Notebook Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci Notebook

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, Complete
by Leonardo Da Vinci
(#3 in our series by Leonardo Da Vinci)

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing
this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.

This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project
Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do not change or edit the
header without written permission.

Please read the “legal small print,” and other information about the
eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included is
important information about your specific rights and restrictions in
how the file may be used. You can also find out about how to make a
donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.

Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts

eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971

*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****

Title: The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, Complete

Author: Leonardo Da Vinci

Release Date: Jan, 2004 [EBook #5000]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on April 10, 2002]

Edition: 09

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Leonardo da Vinci Notebook



How by a certain machine many may stay some time under water. And
how and wherefore I do not describe my method of remaining under
water and how long I can remain without eating. And I do not publish
nor divulge these, by reason of the evil nature of men, who would
use them for assassinations at the bottom of the sea by destroying
ships, and sinking them, together with the men in them. Nevertheless
I will impart others, which are not dangerous because the mouth of
the tube through which you breathe is above the water, supported on
air sacks or cork.

[Footnote: The leaf on which this passage is written, is headed with
the words Casi 39, and most of these cases begin with the word
Come‘, like the two here given, which are the 26th and 27th. 7.
Sughero. In the Codex Antlanticus 377a; 1170a there is a sketch,
drawn with the pen, representing a man with a tube in his mouth, and
at the farther end of the tube a disk. By the tube the word
Channa‘ is written, and by the disk the word ‘sughero‘.]

The preparation of the MSS. for publication.


When you put together the science of the motions of water, remember
to include under each proposition its application and use, in order
that this science may not be useless.–

[Footnote: A comparatively small portion of Leonardo’s notes on
water-power was published at Bologna in 1828, under the title: “Del
moto e misura dell’Acqua, di L. da Vinci

Admonition to readers.


Let no man who is not a Mathematician read the elements of my work.

The disorder in the MSS.


Begun at Florence, in the house of Piero di Braccio Martelli, on the
22nd day of March 1508. And this is to be a collection without
order, taken from many papers which I have copied here, hoping to
arrange them later each in its place, according to the subjects of
which they may treat. But I believe that before I am at the end of
this [task] I shall have to repeat the same things several times;
for which, O reader! do not blame me, for the subjects are many and
memory cannot retain them [all] and say: ‘I will not write this
because I wrote it before.’ And if I wished to avoid falling into
this fault, it would be necessary in every case when I wanted to
copy [a passage] that, not to repeat myself, I should read over all
that had gone before; and all the more since the intervals are long
between one time of writing and the next.

[Footnote: 1. In the history of Florence in the early part of the
XVIth century Piero di Braccio Martelli is frequently mentioned as
Commissario della Signoria. He was famous for his learning and at
his death left four books on Mathematics ready for the press; comp.
LITTA, Famiglie celebri Italiane, Famiglia Martelli di
.–In the Official Catalogue of MSS. in the Brit. Mus., New
Series Vol. I., where this passage is printed, Barto has been
wrongly given for Braccio.

  1. addi 22 di marzo 1508. The Christian era was computed in
    Florence at that time from the Incarnation (Lady day, March 25th).
    Hence this should be 1509 by our reckoning.

  2. racolto tratto di molte carte le quali io ho qui copiate. We
    must suppose that Leonardo means that he has copied out his own MSS.
    and not those of others. The first thirteen leaves of the MS. in the
    Brit. Mus. are a fair copy of some notes on physics.]

Suggestions for the arrangement of MSS treating of particular


Of digging a canal. Put this in the Book of useful inventions and in
proving them bring forward the propositions already proved. And this
is the proper order; since if you wished to show the usefulness of
any plan you would be obliged again to devise new machines to prove
its utility and thus would confuse the order of the forty Books and
also the order of the diagrams; that is to say you would have to mix
up practice with theory, which would produce a confused and
incoherent work.


I am not to blame for putting forward, in the course of my work on
science, any general rule derived from a previous conclusion.


The Book of the science of Mechanics must precede the Book of useful
inventions.–Have your books on anatomy bound! [Footnote: 4. The
numerous notes on anatomy written on loose leaves and now in the
Royal collection at Windsor can best be classified in four Books,
corresponding to the different character and size of the paper. When
Leonardo speaks of ‘li tua libri di notomia‘, he probably means
the MSS. which still exist; if this hypothesis is correct the
present condition of these leaves might seem to prove that he only
carried out his purpose with one of the Books on anatomy. A borrowed
book on Anatomy is mentioned in F.O.]


The order of your book must proceed on this plan: first simple
beams, then (those) supported from below, then suspended in part,
then wholly [suspended]. Then beams as supporting other weights
[Footnote: 4. Leonardo’s notes on Mechanics are extraordinarily
numerous; but, for the reasons assigned in my introduction, they
have not been included in the present work.].

General introductions to the book on Painting (9-13).



Seeing that I can find no subject specially useful or
pleasing–since the men who have come before me have taken for their
own every useful or necessary theme–I must do like one who, being
poor, comes last to the fair, and can find no other way of providing
himself than by taking all the things already seen by other buyers,
and not taken but refused by reason of their lesser value. I, then,
will load my humble pack with this despised and rejected
merchandise, the refuse of so many buyers; and will go about to
distribute it, not indeed in great cities, but in the poorer towns,
taking such a price as the wares I offer may be worth. [Footnote: It
need hardly be pointed out that there is in this ‘Proemio’ a covert
irony. In the second and third prefaces, Leonardo characterises his
rivals and opponents more closely. His protest is directed against
Neo-latinism as professed by most of the humanists of his time; its
futility is now no longer questioned.]



