FACT CHECK: Did Da Vinci Say, ‘I Awoke, Only To Find That The Rest Of The World Was Still Asleep’?

Trevor Schakohl | Legal Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims that Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci said, “I awoke, only to find that the rest of the world was still asleep.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that da Vinci authored this saying. It may be a version of a statement written about him by Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud.

Fact Check:

An artist, scientist and inventor, da Vinci was one of the most celebrated figures of the Italian Renaissance period. His best known paintings include the “Mona Lisa,” the “Last Supper” and “Lady with an Ermine.”

Though da Vinci took thousands of pages of notes over the course of his career, there is no reason to believe he authored the quote attributed to him in the Facebook post. The statement appears nowhere in his writings.

“About 80% of the Leo ‘quotes’ on the internet are not by him. This is not amongst the 20%,” Trinity College art historian and da Vinci expert Martin Kemp told The Daily Caller in an email.

The quote appears to be a version of a comment made about da Vinci in Freud’s 1910 essay “Leonardo da Vinci: A Memory of His Childhood.”

“In Merezhkovsky’s admirable simile, he was like a man who had awoken too early in the darkness, while everyone else was still asleep,” Freud wrote, crediting Russian author Dmitry Merezhkovsky with the imagery.

Trevor Schakohl

Legal Reporter
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