction from the activity regardless of the result.

38 rayward October 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm

From Benjamin Franklin to Steve Jobs to Leonardo (da Vinci is not part of Leonardo’s name, but rather signifies his birthplace), what connects these three (besides being subjects of Isaacson biographies)? This review ( finds a connection in enigma, the three subjects being enigmas. I read the Franklin biography (who hasn’t) and I think I read the Jobs biography (but I’m not sure – am I losing my memory or was the book unmemorable?). For those who haven’t seen it, the Louvre (the location of Mona Lisa) is enormous. In fact it’s so enormous, that visiting for only one day (or two days or three days, you get the idea) seems ridiculous, racing through while glancing for a few seconds at the enormous inventory of art. I suspect that many visitors are there to see the Mona Lisa, once having seen it moving on to the nearby Eiffel Tower.

39 Harun October 18, 2017 at 3:43 pm

I also went to see Hammurabi’s code.

But yes, it does seem like you’d need a week to really enjoy it.

40 Paul McKaskle October 18, 2017 at 2:32 pm

For my money Sandro Botticelli, more or less contemporary of Leonardo, is the world’s best painter–and Primavera is the world’s best painting.

41 Jeff R October 18, 2017 at 2:49 pm

Good pasta dish, too.

42 Attila Smith October 19, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Botticelli is my favourite painter of all times too (although I would select, by a hair’s breadth, The Birth of Venus as the world’s greatest painting). He is the epitome of European civilization, with a select few like Newton, Shakespeare, Gauß and Tchaikovski.
My informants tell me that this rather obvious rating is not as popular as it should on American campuses. Hard to believe and really amazing if true…

43 harpersnotes October 18, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Quality science fiction has always been appreciated by a only few highly imaginative minds. Leonardo da Vinci was under-rated.

44 Leonardo da Amitto October 18, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Good grief, what a reductive way to look at an artist. “Boost GDP”? You must be kidding.

45 Todd K October 18, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Some of us just grinned and let that slide….

46 Mark October 18, 2017 at 3:01 pm

Da Vinci was more than an artist. He was a polymath that worked in engineering, invention, architecture, and science among other things. It is appropriate to think about the greatness of someone across these fields in terms of how they changed the productivity or standard of living of fellow man.

Cowen was clearly viewing Da Vinci as more than an artist. He mentions his scientific theories, unfinished commissions, and lack of “real knowledge of use”.

47 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 3:04 pm

I’m ok with reducing Leonardo in status a bit, but he really should be given credit for just that, being an accomplished polymath in a time when almost no one knew or cared about the things he did. He’s pretty much on par with Ben Franklin and Leibniz and others. If he’s so unworthy who are his contemporaries that we should venerate instead (as JWatts asks above)?

48 Thor October 18, 2017 at 11:27 pm

Leibniz? Pfffst. Practically forgotten, even amongst philosophers.

49 Attila Smith October 19, 2017 at 4:28 pm

But not forgotten by mathematicians (nor readers of Voltaire’s scandalously unfair but very amusing Candide).

50 Thor October 18, 2017 at 11:26 pm

Don’t forget the amount of time he (Leonardo) spent trying to stay alive. I refer not only to his time in jail, but — you know — trying to stay living in the 15th cen. (I dong mean just getting food, I mean finding a patron etc.)

Re jail, didn’t he sketch plans for a jail bar breaking device? Practical, not complacent!

51 Dr. Joao Algarves October 18, 2017 at 3:01 pm

I really must insist you come in again, is Thursday at 11:00 ok for you?

52 A Truth Seeker October 18, 2017 at 4:27 pm

No, it is not. My health is perfect and my soundness of mind is envied by my acquaintance, who consider me remarkable.

53 KM32 October 18, 2017 at 6:01 pm

Not counting Brazilians, is there anyone who would vouch for your mental soundness?

54 A Truth Seeker October 18, 2017 at 6:28 pm

I mostly deal with Brazilians. A cousin of mine is Italian. A cousin of mine married an American.

55 Axa October 18, 2017 at 3:03 pm

It boosts Paris GDP 😉

56 Edm October 18, 2017 at 6:47 pm


57 Edm October 18, 2017 at 6:49 pm

Oops – replied to wrong post. I actually think Axa is right on.

58 Judah Benjamin Hur October 18, 2017 at 11:17 pm

It’s a humorous comment, but not without substance. For example, Albrecht Dürer was a superior artist and also generated considerable economic activity.

