Leonardo's Notebook

Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks are amazing.

"This is to be a collection without order, drawn from many papers, which I have copied here, hoping to arrange them later each in its place, according to the subjects of which they treat."

That is how Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) in 1508 described the sketches, notes, treatises and drawings that he began collecting while at the house of Piero di Braccio Martelli in Florence.

The Leonardo Notebook now in the British Library is in Italian and written in Leonardo's famously characteristic "mirror writing" that is left-handed and moving from right to left. His mirror-image cursive was originally thought to be for secrecy, but may have been more practical since he wrotewith his left hand, it was probably easier for him to write from right to left.

It wasn't originally a bound notebook. That was done after Leonardo's death and the loose papers were of various types and sizes and came from different periods in his life.

You can flip through digital copies of 29 pages known as the Codex Arundel at

There isn't really one Leonardo Notebook, since the loose papers distributed by friends after his death have found their way into the collections of the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, the Louvre, the Biblioteca Nacional de EspaƱa, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan (which holds the twelve-volume Codex Atlanticus) and British Library in London.

The Codex Leicester is the only major scientific work of Leonardo in private hands. It is owned by Bill Gates and is displayed once a year in different cities around the world.

VITRUVIAN MAN  Photo: Luc Viatour /

No comments:

Post a Comment