I know that many will call this useless work [Footnote: 3. questa
essere opera inutile. By opera we must here understand libro di
pittura and particularly the treatise on Perspective.]; and they
will be those of whom Demetrius [Footnote: 4. Demetrio. “With regard
to the passage attributed to Demetrius”, Dr. H. MÜLLER STRÜBING
writes, “I know not what to make of it. It is certainly not
Demetrius Phalereus that is meant and it can hardly be Demetrius
Poliorcetes. Who then can it be–for the name is a very common one?
It may be a clerical error for Demades and the maxim is quite in the
spirit of his writings I have not however been able to find any
corresponding passage either in the ‘Fragments’ (C. MULLER, Orat.
, II. 441) nor in the Supplements collected by DIETZ (Rhein.
, vol. 29, p. 108).”

The same passage occurs as a simple Memorandum in the MS. Tr. 57,
apparently as a note for this ‘Proemio‘ thus affording some data
as to the time where these introductions were written.] declared
that he took no more account of the wind that came out their mouth
in words, than of that they expelled from their lower parts: men who
desire nothing but material riches and are absolutely devoid of that
of wisdom, which is the food and the only true riches of the mind.
For so much more worthy as the soul is than the body, so much more
noble are the possessions of the soul than those of the body. And
often, when I see one of these men take this work in his hand, I
wonder that he does not put it to his nose, like a monkey, or ask me
if it is something good to eat.

[Footnote: In the original, the Proemio dì prospettiva cioè
dell’uffitio dell’occhio (see No. 21) stands between this and the
preceding one, No. 9.]


I am fully concious that, not being a literary man, certain
presumptuous persons will think that they may reasonably blame me;
alleging that I am not a man of letters. Foolish folks! do they not
know that I might retort as Marius did to the Roman Patricians
[Footnote 21: Come Mario disse ai patriti Romani. “I am unable to
find the words here attributed by Leonardo to Marius, either in
Plutarch’s Life of Marius or in the Apophthegmata (Moralia,
p.202). Nor do they occur in the writings of Valerius Maximus (who
frequently mentions Marius) nor in Velleius Paterculus (II, 11 to
43), Dio Cassius, Aulus Gellius, or Macrobius. Professor E.
MENDELSON of Dorpat, the editor of Herodian, assures me that no such
passage is the found in that author” (communication from Dr. MULLER
STRUBING). Leonardo evidently meant to allude to some well known
incident in Roman history and the mention of Marius is the result
probably of some confusion. We may perhaps read, for Marius,
Menenius Agrippa, though in that case it is true we must alter
Patriti to Plebei. The change is a serious one. but it would render
the passage perfectly clear.] by saying: That they, who deck
themselves out in the labours of others will not allow me my own.
They will say that I, having no literary skill, cannot properly
express that which I desire to treat of [Footnote 26: le mie cose
…. che d’altra parola
. This can hardly be reconciled with Mons.
RAVAISSON’S estimate of L. da Vinci’s learning. “Leonard de Vinci
etait un admirateur et un disciple des anciens, aussi bien dans
l’art que dans la science et il tenait a passer pour tel meme aux
yeux de la posterite.
” _Gaz. des Beaux arts. Oct. 1877.]; but they
do not know that my subjects are to be dealt with by experience
rather than by words [Footnote 28: See Footnote 26]; and
[experience] has been the mistress of those who wrote well. And so,
as mistress, I will cite her in all cases.


Though I may not, like them, be able to quote other authors, I shall
rely on that which is much greater and more worthy:–on experience,
the mistress of their Masters. They go about puffed up and pompous,
dressed and decorated with [the fruits], not of their own labours,
but of those of others. And they will not allow me my own. They will
scorn me as an inventor; but how much more might they–who are not
inventors but vaunters and declaimers of the works of others–be


And those men who are inventors and interpreters between Nature and
Man, as compared with boasters and declaimers of the works of
others, must be regarded and not otherwise esteemed than as the
object in front of a mirror, when compared with its image seen in
the mirror. For the first is something in itself, and the other
nothingness.–Folks little indebted to Nature, since it is only by
chance that they wear the human form and without it I might class
them with the herds of beasts.


Many will think they may reasonably blame me by alleging that my
proofs are opposed to the authority of certain men held in the
highest reverence by their inexperienced judgments; not considering
that my works are the issue of pure and simple experience, who is
the one true mistress. These rules are sufficient to enable you to
know the true from the false–and this aids men to look only for
things that are possible and with due moderation–and not to wrap
yourself in ignorance, a thing which can have no good result, so
that in despair you would give yourself up to melancholy.