59 stephan October 18, 2017 at 2:52 pm

I always thought more of Michelangelo who could paint AND sculpt. Jealous Leonardo dismissed his Sistine chapel works as a ceiling painted by a sculptor. I think Michelangelo was as much of a human anatomist as Leonardo. Leonardo was more outgoing and much more connected than Michelangelo who was somewhat boorish and not very worldly.

Michelangelo had a fantastic memory for drawing ( according to Vasari) and could remember every line that he had drawn in his lifetime and never drew the same line twice. None of the figures in the Sistine ceiling have the same pose. He was constantly creating and never wanted to repeat himself or take an easy road. I think Leonardo is not overrated as a painter but as a scientist/genius/polymath I agree that he is.

60 Steve Reilly October 18, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Not sure about MIchelangelo as an anatomist. Women don’t look like this:

61 MikeP October 18, 2017 at 5:45 pm

He was gay so the female body didn’t interest him.

62 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 10:54 pm

Picasso’s nudes don’t look very normal and he was extremely hetero

63 Careless October 18, 2017 at 9:10 pm

I’d love to know what the person who paid for that thought when he saw it

64 josh October 19, 2017 at 9:28 am

I remember a tour guide told me that they didn’t have female nude models. Even Botticelli’s Venus looks like a man with breasts.

65 karl October 18, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Leonardo also sculpted, but none of his sculpture survived ( big surprise).

66 John Mansfield October 18, 2017 at 2:57 pm

So why does Leonardo’s investigation of the aortic valve receive a special nod of approval? What recommends that one line of exploration above all the rest he examined and conceptualized?

67 Axa October 18, 2017 at 3:00 pm

There are two Leonardos, the man and the Renaissance symbol.

The man may look flawed 5 centuries later but anyway impressive.

As a symbol, he represents Florence and the Renaissance. I hope you’re not underrating period in Europe.

Imagine someone writes a history book by year 2400 and takes Warren Buffet as a symbol of capitalism in early 21st century. Perhaps the guy is not the “best”. But the question you should be asking yourself should be: is this guy representative of the idea I want to explain?

Same for Leonardo, the symbol represents concepts, a period, a region, many things happened. If you worry about the man, you’re not reading well the history book.

68 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 3:05 pm


69 Axa October 18, 2017 at 3:16 pm

@Tyler: also read the “patronage” article in Wiki:

Rulers, nobles and very wealthy people used patronage of the arts to endorse their political ambitions, social positions, and prestige. Some patrons, such as the Medici of Florence, used artistic patronage to “cleanse” wealth that was perceived as ill-gotten through usury.

The Medicis were the patrons of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Galileo and many others……….so Leonardo da Vinci is the symbol for all of them, even the bankers.

70 chuck martel October 18, 2017 at 6:18 pm

An indicator of wealth then was having an extensive retinue, actually a requirement. Being the patron of an artist was the counterpart of owning a big television now. Life isn’t as complicated for the enormously wealthy today as it was in the past. Service industries have developed to satisfy their desires in a more economical manner. For instance, in the 15th century a truly wealthy individual with a passion for music would need to feed and house a number of musicians in addition to household help. Today he simply subscribes to the local symphony or opera. His servants, should he have any, can listen to recordings or even the radio. A studio photo portrait or just a good snapshot of his smirking wife has replaced the expensive oil that was once the only means of capturing the likeness of the lady.

71 Steve Sailer October 19, 2017 at 2:56 am

It doesn’t hurt Leonardo’s fame that he was in Florence, Rome, and Paris. He probably brought the Mona Lisa with him from Florence to Paris. Italy has lots of Italian Renaissance masterpieces, but France, the art superpower of the future, didn’t have all that many that were legitimately acquired the way the King of France appears to have bought the Mona Lisa.

72 anon October 18, 2017 at 3:24 pm

Perhaps Tyler sees Leonardo as merely an Elon Musk.

But in that sense, the incomplete man may more define the age.

73 John Mansfield October 18, 2017 at 3:01 pm

Which artists were greater scientists than Leonardo? Which scientists were greater artists than Leonardo?

74 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 3:05 pm


75 josh October 19, 2017 at 9:32 am

Serious question. What makes Leonardo a scientist?

