Art on the BBC: The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci

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Art on the BBC: The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci


Dr Janina Ramirez presides over this pleasing documentary that burrows into the BBC archives to explore an artistic visionary. Leonardo da Vinci is traditionally the definition of “Renaissance Man”.

Painter, engineer, architect, scientist, his restless curiosity about the world around him covered almost all bases, although his ideas often ran ahead of his ability to actually finish anything (compared to his contemporaries, Raphael and Michelangelo, his completed output is minimal). But his legacy is vast, and the sheer rarity of his paintings just adds to their value – his recently attributed Salvator Mundi sold at auction last year for $450 million!

But as we scroll through a neatly edited montage of art critics crying, “Genius”, Ramirez wonders where to begin to reveal Leonardo’s story. There’s plenty of choice of experts: Kenneth Clark, of course, who described him as “utterly mysterious”; Andrew Graham-Dixon exploring what lies beneath the Mona Lisa; Fiona Bruce, Robert Hughes and many more. And we go into forensic, occasionally grisly, detail about his working methods. He’s a subject who will never fail to captivate.


Janina Ramirez explores the BBC archives to explore the work of the Renaissance artist, revealing what lies beneath the Mona Lisa and how Da Vinci acquired his anatomical knowledge.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Janina Ramirez
Director David Starkey
Executive Producer Emma Parkins
Executive Producer Ed Stobart