Talk:Leonardo da Vinci

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Does anyone know if this quote is really Da Vinci, and if so from what? "The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding."

We need some way to search what we find in the case of a big guy like da Vinci.

How would I sift out everything he has said on "Nature"?


I would suggest using your browser's "find" function to search for "Nature". Alternatively, you could go to Nature and search Da Vinci quotes there. If you find any which are on one page and not the other, please feel free to copy them! ~ MosheZadka (Talk) 06:48, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Why are some quotes in bold and some not? Those in bold do not appear to be more important than those which are not. ~ FL .


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote from this list please move it to Leonardo da Vinci. --Antiquary 12:08, 24 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • 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.
  • Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.
    • Search the three instances of "authority" on the main page.
  • Art is never finished, only abandoned.
    • Also sometimes attributed to Picasso.
      • Actually a paraphrase of Paul Valéry. No, look at the date of such attribution: see W. H. Auden in Collected Poems 1965 re "Poetry is never finished; it is only abandoned." DaVinci as source of "Art is never finished ... " predates by several hundred years -- see Giorgio Vasari Le vite de' piu eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani 1550, revised 1568. see also, e.g., Narim Bender "Leonardo da Vinci: What He Said" crediting Vasari.
  • Everything moveable thrown with fury through the air continues the motion of its mover; if, therefore, the latter move in a circle and release it in the course of this motion, its movement will be curved.
  • He who does not punish evil commands that it be done. - Legitimate. From MS H, 118v
  • Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel.
  • Poor is the pupil that does not surpass his master. - Legitimate. From Codex Forster III, 66v
  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
  • When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.

Unsourced in other languages (i.e. Chinese)[edit]

English-language quotations have been sourced for well over a decade. This is not the case in other languages. Witness for instance the Chinese-language version of this page. None of these are sourced, and as far as I can tell most of them are not quotations by Leonardo.

Will there be a clean-up of Wikiquote in other languages as well?

"Once you have tasted flight..."[edit]

  • When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.

Regrettably, this appears not to be a genuine da Vinci quote. According to Dave English at Great Aviation Quotes,

This must be the most famous aviation quote that is not a verifiable quote. It is attributed everywhere (including some Smithsonian publications and the Washington Post) to Leonardo da Vinci, but I've never found definitive source information. Neither did some nice folks I talked with at 'National Geographic Magazine,' who contacted one of the world's leading Leonardo authorities in Italy as part of a long research process and were told that Leonardo da Vinci did not write it.

According to Google Book Search, the earliest appearance is 1975 in Analog Magazine (the story "The Storms of Windhaven", by Lisa Tuttle and George R.R. Martin), followed by the 1982 book "Windhaven". According to Lisa Tuttle, it was Ben Bova, the editor of Analog, who suggested it. I emailed Ben Bova, who said that he heard it in a documentary on Leonardo da Vinci. It was probably The Life of Leonardo Da Vinci (1971), which aired on CBS in English in 1972. It's available on Netflix in case anybody wants to follow up on this.

KHirsch 02:11, 27 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

After a little further research, it was more likely I, Leonardo da Vinci, written by John H. Secondari (1919-1975) for the series Saga of Western Man. —KHirsch 02:58, 6 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

But no one has followed up on this since 2010? Does anyone have the means to do so? I'd sure like to see it actually cleaned up or nailed down. Ed8r 15:08, 21 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Dave English did watch The Life of Leonardo Da Vinci, and the quote wasn't in it. I checked back with Ben Bova, who remembered that Fredric March was in the one he remembered, which led me to I, Leonardo da Vinci. Unfortunately, that hasn't been issued on DVD, so it's difficult to find. If my library did interlibrary loan for videos, I could get a VHS copy, but they don't, so I can't. I presume Ben Bova is correct since his memory is precise, but I can't verify it. It would also be nice to check if the film has any source/bibliographical notes.
I, Leonardo da Vinci is on YouTube. Quite painful to watch. The phrase is at the 39:00 mark. The whole hour is voiceover as Leonardo, and unless he wrote a screenplay as yet undiscovered, the phrase was written by Jon Secondari. Great colabrative work here!
Regardless of whether the quote is actually in that movie, I'm pretty comfortable with concluding that it's a misattribution. It doesn't appear in print until 1975 and nowhere is any specific source given. His writings are not so extensive, I think, that something like this would be hard to find. Also, to judge by the sourced quotes here, da Vinci had many fantastic talents, but turning a memorable phrase just wasn't among them.
KHirsch 02:01, 24 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This quote is worded from the point of view of a person who has experienced flight, but was that the case for da Vinci? I don't know when ballooning, or gliding, were invented... -- 16:12, 27 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


