Category Archives: Leonardo da Vinci

Saper vedere

Saper Vedere – Learning to see


Assumptions are the termites of knowledge and the death of learning.


Leonardo’s eyes

Saper Vedere, Leonardo da Vinci’s phrase is translated as “to know how to see.”

Leonard would be shocked at such a hasty assumption. Knowledge is something arrived at over years, after a careful course of study. And even then it must be applied to the context of the study, the history of the times and the meaning of the author.

“Learning how to see” seems more apropos of the phrase and closer to Leonardo’s intent.

I would not be so presumptuous as to believe I could see as Leonardo. His was a gift. An ability to perceive without assumption. To see and to learn something that others failed to see. Something we still are looking for in Mona Lisa’s eyes and in her smile.

Mona Lisa’s eyes

Five hundred years later, Camille Pissarro put it beautifully:

Heureux ceux qui voient de belles choses dans les endroits modestes où d’autres ne voient rien.

Camille Pissarro 1893

Blessed are they who see beauty in life’s little things  where others see nothing.


Quite nice, don’t you think?

Then again I have also seen Pissarro’s phrase begin with:

“Bienes soit ceux-la…”

Happy or blessed, is there a difference?

Words, words, words, what do they mean? Perhaps only Mona Lisa knows and she is not speaking, and rightly finds it quite amusing.