Among all the studies of natural causes and reasons Light chiefly
delights the beholder; and among the great features of Mathematics
the certainty of its demonstrations is what preeminently (tends to)
elevate the mind of the investigator. Perspective, therefore, must
be preferred to all the discourses and systems of human learning. In
this branch [of science] the beam of light is explained on those
methods of demonstration which form the glory not so much of
Mathematics as of Physics and are graced with the flowers of both
[Footnote: 5. Such of Leonardo’s notes on Optics or on Perspective
as bear exclusively on Mathematics or Physics could not be included
in the arrangement of the libro di pittura which is here presented
to the reader. They are however but few.]. But its axioms being laid
down at great length, I shall abridge them to a conclusive brevity,
arranging them on the method both of their natural order and of
mathematical demonstration; sometimes by deduction of the effects
from the causes, and sometimes arguing the causes from the effects;
adding also to my own conclusions some which, though not included in
them, may nevertheless be inferred from them. Thus, if the Lord–who
is the light of all things–vouchsafe to enlighten me, I will treat
of Light; wherefore I will divide the present work into 3 Parts
[Footnote: 10. In the middle ages–for instance, by ROGER BACON, by
VITELLONE, with whose works Leonardo was certainly familiar, and by
all the writers of the Renaissance Perspective and Optics were not
regarded as distinct sciences. Perspective, indeed, is in its widest
application the science of seeing. Although to Leonardo the two
sciences were clearly separate, it is not so as to their names; thus
we find axioms in Optics under the heading Perspective. According to
this arrangement of the materials for the theoretical portion of the
libro di pittura propositions in Perspective and in Optics stand
side by side or occur alternately. Although this particular chapter
deals only with Optics, it is not improbable that the words partirò
la presente opera in 3 parti
may refer to the same division into
three sections which is spoken of in chapters 14 to 17.].

The plan of the book on Painting (14–17).



There are three branches of perspective; the first deals with the
reasons of the (apparent) diminution of objects as they recede from
the eye, and is known as Diminishing Perspective.–The second
contains the way in which colours vary as they recede from the eye.
The third and last is concerned with the explanation of how the
objects [in a picture] ought to be less finished in proportion as
they are remote (and the names are as follows):

Linear Perspective. The Perspective of Colour. The Perspective of

[Footnote: 13. From the character of the handwriting I infer that
this passage was written before the year 1490.].



The divisions of Perspective are 3, as used in drawing; of these,
the first includes the diminution in size of opaque objects; the
second treats of the diminution and loss of outline in such opaque
objects; the third, of the diminution and loss of colour at long

[Footnote: The division is here the same as in the previous chapter
No. 14, and this is worthy of note when we connect it with the fact
that a space of about 20 years must have intervened between the
writing of the two passages.]



Perspective, as bearing on drawing, is divided into three principal
sections; of which the first treats of the diminution in the size of
bodies at different distances. The second part is that which treats
of the diminution in colour in these objects. The third [deals with]
the diminished distinctness of the forms and outlines displayed by
the objects at various distances.



The first thing in painting is that the objects it represents should
appear in relief, and that the grounds surrounding them at different
distances shall appear within the vertical plane of the foreground
of the picture by means of the 3 branches of Perspective, which are:
the diminution in the distinctness of the forms of the objects, the
diminution in their magnitude; and the diminution in their colour.
And of these 3 classes of Perspective the first results from [the
structure of] the eye, while the other two are caused by the
atmosphere which intervenes between the eye and the objects seen by
it. The second essential in painting is appropriate action and a due
variety in the figures, so that the men may not all look like
brothers, &c.

[Footnote: This and the two foregoing chapters must have been
written in 1513 to 1516. They undoubtedly indicate the scheme which
Leonardo wished to carry out in arranging his researches on
Perspective as applied to Painting. This is important because it is
an evidence against the supposition of H. LUDWIG and others, that
Leonardo had collected his principles of Perspective in one book so
early as before 1500; a Book which, according to the hypothesis,
must have been lost at a very early period, or destroyed possibly,
by the French (!) in 1500 (see H. LUDWIG. L. da Vinci: Das Buch van
der Malerei
. Vienna 1882 III, 7 and 8).]

The use of the book on Painting.


These rules are of use only in correcting the figures; since every
man makes some mistakes in his first compositions and he who knows
them not, cannot amend them. But you, knowing your errors, will
correct your works and where you find mistakes amend them, and
remember never to fall into them again. But if you try to apply
these rules in composition you will never make an end, and will
produce confusion in your works.

These rules will enable you to have a free and sound judgment; since
good judgment is born of clear understanding, and a clear
understanding comes of reasons derived from sound rules, and sound
rules are the issue of sound experience–the common mother of all
the sciences and arts. Hence, bearing in mind the precepts of my
rules, you will be able, merely by your amended judgment, to
criticise and recognise every thing that is out of proportion in a
work, whether in the perspective or in the figures or any thing

Necessity of theoretical knowledge (19. 20).



Those who are in love with practice without knowledge are like the
sailor who gets into a ship without rudder or compass and who never
can be certain whether he is going. Practice must always be founded
on sound theory, and to this Perspective is the guide and the
gateway; and without this nothing can be done well in the matter of


The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any
reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of
it without being conscious of their existence.

The function of the eye (21-23).



Behold here O reader! a thing concerning which we cannot trust our
forefathers, the ancients, who tried to define what the Soul and
Life are–which are beyond proof, whereas those things, which can at
any time be clearly known and proved by experience, remained for
many ages unknown or falsely understood. The eye, whose function we
so certainly know by experience, has, down to my own time, been
defined by an infinite number of authors as one thing; but I find,
by experience, that it is quite another. [Footnote 13: Compare the
note to No. 70.]

