Jonathan Jones | The Visions of Leonardo Da Vinci | 4 March 2010 | 6.30 pm

Leonardo da Vinci is equally famous for his inventions and his art. This can lead to the illusion that he resembled a modern scientist—a technocratic rationalist. He was nothing of the sort. The insights and leaps of intuition that characterise his thought are often pre-rational and, in a word, ‘visionary’. He had something in common with Blake. He also had something in common with cave painters and nomadic hunter-gatherers who paint animals while in a trance.

Leonardo advised painters to get ideas by staring at walls until they could see faces, landscapes and battles: evidently this was his technique and you can see the process happen in many of his incredible drawings. This talk will explore Leonardo the shaman, who believed his genius came to him when a bird visited him as a baby in the cradle.

Jonathan Jones writes for The Guardian. His book The Lost Battles: Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Artistic Duel that Defined the Renaissance is published by Simon and Schuster this April.

This lecture is being staged as part of Swedenborg House: Fourteen Interventions, an exhibition curated in conjunction with the Swedenborg Society’s 200th anniversary celebrations.