I came upon this quote on p.51 of National Geographic's Sublime Nature: Photographs That Awe and Inspire.

  1. I don't think da Vinci wrote in English, but what's this source? Wikiquote disputes it.

  2. What does this quote mean exactly? Does it just mean less is more?

  • @DanielRHicks: Last reminder: Use the answer box for answers.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 2, 2021 at 7:39
  • Probably not the place to ask what it means, since what the (alleged) author intended and the myriad of possible interpretations gets a bit speculative and broad respectively. You could try English Language & Usage for that. Jan 2, 2021 at 8:15
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    @Oddthinking - How is "Move your question to Philosophy" an "answer"? Jan 2, 2021 at 13:37
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    @DanielRHicks: Oh, that was your comment on the other similar question by the OP. That was a legitimate comment and the only reason I deleted it was because I edited out the offtopic parts of the question so it wasn't relevant any more.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 2, 2021 at 17:19
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    Sounds more like something Giorgio Armani would say. Seriously though, if anyone looks at da Vinci's sketches, and his botanical drawings, "simplicity" would be the last adjective that would spring to mind.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 5, 2021 at 6:38

1 Answer 1


I found a possible origin here: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/04/02/simple/#:~:text=Dear%20Quote%20Investigator%3A%20The%20following,Simplicity%20is%20the%20ultimate%20sophistication.


The earliest citation is from "Clare Boothe Luce", playwrighter who became one of the first female U.S. Ambassadors. In 1931 she published a novel titled “Stuffed Shirts” which contained the following passage.

Yes,” continued Mrs. Gunn, patting Lucile’s hand condescendingly. “I have resolved to grow old, naturally and gracefully, content in the knowledge that the greatest intellects are the homeliest ones, and that the height of sophistication is simplicity.

The most famous is from 1977, when the Apple Computer Company created a brochure for its new product the Apple II personal computer stating:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

while then in 2000 a multi-page advertisement from a liquor company appeared in a magazine, stating

the advice of Leonardo da Vinci who wrote: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

“Not every quote you read on the Internet is true.” – Abraham Lincoln

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    So, the attribution to Leonardo only goes back to 2000? If so, then Lincoln was right about this quote!
    – GEdgar
    Jan 4, 2021 at 16:52
  • Well, someone must have read the 2000 mirrored-pages Leonardo left us, so I am waiting and I would be happy to be proven wrong.
    – EarlGrey
    Jan 4, 2021 at 21:59

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