[Footnote: In section 13 we already find it indicated that the study
of Perspective and of Optics is to be based on that of the functions
of the eye. Leonardo also refers to the science of the eye, in his
astronomical researches, for instance in MS. F 25b ‘Ordine del
provare la terra essere una stella: Imprima difinisce l’occhio’
&c. Compare also MS. E 15b and F 60b. The principles of astronomical


Here [in the eye] forms, here colours, here the character of every
part of the universe are concentrated to a point; and that point is
so marvellous a thing … Oh! marvellous, O stupendous Necessity–by
thy laws thou dost compel every effect to be the direct result of
its cause, by the shortest path. These [indeed] are miracles;…

In so small a space it can be reproduced and rearranged in its whole
expanse. Describe in your anatomy what proportion there is between
the diameters of all the images in the eye and the distance from
them of the crystalline lens.



Painting is concerned with all the 10 attributes of sight; which
are:–Darkness, Light, Solidity and Colour, Form and Position,
Distance and Propinquity, Motion and Rest. This little work of mine
will be a tissue [of the studies] of these attributes, reminding the
painter of the rules and methods by which he should use his art to
imitate all the works of Nature which adorn the world.



Variability of the eye.

1st. The pupil of the eye contracts, in proportion to the increase
of light which is reflected in it. 2nd. The pupil of the eye expands
in proportion to the diminution in the day light, or any other
light, that is reflected in it. 3rd. [Footnote: 8. The subject of
this third proposition we find fully discussed in MS. G. 44a.]. The
eye perceives and recognises the objects of its vision with greater
intensity in proportion as the pupil is more widely dilated; and
this can be proved by the case of nocturnal animals, such as cats,
and certain birds–as the owl and others–in which the pupil varies
in a high degree from large to small, &c., when in the dark or in
the light. 4th. The eye [out of doors] in an illuminated atmosphere
sees darkness behind the windows of houses which [nevertheless] are
light. 5th. All colours when placed in the shade appear of an equal
degree of darkness, among themselves. 6th. But all colours when
placed in a full light, never vary from their true and essential



Focus of sight.

If the eye is required to look at an object placed too near to it,
it cannot judge of it well–as happens to a man who tries to see the
tip of his nose. Hence, as a general rule, Nature teaches us that an
object can never be seen perfectly unless the space between it and
the eye is equal, at least, to the length of the face.

Differences of perception by one eye and by both eyes (26-29).



When both eyes direct the pyramid of sight to an object, that object
becomes clearly seen and comprehended by the eyes.


Objects seen by one and the same eye appear sometimes large, and
sometimes small.


The motion of a spectator who sees an object at rest often makes it
seem as though the object at rest had acquired the motion of the
moving body, while the moving person appears to be at rest.


Objects in relief, when seen from a short distance with one eye,
look like a perfect picture. If you look with the eye a, b at
the spot c, this point c will appear to be at d, f, and if
you look at it with the eye g, h will appear to be at m. A
picture can never contain in itself both aspects.


Let the object in relief t be seen by both eyes; if you will look
at the object with the right eye m, keeping the left eye n shut,
the object will appear, or fill up the space, at a; and if you
shut the right eye and open the left, the object (will occupy the)
space b; and if you open both eyes, the object will no longer
appear at a or b, but at e, r, f. Why will not a picture
seen by both eyes produce the effect of relief, as [real] relief
does when seen by both eyes; and why should a picture seen with one
eye give the same effect of relief as real relief would under the
same conditions of light and shade?

[Footnote: In the sketch, m is the left eye and n the right,
while the text reverses this lettering. We must therefore suppose
that the face in which the eyes m and n are placed is opposite
to the spectator.]


The comparative size of the image depends on the amount of light

The eye will hold and retain in itself the image of a luminous body
better than that of a shaded object. The reason is that the eye is
in itself perfectly dark and since two things that are alike cannot
be distinguished, therefore the night, and other dark objects cannot
be seen or recognised by the eye. Light is totally contrary and
gives more distinctness, and counteracts and differs from the usual
darkness of the eye, hence it leaves the impression of its image.


Every object we see will appear larger at midnight than at midday,
and larger in the morning than at midday.

This happens because the pupil of the eye is much smaller at midday
than at any other time.


The pupil which is largest will see objects the largest. This is
evident when we look at luminous bodies, and particularly at those
in the sky. When the eye comes out of darkness and suddenly looks up
at these bodies, they at first appear larger and then diminish; and
if you were to look at those bodies through a small opening, you
would see them smaller still, because a smaller part of the pupil
would exercise its function.

[Footnote: 9. buso in the Lomb. dialect is the same as buco.]


When the eye, coming out of darkness suddenly sees a luminous body,
it will appear much larger at first sight than after long looking at
it. The illuminated object will look larger and more brilliant, when
seen with two eyes than with only one. A luminous object will appear
smaller in size, when the eye sees it through a smaller opening. A
luminous body of an oval form will appear rounder in proportion as
it is farther from the eye.


Why when the eye has just seen the light, does the half light look
dark to it, and in the same way if it turns from the darkness the
half light look very bright?



If the eye, when [out of doors] in the luminous atmosphere, sees a
place in shadow, this will look very much darker than it really is.
This happens only because the eye when out in the air contracts the
pupil in proportion as the atmosphere reflected in it is more
luminous. And the more the pupil contracts, the less luminous do the
objects appear that it sees. But as soon as the eye enters into a
shady place the darkness of the shadow suddenly seems to diminish.
This occurs because the greater the darkness into which the pupil
goes the more its size increases, and this increase makes the
darkness seem less.

[Footnote 14: La luce entrerà. Luce occurs here in the sense of
pupil of the eye as in no 51: C. A. 84b; 245a; I–5; and in many
other places.]



