I have read on many sites online, like Reddit and Goodreads, the following quote supposedly from da Vinci's notebooks:

“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

― Leonardo da Vinci

And I have even tried to find sources for the original Italian text but was a bit limited to my knowledge of Italian. However, it does seem to be quoted in documents like this one from a museum dedicated to him: https://www.leonardoagradisca.it/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/catalogo_mddleonardo_en.pdf

"Per sviluppare una mente completa studia la scienza dell'arte, studia l'arte della scienza. Sviluppa i tuoi sensi, impara soprattutto a vedere. Comprendi che tutto è connesso."

Leonardo Da Vinci

But it really seems unclear where this quote comes from even though it is attributed to da Vinci. Are there any reliable references in Italian that can be used to verify this attribution?

  • 6
    Sounds suspicious, mostly because it doesn't seem to mean anything.
    – user11643
    Commented Jun 7, 2020 at 23:48

1 Answer 1


The oldest source I see for this is the 1989 book Millennium: Towards Tomorrow's Society at page 223, with no reference given.

Older, more-credible, references say that da Vinci used the Latin phrase "saper vedere", supporting the "learn how to see" portion of the quote. For example the 1951 book Leonardo Da Vinci, an Exhibition of His Scientific Achievements says:

However , while this transformation from art to science was taking place , Leonardo did not abandon his artistic activity but merely put it to work undiminished for the benefit of his new interest. If in the beginning science was the handmaiden of art, the roles are now reversed and art becomes the handmaiden of science. Leonardo goes even further: according to him it is logical for the painter to turn scientist, for his knowledge as well as his ability to represent things is based on vision— as he calls it, "saper vedere" (to know how to see)

  • +1 thanks for the answer, I guess it is a step closer to figuring out where this quote was first attributed to da Vinci, as I am still not convinced that this was something he would have said (or said it in this way), yet for some reason it is still widely attributed to him. Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 22:34
  • 1
    As far as I can tell, saper vedere is Italian, not Latin (I don't think Latin did truncation of infinitives and the infinitive of video is videre anyway) Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 8:45

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