De Divina Proportione - Geneva Codex

De Divina Proportione - Geneva Codex – Aboca Museum – ms. Langues Etrangères 210 – Bibliothèque de Genève (Geneva, Switzerland)

Milan (Italy) — 1496–1498

The genius Leonardo da Vinci: probably the first representation of skeletal bodies and the application of the golden section to art and architecture

  1. Ludovico Sforza (1452–1508), the Duke of Milan and famous art patron, commissioned this splendid Renaissance work

  2. Printed graphics on Leonardo da Vinci's Golden Ratio and colored initials adorn the explanatory text

  3. Leonardo's drawings composed by Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli and printed by the famous Paganino de Paganini

De Divina Proportione - Geneva Codex

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
De Divina Proportione - Geneva Codex

This gorgeous manuscript of the famous treatise about the golden ratio is a precious testimonial to the cooperation of two important personalities of the Italian Renaissance: Luca Pacioli and Leonardo da Vinci. Pacioli, a famous mathematician, laid the cornerstone for this fascination with the principle of the golden ratio with his text De Divina Proportione. Additionally, Leonardo da Vinci, the greatest universal genius in history, furnished this mathematical work with fascinating and technically masterful illustrations of the polyhedron forms depicted.

De Divina Proportione

The golden ratio: this term for a mathematical principal has a magic connotation to this day. This principle had – and has – an especially great significance for art, where it is venerated with cult-like status. The equal proportions according to the golden ratio produced beauty, and during the Renaissance, this influential observation, known since antiquity both for science as well as art, was spread in particular by one work: De Divina Proportione by Luca Pacioli.

A Mathematician and Universal Genius

Luca Pacioli (ca. 1445–1514), an Italian Franciscan priest, is known to this day as a pioneering mathematician. He composed inter alia a famous mathematical textbook and is additionally considered to be a pioneer of double-entry bookkeeping. Nonetheless, his magnum opus is probably the standard reference of geometry De Divina Proportione, originating at the end of the 15th century. Pacioli worked closely with Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) since both of them were in the service of the Duke Milan in the years 1496–99. The golden ratio also had its genesis in these years.

The Divine Proportion

De Divina Proportione is a text based on the works of Euclid and other famous mathematicians like Fibonacci and Piero Della Francesca. The divine proportion was depicted with the aid of three-dimensional figures: the divine in geometry. Nonetheless, the golden proportion found its expression in the human body above all, which is considered to be the epitome of the divine proportion. This surely inspired Leonardo to undertake his own proportional studies of the human body.

The Unique Genevan Manuscript

Today, this important work survives in three manuscripts: in Milan, Geneva, and Oxford. The manuscript of the De Divina Proportione, which is housed today in the Geneva University Library in Switzerland, probably originated ca. 1497–98 in Milan. As a special feature, it contains 60 illustrations by Leonardo da Vinci. The various polyhedrons were depicted in masterful constructions, which were wonderfully colored and shaded. The geometric figures hang in their respective cartouches with a description of the illustration. Additionally, a wonderful miniature shows the scene of the manuscript being presented to Ludovico il Moro, the Duke of Milan, along with the escutcheon of the same.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
On the Divine Proportion
Über den Goldenen Schnitt
Size / Format
252 pages / 30.5 × 21.5 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
1496–1498
Language
Illustrations
23 capital letters drawn with a ruler and compass by Pacioli and 60 illustrations in woodcut after drawings by Leonardo da Vinci
Patron
Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan (1452–1508)
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
De Divina Proportione - Geneva Codex – Aboca Museum – ms. Langues Etrangères 210 – Bibliothèque de Genève (Geneva, Switzerland)
Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2009
Limited Edition: 500 copies

De Divina Proportione - Geneva Codex – Aboca Museum – ms. Langues Etrangères 210 – Bibliothèque de Genève (Geneva, Switzerland)
Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2009
Limited Edition: not limited
Facsimile Editions

#1 De Divina Proportione (Special Collections Edition)

Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2009

Publisher: Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2009
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Binding: Hand-sewn, full-leather cover (vegetable-tanned calfskin) on wood boards, embossed with brass plates and gilt bronze metal elements
Commentary: 1 volume by Piergiorgio Odifreddi, Duilio Contin and Antonio Pieretti
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)

#2 De Divina Proportione (Circulating Stacks Edition)

Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2009

Publisher: Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2009
Limited Edition: not limited
Binding: Clouth-binding, printed on regular paper.
Commentary: 1 volume by Piergiorgio Odifreddi, Duilio Contin and Antonio Pieretti
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
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