The eye which turns from a white object in the light of the sun and
goes into a less fully lighted place will see everything as dark.
And this happens either because the pupils of the eyes which have
rested on this brilliantly lighted white object have contracted so
much that, given at first a certain extent of surface, they will
have lost more than 3/4 of their size; and, lacking in size, they
are also deficient in [seeing] power. Though you might say to me: A
little bird (then) coming down would see comparatively little, and
from the smallness of his pupils the white might seem black! To this
I should reply that here we must have regard to the proportion of
the mass of that portion of the brain which is given up to the sense
of sight and to nothing else. Or–to return–this pupil in Man
dilates and contracts according to the brightness or darkness of
(surrounding) objects; and since it takes some time to dilate and
contract, it cannot see immediately on going out of the light and
into the shade, nor, in the same way, out of the shade into the
light, and this very thing has already deceived me in painting an
eye, and from that I learnt it.


Experiment [showing] the dilatation and contraction of the pupil,
from the motion of the sun and other luminaries. In proportion as
the sky is darker the stars appear of larger size, and if you were
to light up the medium these stars would look smaller; and this
difference arises solely from the pupil which dilates and contracts
with the amount of light in the medium which is interposed between
the eye and the luminous body. Let the experiment be made, by
placing a candle above your head at the same time that you look at a
star; then gradually lower the candle till it is on a level with the
ray that comes from the star to the eye, and then you will see the
star diminish so much that you will almost lose sight of it.

[Footnote: No reference is made in the text to the letters on the
accompanying diagram.]


The pupil of the eye, in the open air, changes in size with every
degree of motion from the sun; and at every degree of its changes
one and the same object seen by it will appear of a different size;
although most frequently the relative scale of surrounding objects
does not allow us to detect these variations in any single object we
may look at.


The eye–which sees all objects reversed–retains the images for
some time. This conclusion is proved by the results; because, the
eye having gazed at light retains some impression of it. After
looking (at it) there remain in the eye images of intense
brightness, that make any less brilliant spot seem dark until the
eye has lost the last trace of the impression of the stronger light.


Linear Perspective.

We see clearly from the concluding sentence of section 49, where the
author directly addresses the painter, that he must certainly have
intended to include the elements of mathematics in his Book on the
art of Painting. They are therefore here placed at the beginning. In
section 50 the theory of the “Pyramid of Sight” is distinctly and
expressly put forward as the fundamental principle of linear
perspective, and sections 52 to 57 treat of it fully. This theory of
sight can scarcely be traced to any author of antiquity. Such
passages as occur in Euclid for instance, may, it is true, have
proved suggestive to the painters of the Renaissance, but it would
be rash to say any thing decisive on this point.

Leon Battista Alberti treats of the “Pyramid of Sight” at some
length in his first Book of Painting; but his explanation differs
widely from Leonardo’s in the details. Leonardo, like Alberti, may
have borrowed the broad lines of his theory from some views commonly
accepted among painters at the time; but he certainly worked out its
application in a perfectly original manner.

The axioms as to the perception of the pyramid of rays are followed
by explanations of its origin, and proofs of its universal
application (58–69). The author recurs to the subject with endless
variations; it is evidently of fundamental importance in his
artistic theory and practice. It is unnecessary to discuss how far
this theory has any scientific value at the present day; so much as
this, at any rate, seems certain: that from the artist’s point of
view it may still claim to be of immense practical utility.

According to Leonardo, on one hand, the laws of perspective are an
inalienable condition of the existence of objects in space; on the
other hand, by a natural law, the eye, whatever it sees and wherever
it turns, is subjected to the perception of the pyramid of rays in
the form of a minute target. Thus it sees objects in perspective
independently of the will of the spectator, since the eye receives
the images by means of the pyramid of rays “just as a magnet
attracts iron”.

In connection with this we have the function of the eye explained by
the Camera obscura, and this is all the more interesting and
important because no writer previous to Leonardo had treated of this
subject_ (70–73). Subsequent passages, of no less special interest,
betray his knowledge of refraction and of the inversion of the image
in the camera and in the eye

From the principle of the transmission of the image to the eye and
to the camera obscura he deduces the means of producing an
artificial construction of the pyramid of rays or–which is the same
thing–of the image. The fundamental axioms as to the angle of sight
and the vanishing point are thus presented in a manner which is as
complete as it is simple and intelligible

Leonardo distinguishes between simple and complex perspective (90,
91). The last sections treat of the apparent size of objects at
various distances and of the way to estimate it

General remarks on perspective (40-41).



Perspective is the best guide to the art of Painting.

[Footnote: 40. Compare 53, 2.]


The art of perspective is of such a nature as to make what is flat
appear in relief and what is in relief flat.

The elements of perspective–Of the Point (42-46).


All the problems of perspective are made clear by the five terms of
mathematicians, which are:–the point, the line, the angle, the
superficies and the solid. The point is unique of its kind. And the
point has neither height, breadth, length, nor depth, whence it is
to be regarded as indivisible and as having no dimensions in space.
The line is of three kinds, straight, curved and sinuous and it has
neither breadth, height, nor depth. Hence it is indivisible,
excepting in its length, and its ends are two points. The angle is
the junction of two lines in a point.


A point is not part of a line.



The smallest natural point is larger than all mathematical points,
and this is proved because the natural point has continuity, and any
thing that is continuous is infinitely divisible; but the
mathematical point is indivisible because it has no size.

