Codex Arundel

Codex Arundel

Italy — 1478–1518

Submarines, musical gemstones, astronomy: the largest of Leonardo da Vinci's famous notebooks

  1. The largest collection of leaves from the hand of the greatest polymath in history, Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

  2. His plans for a submarine, notes on a sea monster, musical instruments, optics, astronomy, physics, and more

  3. The highly coveted bundle had a mysterious ownership history before coming to the British Museum

Codex Arundel

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Codex Arundel

The Codex Arundel is a true treasure chest for research concerning Leonardo da Vinci. The Codex Arundel is the largest collection of Leonardo leaves that has been assembled. Named after Lord Arundel, who acquired the manuscript in the 17th century, the bundle of documents from the year 1508 until his death is comprised of notes and records about art, science, and engineering.

Codex Arundel

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) is considered to be the greatest universal genius in history. He not only left behind an unbelievable body of artistic work, but also an enormous quantity of manuscripts, in which he wrote his spontaneous thoughts, the foundations for his artistic and scientific creations, and notes about his research. These documents, notebooks or compiled single leaves, give a fascinating glimpse into Leonardo’s idea world, and this is also true of the Codex Arundel.

The Life’s Work of a Universal Genius

The Codex Arundel consists of 312 facsimiled pages on 156 sheets of pasteboard. The individual sheets from his estate were first assembled after Leonardo’s death. Originally, the collection was a bundle of lose pages in various formats. The earliest part begins with March 15th, 1508, the remaining content consists of pieces of writing from various epochs in Leonardo’s life and thereby gives a wonderful overview of Leonardo’s work as a whole.

The Noble Eponym

The Codex Arundel, which is stored today in the British museum in London, is named after one of its owners. The codex is wrapped in its mysterious provenance. What happened to leaves after Leonardo’s death and who compiled them into a codex is not known. Ca. 1630, the bundle was acquired by Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (1586–1646), an important art collector who was well travelled. He presumably acquired the gem in Italy.

Opera, Submarines, and Sea Monsters

The Codex Arundel offers a comprehensive look into the written legacy of Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo’s passion for the exploration of art, science, and engineering is made impressively apparent through the variety of notes. Be they technical drawings of mechanical equipment and operations, designs for a submarine, notes about a sea monster, a mysterious cave, or the employment of musical instruments and theater** (e.g. for the premier of Agnolo Poliziano’s Orpheus) – optics, astronomy, mathematics, and physics are just some of the themes addressed here.


Alternative Titles
Il Codice Arundel
Size / Format
566 pages / 29.0 × 20.5 cm
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (1586–1646)

Available facsimile editions:
Codex Arundel – Arundel ms 263 – British Museum (London, United Kingdom)
Giunti Editore – Florence, 1999
Limited Edition: 998 copies
Facsimile Editions

#1 Il Codice Arundel

Giunti Editore – Florence, 1999

Publisher: Giunti Editore – Florence, 1999
Limited Edition: 998 copies
Binding: Dark Brown Leather
Commentary: 1 volume (480 pages) by Carlo Pedretti and Carlo Vecce
Language: Italian
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding. Two volumes (488 x 340 x 70 mm), leather with gold tooling on the spine Volume I: 480 pages with notes and illustrations from Leonardo's own hand; introduction, commentary, index and more by Carlo Pedretti and Carlo Vecce Volume II: 156 loose sheets on white backgrounds, 312 facsimiles total
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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