Leonardo: The Artist and the Man

by Serge Bramly, translated by Sian Reynolds

Available from Penguin Books

In the nearly 500 years since his death, Leonardo da Vinci has been vested with an almost mythical stature - the Universal Man who personified the flowering of human achievement known as the Renaissance. But despite the universality of his reputation the painter of the Mona Lisa has remained as elusive as his sitter's identity.

With the aid of Leonardo's own notebooks, together with accounts by contemporaries, Serge Bramly has produced a comprehensive portrait of the life, work and times of the artist. What emerges is a complex and charismatic human being - insecure about his place in society, ambiguous in his sexuality, fond of puns and practical jokes, and, ultimately, agonized in old age by the little time left to him to unlock the mysteries of the world.

Serge Bramly is a Tunisian born French-language writer and essayist.