76 John Mansfield October 19, 2017 at 2:42 pm

His investigations of nature make him a scientist. Whether he was a great scientist or a middling one, it is indisputable that he was observing and analyzing. My field is fluid dynamics and there are a couple of things that Leonardo was the first to describe. His work on hydraulics point the way to Pascal and Torricelli a century and a half later. His studies of turbulence and vorticity presaged developments that didn’t come until the middle of the 19th Century. It can be objected that his notebooks weren’t studied by anyone until relatively recently and so did nothing to move along progress in science. It is still amazing to look back at him seeing what no one else was seeing, in some cases not until centuries later.

77 Patster October 18, 2017 at 3:03 pm

“Las Meninas” by Diego Velasquez is the greatest painting, with “Along the River During
Qing Ming Festival”,by Zhang Zeduan a close second.

78 MikeP October 19, 2017 at 1:11 pm

I’ll vote for Diebenkorn’s “Citiscape 1” and Burchfield’s “Ice Glare.” Albert Marquet is the greatest oil painter and Chales Burchfield the greatest watercolorist.

79 Nick_L October 18, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Yes but, there’s a connection between Leonardo Da Vinci and Pacioli. It may be that Leonardo assisted or influenced Paccioli in his understanding of mathematics? And wasn’t Paccioli the man who published the first widely known work on double entry booking? And wasn’t it double entry booking that forever changed the world of finance, and thus Economics? So, how could an Economist think that Leonardo is over-rated? ( A stretch, I know..)

80 JayT October 18, 2017 at 3:18 pm

I tend to agree that he is overrated. From a purely aesthetic point of view, I’m not a fan of his artwork, though I understand it is important. He may well be rated correctly as far as that goes, I’m not an artist. It’s in the sciences that I find him to be terribly overrated. He was obviously very bright and had ideas ahead of his time, but none of those ideas actually came to fruition or changed the course of history. It’s one thing to have an innovative idea, but turning that idea into an actual thing is far more difficult and important.

81 Michael Savage October 18, 2017 at 3:31 pm

Among general public he’s over-rated for the reasons Tyler gives. But among specialists I think the correction might be over-done, at least in the artistic sphere. I personally prefer Mantegna and Piero, but they’re not better artists. He really was a giant. In retrospect it’s hard to appreciate how inventive and influential the High Renaissance masters were, because they were assimilated so completely. There’s also a certain inverted snobbishness (which I share) at the Mona Lisa’s place in popular culture.

82 Donald Pretari October 18, 2017 at 4:02 pm
83 megamike October 18, 2017 at 4:10 pm
84 Patster October 18, 2017 at 4:22 pm

It is! See comment above.

85 A Truth Seeker October 18, 2017 at 6:43 pm

86 Steve Sailer October 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Leonardo was perhaps the first celebrity. He was like a more talented Andy Warhol.

Earlier Renaissance artists like Donatello tended to be treated more like respected local craftsmen. We kind of back-project superstardom onto them.

So, maybe Leonardo’s greatest, most novel creation was his own role as an international celebrity whose company kings would compete over.

87 Steve Sailer October 18, 2017 at 4:32 pm

For example, who were the great artists who designed the Gothic Cathedral?. Surely Chartres, for example, had at least one, and probably several, architects and/or artists of genius working on it. But we have only a very hazy recollection of the individual identities of high medieval artists and architects.

We know more about early Renaissance figures in part because the subsequent fame of Leonardo during the high Renaissance as a man of genius made it seem reasonable to study up on his predecessors and not let knowledge of these individuals become obscured by time.

88 John Mansfield October 18, 2017 at 8:15 pm

That reminds me of a fun little show I saw one Fourth of July on a sidewalk in Philadelphia. Three actors were playing Benjamin Franklin as old, young, and middle-aged, chatting and singing with one another. Their finale had the chorus line “Ben Franklin’s life was his greatest invention.”

89 dearieme October 18, 2017 at 5:29 pm

Do I remember once reading that the scale of fuss about Leonardo was mainly a 20th century phenomenon?

90 Steve Sailer October 19, 2017 at 2:44 am

Leonardo was a very big deal during his lifetime, probably bigger than any artist in Christian times. But the cult of the Mona Lisa largely started in the 19th Century (e.g., Walter Pater). It was a big deal before: e.g., Napoleon put it in his bedroom. But it wasn’t all that accessible for much of its history.

But in the 19th and 20th Century, it was in the Louvre, the biggest, most important museum in the world, so it was seen and copied by huge numbers of artists. In contrast, Leonardo’s striking Lady with an Ermine portrait is in Poland, which is off the beaten path of famous artists.

In the history of art, it really helps to be in Paris.