[Footnote: This definition was inserted by Leonardo on a MS. copy on
parchment of the well-known “Trattato d’Architettura civile e
&c. by FRANCESCO DI GIORGIO; opposite a passage where the
author says: _’In prima he da sapere che punto è quella parie della
quale he nulla–Linia he luncheza senza àpieza; &c.]


1, The superficies is a limitation of the body. 2, and the
limitation of a body is no part of that body. 4, and the limitation
of one body is that which begins another. 3, that which is not part
of any body is nothing. Nothing is that which fills no space.

If one single point placed in a circle may be the starting point of
an infinite number of lines, and the termination of an infinite
number of lines, there must be an infinite number of points
separable from this point, and these when reunited become one again;
whence it follows that the part may be equal to the whole.


The point, being indivisible, occupies no space. That which occupies
no space is nothing. The limiting surface of one thing is the
beginning of another. 2. That which is no part of any body is called
nothing. 1. That which has no limitations, has no form. The
limitations of two conterminous bodies are interchangeably the
surface of each. All the surfaces of a body are not parts of that

Of the line (47-48).



The line has in itself neither matter nor substance and may rather
be called an imaginary idea than a real object; and this being its
nature it occupies no space. Therefore an infinite number of lines
may be conceived of as intersecting each other at a point, which has
no dimensions and is only of the thickness (if thickness it may be
called) of one single line.


An angular surface is reduced to a point where it terminates in an
angle. Or, if the sides of that angle are produced in a straight
line, then–beyond that angle–another surface is generated,
smaller, or equal to, or larger than the first.



Consider with the greatest care the form of the outlines of every
object, and the character of their undulations. And these
undulations must be separately studied, as to whether the curves are
composed of arched convexities or angular concavities.


The nature of the outline.

The boundaries of bodies are the least of all things. The
proposition is proved to be true, because the boundary of a thing is
a surface, which is not part of the body contained within that
surface; nor is it part of the air surrounding that body, but is the
medium interposted between the air and the body, as is proved in its
place. But the lateral boundaries of these bodies is the line
forming the boundary of the surface, which line is of invisible
thickness. Wherefore O painter! do not surround your bodies with
lines, and above all when representing objects smaller than nature;
for not only will their external outlines become indistinct, but
their parts will be invisible from distance.


Definition of Perspective.

[Drawing is based upon perspective, which is nothing else than a
thorough knowledge of the function of the eye. And this function
simply consists in receiving in a pyramid the forms and colours of
all the objects placed before it. I say in a pyramid, because there
is no object so small that it will not be larger than the spot where
these pyramids are received into the eye. Therefore, if you extend
the lines from the edges of each body as they converge you will
bring them to a single point, and necessarily the said lines must
form a pyramid.]

[Perspective is nothing more than a rational demonstration applied
to the consideration of how objects in front of the eye transmit
their image to it, by means of a pyramid of lines. The Pyramid is
the name I apply to the lines which, starting from the surface and
edges of each object, converge from a distance and meet in a single

[Perspective is a rational demonstration, by which we may
practically and clearly understand how objects transmit their own
image, by lines forming a Pyramid (centred) in the eye.]

Perspective is a rational demonstration by which experience confirms
that every object sends its image to the eye by a pyramid of lines;
and bodies of equal size will result in a pyramid of larger or
smaller size, according to the difference in their distance, one
from the other. By a pyramid of lines I mean those which start from
the surface and edges of bodies, and, converging from a distance
meet in a single point. A point is said to be that which [having no
dimensions] cannot be divided, and this point placed in the eye
receives all the points of the cone.

[Footnote: 50. 1-5. Compare with this the Proem. No. 21. The
paragraphs placed in brackets: lines 1-9, 10-14, and 17–20, are
evidently mere sketches and, as such, were cancelled by the writer;
but they serve as a commentary on the final paragraph, lines 22-29.]



The perception of the object depends on the direction of the eye.

Supposing that the ball figured above is the ball of the eye and let
the small portion of the ball which is cut off by the line s t be
the pupil and all the objects mirrored on the centre of the face of
the eye, by means of the pupil, pass on at once and enter the pupil,
passing through the crystalline humour, which does not interfere in
the pupil with the things seen by means of the light. And the pupil
having received the objects, by means of the light, immediately
refers them and transmits them to the intellect by the line a b.
And you must know that the pupil transmits nothing perfectly to the
intellect or common sense excepting when the objects presented to it
by means of light, reach it by the line a b; as, for instance, by
the line b c. For although the lines m n and f g may be seen
by the pupil they are not perfectly taken in, because they do not
coincide with the line a b. And the proof is this: If the eye,
shown above, wants to count the letters placed in front, the eye
will be obliged to turn from letter to letter, because it cannot
discern them unless they lie in the line a b; as, for instance, in
the line a c. All visible objects reach the eye by the lines of a
pyramid, and the point of the pyramid is the apex and centre of it,
in the centre of the pupil, as figured above.

[Footnote: 51. In this problem the eye is conceived of as fixed and
immovable; this is plain from line 11.]

Experimental proof of the existence of the pyramid of sight (52-55).


