Discovered accidentally in 1967: two Leonardo da Vinci sketchbooks covering a variety of topics

Madrid Codices

Italy — 1490–1505

Madrid Codices

Madrid Codices

Italy — 1490–1505

  1. Two-volume collection of pages, notes, sketches, and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

  2. Painting, geography, mechanics, mathematics, geometry, weapons, and architecture are depicted therein

  3. The American Professor of Romance Studies, Jules Piccus, coincidentally discovered them in February of 1967

Madrid Codices

Alternative Titles:
  • I Codici di Madrid
  • Manuscritos Leonardo da Vinci - Codex Madrid
  • Codex Madrid I (Ms. 8937) “Tratado de estática y mecánica”
  • Codex Madrid II (Ms. 8936) “Tratado de fortificación, estática y geometría”
  • Madrider Codizes
Madrid Codices – 8936 and 8937 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Madrid Codices are a two-volume collection of pages, notes, sketches, and drawings by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. The works originated between 1490 and 1505. The precious manuscripts show some sketches and designs, which significantly influenced the architecture and technology of our time.

Madrid Codices

“Read me, reader, if it pleases you, for I rarely return to this world.” With this sentence ends the first volume of the so-called Madrid Codices by Leonardo da Vinci. The greatest artist and scholar of the Renaissance composed two codices, which treated the entire spectrum of his interests. The manuscripts concerned themselves with painting, geography, mechanics, mathematics, geometry, weapons technology, and architecture. The first volume of the manuscript contains 384 pages and the second 316 pages. The pages show a number of notes, sketches, and drawings by the great Renaissance artist.

A Treasure of the Spanish National Library

Both manuscripts by Da Vinci get their name from the location where they are housed today. After Da Vinci’s death, his student Francesco Melzi inherited the valuable document. This he in turn left to his son Orazio, who sold it to the wealthy sculptor Pompeo Leoni ca. 1590. The path of the volumes into the possession of the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid is still unclear. Although it was known since the 19th century that the codices were in Madrid, they remained undiscoverable until the end of the 1960’s. The American Professor of Romance Studies, Jules Piccus, uncovered both of the precious manuscripts by a lucky coincidence while conducting literary research in the Spanish National Library in February of 1967.

A Glimpse into the Conceptual World of Da Vinci

The first Madrid Codex is dated in the time period from 1490–99, the second from ca. 1503-05. Leonardo composed the text in his characteristic mirror writing and was furnished with numerous depictions and sketches. Found among these is also the design of the bridge for the crossing of the Golden Horn, a bay at the Bosporus in Turkey. In the Norwegian locality of Ås, the Leonardo-Da-Vinci-Bridge was erected in the year 2001 as a footbridge. Another drawing shows the draft of a gearbox. The engineer and Da Vinci expert Roberto Guatelli presumes that is a detailed design of a counting mechanism. Therefore, it is probably dealing with the first calculator in world history.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
I Codici di Madrid
Manuscritos Leonardo da Vinci - Codex Madrid
Codex Madrid I (Ms. 8937) “Tratado de estática y mecánica”
Codex Madrid II (Ms. 8936) “Tratado de fortificación, estática y geometría”
Madrider Codizes
Size / Format
2 volumes: Codex Madrid I: 384 pages Codex Madrid II: 316 pages / 21.0 x 15.0 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
1490–1505
Language
Artist / School

2 available facsimile edition(s) of „Madrid Codices“

I Codici di Madrid
Madrid Codices – 8936 and 8937 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
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I Codici di Madrid

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Giunti Editore – Florence, 1974
Limited Edition
1000 copies
Binding
Leather-covered slip-case (size 168 x 254 x 218 mm) containing five hand-bound leather volumes for a total of 1026 pages, with gold tooling on the spine.
Commentary
1 volume (154 pages) by Ladislao Reti
Language: Italian
More Information
Volumes I and II: facsimile reproductions of the two Madrid Codices: volume I, 382 plates; volume II, 316 plates. Volume III: Introduction, the History of the Madrid Manuscripts and Notes edited by Ladislao Reti, with Indexes and Glossary, 154 pages. Volumes IV and V: unabridged transcriptions annotated by Ladislao Reti, opposite are photographic reproductions and enlargements of details: volume IV, 536 pages; volume V, 336 pages.
Price Category: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
Edition available
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Manuscritos Leonardo da Vinci - Codex Madrid
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Manuscritos Leonardo da Vinci - Codex Madrid

3 volumes: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
CM Editores – Salamanca
Binding
Red leather
Commentary
2 volumes
Language: Spanish
More Information
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.
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