91 Judah Benjamin Hur October 19, 2017 at 4:37 pm

See, “Lady with an Ermine” would be interesting on a top 10 list. It would also show that the list wasn’t compiled by a fourth grader doing homework using Google.

92 john byrne October 18, 2017 at 5:32 pm

chacun a son gout.

93 KM32 October 18, 2017 at 6:37 pm

But some gouts are better than others.

94 karl October 18, 2017 at 6:55 pm

Even so, sauce for the gouts is sauce for the gander.

95 Mark Bahner October 18, 2017 at 5:55 pm

“He has no work as stunning as Michelangelo’s David,…”

And Michelangelo’s David is nowhere near as stunning as his Pieta:

96 MikeP October 18, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Which is no where near as stunning as the Laocoon.

97 JayT October 18, 2017 at 6:42 pm

I’ve always liked Bernini’s David best.

98 Judah Benjamin Hur October 18, 2017 at 11:23 pm

What a boring list. Anyone with an ounce of creativity (and honesty) would have an unconventional favorite.

99 Steve Sailer October 19, 2017 at 2:46 am

Eh, there are good reasons that Michelangelo’s David is the most famous sculpture in the world and the other three are likely in the top ten.

100 Fyodor October 18, 2017 at 6:04 pm

Groan. Performative contrarianism is the curse of the Social Media Age.

That said, it takes an impressive degree of self-unaware chutzpah for Tyler Cowen, a fellow – like all of us – with much to be modest about, to declare a genuine polymath over-rated.

101 KM32 October 18, 2017 at 6:35 pm

I had a genuine lol when I saw this subject. It’s almost a joke, like asking if the moon landing was really all that impressive, or if maybe Stalin was underrated as wise and benevolent leader.

102 A Truth Seeker October 18, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Actually, Stalin was called The Froend of The Little Children.

103 Edm October 18, 2017 at 6:28 pm

I hope Tyler’s economic reasoning is more solid than his work as an art critic or science historian – but I have my doubts.

104 Dick the Butcher October 18, 2017 at 6:57 pm

Four hundred ninety-eight years from now, who among us will be remembered?

105 msgkings October 18, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Probably just you and Ray Lopez.

106 The Other Jim October 18, 2017 at 10:40 pm

The one who breeds the most, no doubt.

That rules out Dems, obviously.

I’m going with whoever is the most GOP among us.

Show yourselves, Republicans! I am not among you, but I can’t be the only one who is here just to mock this ongoing hypocritical shit-show.

107 Pipsterate October 18, 2017 at 11:39 pm

Are you saying that you remember all of your ancestors from four hundred and ninety-eight years ago?

Because I certainly don’t.

108 Careless October 18, 2017 at 10:41 pm

They’ll all have the internet stuck to their brains, including this comment section, so all of us?

109 JJ October 18, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Tyrone come help us.

110 Busby October 18, 2017 at 8:12 pm

“Piero della Francesca, neither of whom is much known to the general public, much less Titian.”

At least della Francesca gets a call out in Ghostbusters II.

Take that Leonardo!

111 Xmas October 18, 2017 at 8:46 pm

No increase in the GDP? What about his gold machine that the Mayflowers had Hudson Hawk gather the components for.

112 Ryan T October 18, 2017 at 9:05 pm

I’ve never thought of LDV this way, and now I feel like I should read more about him. Thank you.

113 buddyglass October 18, 2017 at 9:53 pm

He may be more celebrated because of the sheer diversity of his interests and talents. Painting, sculpting, mathematics, natural science, medicine, architecture, etc. That, and the fact that he speculated many inventions that were beyond the science of his time but eventually came to past.

114 efim polenov October 18, 2017 at 10:39 pm

My guess is that there have been several thousand Italians who have reached heights of artistry as high as our friend Leonardo did (see, e.g., Waugh, speaking in the voice of Charles Ryder, painting in the chapel at Brideshead, describing how he felt the inspiration of the High Renaissance artists for a time – sadly a short time – but for a time)… I also guess that Leonardo could never in a million years paint a woman in a natural female posture as well as VerMeer, could never in a billion years paint a heavenly background for a kind-hearted saint the way Raphael did day in and day out for decades, and could never ever ever (to quote Taylor Swift) paint, as Titian did, a repentant Magdalen, looking forward to her future life of love for others with a vanishing soupçon of regret in her eyes for the years where she did not quite understand that hope, the poor sweet woman: That being said, Leonardo’s background landscapes (the undulating rivers through the never quite rhythmic and never quite unrhythmic valleys, the noble trees with their uber-geometric grace, and the subtle proportions that make Ramanujan’s improvements of the number theory of his day – sorry Hardy, you know it is true – look, in memory, simplistic in comparison to the enchantments of those backgrounds, not quite perfected (time for a paragraph break). ………………….
John Singer Sargent once said that a painting is a portrait of a person with something wrong with the mouth and the hands……………………….
Leonardo, time and time again, got the hands right, got the facial expression right…………………………..
To criticize him as anything less than an eternally valuable painter would be like criticizing the Platonically ideal moments of the hilarious stooges – Men in Black, those days on the train with Marjorie White (much better if imagined in color – if I had friends in Silicon Valley with the swag to get it done, it would be done) – as being anything less than funny.

