De Ludo Scachorum

De Ludo Scachorum – Aboca Museum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)

Italy β€” Ca. 1500

Possibly with drawings by Leonardo da Vinci: More than 100 chess problems, compiled by the mathematician Luca Pacioli

  1. Famous treatise on the game of chess by the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli (circa 1447–1517)

  2. 100+ chess problems were clarified and depicted in detailed illustrations – possibly by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

  3. Originally dedicated Isabella d’Este (1474–1539) and her husband Francesco II Gonzaga (1466–1519), Marquess of Mantua

De Ludo Scachorum

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
De Ludo Scachorum

This special publication of the famous treatise about the game of chess by the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli is a true historical treasure: an original Pacioli manuscript from ca. 1500. Over 100 chess problems were clarified on the manuscript’s 48 pages and were depicted in detailed illustrations – possibly from Pacioli’s friend and colleague Leonardo da Vinci. This treasure was rediscovered in the year 2006, making the history of this work even more interesting!

De Ludo Scachorum

Luca Pacioli (1445–1517) is one of the most famous Italian mathematicians of the Renaissance. The document De divina proportione is considered to be his magnum opus, nonetheless, Pacioli also composed numerous other important works and made breakthrough discoveries. Additionally, he was close friends with Leonardo da Vinci, whom he met in Milan while they were both working for Ludovico il Moro. Pacioli and Leonardo worked closely together henceforth. Therefore, it is not implausible that Leonardo also illustrated Pacioli’s chess treatise with a few sketches of his own.

The Fascination with the Game of Kings

The original manuscript of the treatise De Ludo Scachorum, also known as the Schifanoia, consists of a 48-page booklet measuring 11.5 x 16 cm. It can be dated to ca. 1500 and, alongside the text, contains detailed depictions of chessboards with red and black figures. A total of 117 games are described in this way, sometimes in the new a la rabiosa technique. As a passionate chess player, Pacioli was enchanted by this extremely complex, mathematically logical game, depicting here the solution and explanation for various chess problems and positions.

A Precious Original

This treasure, which can be found today stored under the shelf mark ms. 7955 in the Archivio Crononini Cronberg in Italy, can look back on an eventful provenance. The document was originally dedicated to the important Margravine of Mantua Isabella d’Este and her husband Gianfrancesco Gonzaga. Mentioned by the author in his own writings, the famous manuscript fell into obscurity and was first rediscovered in 2006 at its modern repository. Count Guglielmo Coronini previously acquired the manuscript in Venice in 1963.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
On the Game of Chess
Schifanoia
Über das Schachspiel
De Ludo Scacorum
Size / Format
48 pages / 16.0 Γ— 11.5 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
Ca. 1500
Language
Illustrations
Over 100 educational positions and chess problems, drawn in red and black
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
De Ludo Scachorum – Aboca Museum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2007
Limited Edition: 999 copies

De Ludo Scachorum – Aboca Museum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2007
Limited Edition: not limited
Detail Picture

De Ludo Scachorum

Checkmate

Outnumbered and backed into a corner, the black king is facing certain defeat. Supported either by bishops or knights (the symbols for each are nearly impossible to discern from one another), the two red rooks have cut off the black king’s routes of escape – his only move now is to concede defeat. Potential moves are identified with the lowercase initials β€œa”, β€œb”, and β€œc”. As we see here, the miniatures of this manuscript are clear, practical, and stripped of artistic embellishment.

De Ludo Scachorum – Aboca Museum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
Single Page

De Ludo Scachorum

Opening Moves

Pacioli’s various chess problems are presented in this manner: a simple grid with red and black pieces. The grid is perfect, obviously made with the help of a table square, and contrasts with sloppily-written commentary in the upper and lower margins that has been crossed out for an inexplicable reason. Here we see the beginning of a game.

The shape of the pawns is immediately familiar, as is the queen, but the rest are not. It takes a discerning eye to differentiate between the rooks, knights, and bishops. Various opening moves are identified with red letters in the field between the opposing sides in this simple, clear, and instructive diagram.

De Ludo Scachorum – Aboca Museum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
Facsimile Editions

#1 De Ludo Scachorum (Special Collection Edition)

Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2007

Publisher: Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2007
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Binding: Hand-colored goatskin embossed with friezes
Commentary: 1 volume (280 pages) by Diego D'Elia, Duilio Contin, Attilio Bartoli Langeli, Enzo Mattesini, and Alessandro Sanvito
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: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)

#2 De Ludo Scachorum (Circulating Stacks Edition)

Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2007
De Ludo Scachorum – Aboca Museum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)
De Ludo Scachorum – Aboca Museum – ms. 7955 – Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Aboca Museum – Sansepolcro, 2007
Limited Edition: not limited
Binding: Artificial leather embossed like the original
Commentary: 1 volume (280 pages) by Diego D'Elia, Duilio Contin, Attilio Bartoli Langeli, Enzo Mattesini, and Alessandro Sanvito
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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