I love reading about artists and novels about Leonardo da Vinci is no exception. Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who was active as a painter, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor and architect. It is impossible not to be in awe of this genius and reading and learning more about him and the people around him is always fun.
This list of novels about Leonardo da Vinci is a mixed bag; there are thrillers as well as historical romances. And because they are novels about Leonardo da Vinci, almost every one of them is set in Italy, a city I love to read about. I hope you can find a story to your liking. If you like reading about art in general, you may like this as well: Books About Art & Artists. Enjoy!
Novels About Leonardo da Vinci
Oil and Marble – Stephanie Storey
One of the best novels About Leonardo da Vinci. In her brilliant debut, Storey brings early 16th-century Florence alive, entering with extraordinary empathy into the minds and souls of two Renaissance masters, creating a stunning art history thriller. From 1501 to 1505, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti both lived and worked in Florence. Leonardo was a charming, handsome fifty year-old at the peak of his career. Michelangelo was a temperamental sculptor in his mid-twenties, desperate to make a name for himself.
Michelangelo is a virtual unknown when he returns to Florence and wins the commission to carve what will become one of the most famous sculptures of all time: David. Even though his impoverished family shuns him for being an artist, he is desperate to support them. Living at the foot of his misshapen block of marble, Michelangelo struggles until the stone finally begins to speak. Working against an impossible deadline, he begins his feverish carving.
Meanwhile, Leonardo’s life is falling apart: he loses the hoped-for David commission; he can’t seem to finish any project; he is obsessed with his ungainly flying machine; he almost dies in war; his engineering designs disastrously fail; and he is haunted by a woman he has seen in the market–a merchant’s wife, whom he is finally commissioned to paint. Her name is Lisa, and she becomes his muse.
Leonardo despises Michelangelo for his youth and lack of sophistication. Michelangelo both loathes and worships Leonardo’s genius.
Oil and Marble is the story of their nearly forgotten rivalry. A gem among novels About Leonardo da Vinci.
Leonardo’s Swans – Karen Essex
A romantic historical fiction among novels about Leonardo da Vinci. Isabella d’Este, daughter of the Duke of Ferrara, born into privilege and the political and artistic turbulence of Renaissance Italy, is a stunning black-eyed blonde and a precocious lover and collector of art. Worldly and ambitious, she has never envied her less attractive sister, the spirited but naive Beatrice, until, by a quirk of fate, Beatrice is betrothed to the future Duke of Milan.
Although he is more than twice their age, openly lives with his mistress, and is reputedly trying to eliminate the current duke by nefarious means, Ludovico Sforza is Isabella’s match in intellect and passion for all things of beauty. Only he would allow her to fulfill her destiny: to reign over one of the world’s most powerful and enlightened realms and be immortalized in oil by the genius Leonardo da Vinci.
Though Isabella weds the Marquis of Mantua, a man she has loved since childhood, Beatrice’s fortunes rise effortlessly through her marriage to Ludovico. The two sisters compete for supremacy in the illustrious courts of Europe, and Isabella vows that she will not rest until she wrestles back her true fate and plays temptress to the sensuous Ludovico and muse to the great Leonardo. But when Ludovico’s grand plan to control Europe begins to crumble, immortality through art becomes a luxury, and the two sisters must choose between familial loyalty and survival in the treacherous political climate. An interesting read among novels about Leonardo da Vinci.
Portrait Of A Conspiracy – Donna Russo Morin
An intense historical mystery among novels about Leonardo da Vinci. In 15th century Florence, five women and a legendary artist weave together a dangerous plot that could bring peace – or get them all killed.
Seeking to wrest power from the Medici, members of the Pazzi family slay the beloved Giuliano. But Lorenzo de’ Medici survives the attack and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into murderous chaos. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe.
Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing and is rumored to have stolen a much sought-after painting before she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend.
They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era: the peaceful and kind Leonardo da Vinci. It is under his tutelage that they flourish as artists and with his access that they infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unravelling one conspiracy as they build another in its place. The first book of a series among novels about Leonardo da Vinci.
The Malice of Fortune – Michael Ennis
Welcome to the Devil’s house.
A nest of vipers dwells within.
And a trail of blood leads to the Borgia Palace …
Against a teeming canvas of Borgia politics, Niccolò Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci come together to unmask a serial killer. Through a labyrinth of ancient superstition and erotic obsession they discover an evil and terrible secret – one that still lies buried in the lines of Machiavelli’s greatest work, The Prince. A mystery thriller among novels about Leonardo da Vinci.
