FEW men have better earned the title of universal genius than Da Vinci. An ardent disciple of Nature, disdaining mere superficial knowledge, he went to the root of whatever he took up, and attained an intimate acquaintance especially with everything that bore on his beloved art of painting. And this art was understood by him in its widest sense. Not content with representing the mere outward appearance of Nature or of the human form, he considered it a part of his business as a painter to investigate the laws which produce those appearances or which govern that form in its healthy state. To the long list of his acquirements given in the catalogue of the Louvre collection, as painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, physicist, writer, and musician, may now be added that of botanist. In the first number of a new botanical journal, Nuovo Giornale Botanico Italiano, published at Florence, Sig. G. Uzielli has given some interesting extracts from a work by Da Vinci, from which he would appear to have anticipated the discovery of certain botanical laws generally attributed to writers of a later age. These extracts are taken from a section of his great treatise on painting, entitled “On Trees and Vegetation,” which, however, is found only in one edition of that work, the Roman. The following are the points on which the originality of his observations deserves especial mention.
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BENNETT, A. Leonardo Da Vinci as a Botanist. Nature 2, 42–43 (1870). https://doi.org/10.1038/002042a0