115 efim polenov October 18, 2017 at 10:41 pm

if you want to say a bot wrote that: go ahead. My feelings will not be hurt. “looking forward to her future life” (obviously, in heaven): Bots don’t write like that.

116 efim polenov October 18, 2017 at 11:12 pm

I actually don’t know anybody who knew John Kennedy Toole (well I have corresponded with Rod Dreher, sort of, and he is from Louisiana, the state in which New Orleans locates itself, so there’s that), and the closest connection to Joyce that I have is that a friend of mine has a cousin whose cousin was a writer Joyce admired, very much ( I may be off by a cousin or two….probably not, to tell the truth, but maybe, to be careful, I am off by “a cousin or two”) : and when I pastiche , for a sentence or two here or there in some comment that people wish had more paragraph breaks (and they are probably right) – as I was saying, when I pastiche JKOToole or the elderly Joyce, God bless his loving little writerly heart, for a sentence or two, and I am then criticized for sounding like a bot: it is just too melancholy! Cheers, anyway !!!

117 efim polenov October 18, 2017 at 11:22 pm

yes that is exactly how I would teach a bot to talk….so there’s that

118 Cam Foster October 18, 2017 at 11:18 pm

Dangling modifier alert: “The Mona Lisa is not the best artwork ever, and as a painter I am not sure Leonardo is much better than either Mantegna or Piero della Francesca…”

I was not aware that Tyler is a painter! Well, he’s a terrific painter of conversations and ideas, etc., but I mean in the literal sense.

119 efim polenov October 18, 2017 at 11:21 pm

so if you want to mock me as a bot go ahead. it is just too f**king melancholy, except for the fact that someone, somewhere, who has not laughed in too long a time, will laugh. (and yes Las Meninas have never, in light of what they were trying to express, been outpointed – chebere, amigos et amigas, chebere).

120 KM32 October 19, 2017 at 6:53 am

Bot . . . incoherent ramblings. Take your pick.

121 efim polenov October 19, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Look up the references you do not understand. To do so might require a humility that most millennials do not have: you can do better. If you understood every word at the simple level that a person who knows the words in a basic dictionary knows those words, you would not have said what you said. You can do better! The world is full of coherent people, who have something to say, but who do not condescend to be simplistic just because you are an entitled millennial. you may think they are incoherent: your loss.

122 efim polenov October 21, 2017 at 1:26 am

To be fair I would say something similar to Leonardo – try harder, my young Florentian friend! work on more, better pictures; try and look at a woman the way a man who loves only women looks at a woman, if just for a moment, read the Bible with a little more enthusiasm, and, as good as you are at number theory – unless you were faking your knowledge, pastiching in your genius way the landscapes of the best of the Tartars who had wandered, far from their Oriental home, into your beloved Florence and its sister cities, in a way that may have fooled me, all these hundreds of years later, into thinking that you were a Ramanujan avant la lettre – as good as you are at number theory, remember, God loves us the way we are but loves us too much to let us stay that way: just as true for those who are gifted as for those who are not! (I was not fooled, by the way: impressed, but not fooled).

123 Em October 18, 2017 at 11:31 pm

The Last Supper is still excellent Tyler. Forget about Gioconda. It’s for philistines.

124 Will October 19, 2017 at 12:57 am

Self parody accomplished.

125 Seth October 19, 2017 at 10:57 am

He seemed to pass the market test. I always thought Olive Garden was overrated, but it sells a lot of pasta. Taylor Swift…meh.

126 chuck martel October 19, 2017 at 11:19 am
127 Halloween Jack October 19, 2017 at 5:15 pm

If there’s anything that’s seriously overrated, it’s contrarian hot takes by bloggers.

128 AnthonyB October 22, 2017 at 11:14 am

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