Perspective is a rational demonstration, confirmed by experience,
that all objects transmit their image to the eye by a pyramid of

By a pyramid of lines I understand those lines which start from the
edges of the surface of bodies, and converging from a distance, meet
in a single point; and this point, in the present instance, I will
show to be situated in the eye which is the universal judge of all
objects. By a point I mean that which cannot be divided into parts;
therefore this point, which is situated in the eye, being
indivisible, no body is seen by the eye, that is not larger than
this point. This being the case it is inevitable that the lines
which come from the object to the point must form a pyramid. And if
any man seeks to prove that the sense of sight does not reside in
this point, but rather in the black spot which is visible in the
middle of the pupil, I might reply to him that a small object could
never diminish at any distance, as it might be a grain of millet or
of oats or of some similar thing, and that object, if it were larger
than the said [black] spot would never be seen as a whole; as may be
seen in the diagram below. Let a. be the seat of sight, b e the
lines which reach the eye. Let e d be the grains of millet within
these lines. You plainly see that these will never diminish by
distance, and that the body m n could not be entirely covered by
it. Therefore you must confess that the eye contains within itself
one single indivisible point a, to which all the points converge
of the pyramid of lines starting from an object, as is shown below.
Let a. b. be the eye; in the centre of it is the point above
mentioned. If the line e f is to enter as an image into so small
an opening in the eye, you must confess that the smaller object
cannot enter into what is smaller than itself unless it is
diminished, and by diminishing it must take the form of a pyramid.



Perspective comes in where judgment fails [as to the distance] in
objects which diminish. The eye can never be a true judge for
determining with exactitude how near one object is to another which
is equal to it [in size], if the top of that other is on the level
of the eye which sees them on that side, excepting by means of the
vertical plane which is the standard and guide of perspective. Let
n be the eye, e f the vertical plane above mentioned. Let a b c
be the three divisions, one below the other; if the lines a n
and c n are of a given length and the eye n is in the centre,
then a b will look as large as b c. c d is lower and farther off
from n, therefore it will look smaller. And the same effect will
appear in the three divisions of a face when the eye of the painter
who is drawing it is on a level with the eye of the person he is



If you look at the sun or some other luminous body and then shut
your eyes you will see it again inside your eye for a long time.
This is evidence that images enter into the eye.

The relations of the distance points to the vanishing point (55-56).



All objects transmit their image to the eye in pyramids, and the
nearer to the eye these pyramids are intersected the smaller will
the image appear of the objects which cause them. Therefore, you may
intersect the pyramid with a vertical plane [Footnote 4: Pariete.
Compare the definitions in 85, 2-5, 6-27. These lines refer
exclusively to the third diagram. For the better understanding of
this it should be observed that c s must be regarded as
representing the section or profile of a square plane, placed
horizontally (comp. lines 11, 14, 17) for which the word pianura
is subsequently employed (20, 22). Lines 6-13 contain certain
preliminary observations to guide the reader in understanding the
diagram; the last three seem to have been added as a supplement.
Leonardo’s mistake in writing t denota (line 6) for f denota has
been rectified.] which reaches the base of the pyramid as is shown
in the plane a n.

The eye f and the eye t are one and the same thing; but the eye
f marks the distance, that is to say how far you are standing from
the object; and the eye t shows you the direction of it; that is
whether you are opposite, or on one side, or at an angle to the
object you are looking at. And remember that the eye f and the eye
t must always be kept on the same level. For example if you raise
or lower the eye from the distance point f you must do the same
with the direction point t. And if the point f shows how far the
eye is distant from the square plane but does not show on which side
it is placed–and, if in the same way, the point t show s the
direction and not the distance, in order to ascertain both you must
use both points and they will be one and the same thing. If the eye
f could see a perfect square of which all the sides were equal to
the distance between s and c, and if at the nearest end of the
side towards the eye a pole were placed, or some other straight
object, set up by a perpendicular line as shown at r s–then, I
say, that if you were to look at the side of the square that is
nearest to you it will appear at the bottom of the vertical plane r
, and then look at the farther side and it would appear to you at
the height of the point n on the vertical plane. Thus, by this
example, you can understand that if the eye is above a number of
objects all placed on the same level, one beyond another, the more
remote they are the higher they will seem, up to the level of the
eye, but no higher; because objects placed upon the level on which
your feet stand, so long as it is flat–even if it be extended into
infinity–would never be seen above the eye; since the eye has in
itself the point towards which all the cones tend and converge which
convey the images of the objects to the eye. And this point always
coincides with the point of diminution which is the extreme of all
we can see. And from the base line of the first pyramid as far as
the diminishing point

[Footnote: The two diagrams above the chapter are explained by the
first five lines. They have, however, more letters than are referred
to in the text, a circumstance we frequently find occasion to


there are only bases without pyramids which constantly diminish up
to this point. And from the first base where the vertical plane is
placed towards the point in the eye there will be only pyramids
without bases; as shown in the example given above. Now, let a b
be the said vertical plane and r the point of the pyramid
terminating in the eye, and n the point of diminution which is
always in a straight line opposite the eye and always moves as the
eye moves–just as when a rod is moved its shadow moves, and moves
with it, precisely as the shadow moves with a body. And each point
is the apex of a pyramid, all having a common base with the
intervening vertical plane. But although their bases are equal their
angles are not equal, because the diminishing point is the
termination of a smaller angle than that of the eye. If you ask me:
“By what practical experience can you show me these points?” I
reply–so far as concerns the diminishing point which moves with you
–when you walk by a ploughed field look at the straight furrows
which come down with their ends to the path where you are walking,
and you will see that each pair of furrows will look as though they
tried to get nearer and meet at the [farther] end.

