This reading group guide for Da Vinci's Ghost includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Toby Lester. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is one of the most recognizable and reproduced images in the world. In Da Vinci’s Ghost
, Toby Lester examines why and how Leonardo came to draw the image. As Lester shows, Leonardo’s drawing gave unforgettable visual expression to an idea first set forth by a Roman architect named Vitruvius: namely, the idea that the proportions of the ideal human being are harmonious with those of nature and the cosmos. But Lester also reveals that the drawing provides a fascinating window through which to review and rethink all sorts of subjects, ranging from ancient theories of beauty to medieval church building to science and art in the Renaissance, while also helping to shed new light on the life and work of Leonardo himself. Surprisingly, Lester also notes that this apparently timeless image only achieved its iconic status a half century ago, when the art critic Kenneth Clark included it in a bestselling book titled The Nude
. The book’s publication released the pic