So to summarize what we know, based largely on the research of KHirsch above, the quote was first used in print (and misattributed to Leonardo da Vinci) in a science fiction story published in 1975, The Storms of Windhaven. One of the authors, Lisa Tuttle, remembers that the quote was suggested by science fiction writer Ben Bova, who says he believes he got the quote from a TV documentary narrated by Fredric March, presumably I, Leonardo da Vinci, written by John H. Secondari for the series Saga of Western Man, which aired on 23 February 1965. If this is correct, then the quote may have been written by Secondari for the TV documentary, and Ben Bova incorrectly assumed that he was quoting da Vinci. Accordingly, the probable author is John Hermes Secondari (1919-1975), American author and television producer. - Embram 15:17, 28 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

However, I should mention that a 1976 edition of Contact Quarterly, a biannual journal of contemporary dance, improvisation and performance, cites Leonardo da Vinci's Codex on the Flight of Birds as the source of the quotation. I don't know where to get a translation of that Codex, but I imagine one must be available somewhere, so it can be checked. - Embram 16:15, 28 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Having searched the 'Codex on the Flight of Birds' for the quote, nothing can be found that even closely resembles it.

2:22, 9 October 2013

The codex was interpreted and displayed for the public at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum September 2013. This quote is attributed to Da Vinci here:


Attribution does not prove the authenticity of the quote. - I have access to the codex (including a transcription), and as mentioned above, the quote is not found in it. ~ 12.07, 10 November 2016

The quote is indeed found in I, Leonardo da Vinci. I saw the documentary on youtube and the quote appears about half way through.
Surely you're joking about basing your idea of the authenticity of this quote on a YouTube video.

How is Leonardo da Vinci supposed to have experienced flight? The Montgolfier balloon flight, the first manned aerial flight, was in 1783. Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519. He isn't known to have jumped off any cliffs.

17 May 2019

The notion the quote was made by Da Vinci is preposterous. The sentiment is dead on but attribute way off. I came across a reference some years ago that it was written by a minor (?) American poet (?) in the early 1920’s, whose name be lost, regarding a flight he’d taken the previous decade. I will see if I can find it again, because the idea that a daydreaming flightless bird should have written such an accurate account should be an insult to our intelligence.

3 January 2020

Da Vinci may be a wash, and the quote is confirmed in "I, Leonardo da Vinci", but the second most common attribution I can find is to Henry van Dyke who lived through the birth of powered flight. This is intriguing, because he seems obscure enough that no no one would attribute the quote to him for convenience or romanticism but instead for some basis in reality. He was prolific, however, and so far I can't find anything resembling this quote in his writings.

11 August 2020.

Article on the quote includes and expands on the information here. John H. Secondari! The Famous Quote That Da Vinci Never Said

"Poor is the pupil that does not surpass his master."[edit]

This is a legitimate quote from Codex Forster III, 66v.

It's been moved to the Leonardo da Vinci Quotes page.

Dubious quote[edit]

  • "Leonardo Da Vinci's principles of learning are: Study the art of science, study the science of art, use all your senses, and know that everything connects to everything else." has been quoted in books since the 90s. I can't find the original source, though. It sounds dubious. --Slashme (talk) 17:35, 24 September 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Not found in Leonardo's notebooks, and neither in his Treatise on Painting. A similar quote is present - Studia prima la scienza, e poi la practice bata da essa sceinza. (Libro di Pittura, 32r) - which may be the reason why the above quote has been attributed to Leonardo.

It seems to be taken from “Millennium: Towards Tomorrow's Society” by Francis Kinsman, and it’s probably fake. --Valenzine (talk) 17:33, 28 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Unverified popular meme[edit]

"Knowing is not enough..."[edit]

The article contributes "Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do." to Russell C. Taylor of the LDS Church, which can't be right.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe used this sentence a long time before that. The original: "Es ist nicht genug, zu wissen, man muß auch anwenden; es ist nicht genug, zu wollen, man muß auch tun." Source:

However: I'm eager to find out who was the first one to say this and Leonardo Da Vinci could be the real source... but the oldest reference I could find yet is Goethe.


Not a quote found anywhere in Leonardo's notebooks.

"The smallest feline is a masterpiece."[edit]

Unable to find source. – OttoMäkelä (talk) 07:55, 23 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art."[edit]

Cannot find the source for this, although it appears to be very widely requoted. -V madhu (talk) 00:47, 2 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]