I, Mona Lisa – Jeanne Kalogridis
***”My name is Lisa di Antonio Gherardini Giocondo, though to acquaintances, I am known simply as Madonna Lisa. My story begins not with my birth but a murder, committed the year before I was born…”***
**Florence****, April 1478:** The handsome Giuliano de’ Medici is brutally assassinated in Florence’s magnificent Duomo. The shock of the murder ripples throughout the great city, from the most renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to a wealthy wool merchant and his extraordinarily beautiful daughter, Madonna Lisa.
More than a decade later, Florence falls under the dark spell of the preacher Savonarola, a fanatic who burns paintings and books as easily as he sends men to their deaths. Lisa, now grown into an alluring woman, captures the heart of Giuliano’s nephew and namesake. But when Guiliano, her love, meets a tragic end, Lisa must gather all her courage and cunning to untangle a sinister web of illicit love, treachery, and dangerous secrets that threatens her life.
Set against the drama of 15th Century Florence, *I, Mona Lisa* is painted in many layers of fact and fiction, with each intricately drawn twist told through the captivating voice of Mona Lisa herself. For the fans of serious historical fiction novels about Leonardo da Vinci.
Signora Da Vinci – Robin Maxwell
Novelist Robin Maxwell delves into the life of Caterina–the adventurer, alchemist, and mother of Leonardo da Vinci.
Caterina was fifteen years old in 1452 when she bore an illegitimate child in the tiny village of Vinci. His name was Leonardo, and he was destined to change the world forever.
Caterina suffered much cruelty as an unmarried mother and had no recourse when her boy was taken away from her. But no one knew the secrets of her own childhood, nor could ever have imagined the dangerous and heretical scheme she would devise to protect and watch over her remarkable son. This is her story. A different story among novels about Leonardo da Vinci.
Da Vinci’s Tiger – L.M. Elliott
The young and beautiful daughter of a wealthy family, Ginevra longs to share her poetry and participate in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence but is trapped in an arranged marriage in a society dictated by men. The arrival of the charismatic Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers.
Bembo chooses Ginevra as his Platonic muse and commissions a portrait of her by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires an intimate connection between them, one Ginevra only begins to understand. In a rich and vivid world of exquisite art with a dangerous underbelly of deadly political feuds, Ginevra faces many challenges to discover her voice and artistic companionship—and to find love. One with a feminist twist among novels about Leonardo da Vinci.
The Night Portrait – Laura Morelli
Milan, 1492: When a 16-year old beauty becomes the mistress of the Duke of Milan, she must fight for her place in the palace—and against those who want her out. Soon, she finds herself sitting before Leonardo da Vinci, who wants to ensure his own place in the ducal palace by painting his most ambitious portrait to date.
Munich, World War II: After a modest conservator unwittingly places a priceless Italian Renaissance portrait into the hands of a high-ranking Nazi leader, she risks her life to recover it, working with an American soldier, part of the famed Monuments Men team, to get it back.
Two women, separated by 500 years, are swept up in the tide of history as one painting stands at the center of their quests for their own destinies. A gem among novels about Leonardo da Vinci.
The Queen’s Gambit – Diane A. S. Stuckart
For the fans of cosy mysteries among novels about Leonardo da Vinci. On a royal whim, Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, orders a living chess game to be enacted by members of his own court. Court Engineer Leonardo da Vinci conjures the spectacle in a single night, but his latest success turns bitter when one of the “pieces”-the Duke’s ambassador to France-is murdered.
Given the brutal climate of court politics, even the Duke’s closest advisors are suspect. As an outsider, Leonardo is the only man Sforza can trust to conduct the investigation. With his scrupulous eye for detail, and young apprentice Dino gathering information unnoticed, Leonardo uncovers a vile nest of secrets-while danger, like an ill humor, rises to the surface.
But the most surprising secret of all may be the true identity of his most talented, most trusted apprentice. A mystery thriller among novels about Leonardo da Vinci.
The Madonna of the Almonds – Marina Fiorato
Young widow Simonetta tries to rebuild her family in 16th century Saronno, Lombardy. In pursuit of a means to keep her estate together, she stumbles upon a new drink made by infusing almonds into alcohol. At the same time, she encounters the talented Bernardino, the protege of Leonardo da Vinci. For the fans of parallel stories among novels about Leonardo da Vinci.
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Are there any novels about Leonardo da Vinci you’d like to add to this list? Would you please share in the comments section below?