[Footnote: For the easier understanding of the diagram and of its
connection with the preceding I may here remark that the square
plane shown above in profile by the line c s is here indicated by
e d o p. According to lines 1, 3 a b must be imagined as a plane
of glass placed perpendicularly at o p.]


How to measure the pyramid of vision.

As regards the point in the eye; it is made more intelligible by
this: If you look into the eye of another person you will see your
own image. Now imagine 2 lines starting from your ears and going to
the ears of that image which you see in the other man’s eye; you
will understand that these lines converge in such a way that they
would meet in a point a little way beyond your own image mirrored in
the eye. And if you want to measure the diminution of the pyramid in
the air which occupies the space between the object seen and the
eye, you must do it according to the diagram figured below. Let m
be a tower, and e f a, rod, which you must move backwards and
forwards till its ends correspond with those of the tower [Footnote
9: I sua stremi .. della storre (its ends … of the tower) this
is the case at e f.]; then bring it nearer to the eye, at c d
and you will see that the image of the tower seems smaller, as at r
. Then [again] bring it closer to the eye and you will see the rod
project far beyond the image of the tower from a to b and from
t to b, and so you will discern that, a little farther within,
the lines must converge in a point.

The Production of pyramid of Vision (58-60).



The instant the atmosphere is illuminated it will be filled with an
infinite number of images which are produced by the various bodies
and colours assembled in it. And the eye is the target, a loadstone,
of these images.


The whole surface of opaque bodies displays its whole image in all
the illuminated atmosphere which surrounds them on all sides.


That the atmosphere attracts to itself, like a loadstone, all the
images of the objects that exist in it, and not their forms merely
but their nature may be clearly seen by the sun, which is a hot and
luminous body. All the atmosphere, which is the all-pervading
matter, absorbs light and heat, and reflects in itself the image of
the source of that heat and splendour and, in each minutest portion,
does the same. The Northpole does the same as the loadstone shows;
and the moon and the other planets, without suffering any
diminution, do the same. Among terrestrial things musk does the same
and other perfumes.


All bodies together, and each by itself, give off to the surrounding
air an infinite number of images which are all-pervading and each
complete, each conveying the nature, colour and form of the body
which produces it.

It can clearly be shown that all bodies are, by their images,
all-pervading in the surrounding atmosphere, and each complete in
itself as to substance form and colour; this is seen by the images
of the various bodies which are reproduced in one single perforation
through which they transmit the objects by lines which intersect and
cause reversed pyramids, from the objects, so that they are upside
down on the dark plane where they are first reflected. The reason of
this is–

[Footnote: The diagram intended to illustrate the statement (Pl. II
No. i) occurs in the original between lines 3 and 4. The three
circles must be understood to represent three luminous bodies which
transmit their images through perforations in a wall into a dark
chamber, according to a law which is more fully explained in 75?81.
So far as concerns the present passage the diagram is only intended
to explain that the images of the three bodies may be made to
coalesce at any given spot. In the circles are written,
giallo–yellow, biàcho–white, rosso–red.

The text breaks off at line 8. The paragraph No.40 follows here in
the original MS.]


Every point is the termination of an infinite number of lines, which
diverge to form a base, and immediately, from the base the same
lines converge to a pyramid [imaging] both the colour and form. No
sooner is a form created or compounded than suddenly infinite lines
and angles are produced from it; and these lines, distributing
themselves and intersecting each other in the air, give rise to an
infinite number of angles opposite to each other. Given a base, each
opposite angle, will form a triangle having a form and proportion
equal to the larger angle; and if the base goes twice into each of
the 2 lines of the pyramid the smaller triangle will do the same.


Every body in light and shade fills the surrounding air with
infinite images of itself; and these, by infinite pyramids diffused
in the air, represent this body throughout space and on every side.
Each pyramid that is composed of a long assemblage of rays includes
within itself an infinite number of pyramids and each has the same
power as all, and all as each. A circle of equidistant pyramids of
vision will give to their object angles of equal size; and an eye at
each point will see the object of the same size. The body of the
atmosphere is full of infinite pyramids composed of radiating
straight lines, which are produced from the surface of the bodies in
light and shade, existing in the air; and the farther they are from
the object which produces them the more acute they become and
although in their distribution they intersect and cross they never
mingle together, but pass through all the surrounding air,
independently converging, spreading, and diffused. And they are all
of equal power [and value]; all equal to each, and each equal to
all. By these the images of objects are transmitted through all
space and in every direction, and each pyramid, in itself, includes,
in each minutest part, the whole form of the body causing it.


The body of the atmosphere is full of infinite radiating pyramids
produced by the objects existing in it. These intersect and cross
each other with independent convergence without interfering with
each other and pass through all the surrounding atmosphere; and are
of equal force and value–all being equal to each, each to all. And
by means of these, images of the body are transmitted everywhere and
on all sides, and each receives in itself every minutest portion of
the object that produces it.

Proof by experiment (65-66).



The air is filled with endless images of the objects distributed in
it; and all are represented in all, and all in one, and all in each,
whence it happens that if two mirrors are placed in such a manner as
to face each other exactly, the first will be reflected in the
second and the second in the first. The first being reflected in the
second takes to it the image of itself with all the images
represented in it, among which is the image of the second mirror,
and so, image within image, they go on to infinity in such a manner
as that each mirror has within it a mirror, each smaller than the
last and one inside the other. Thus, by this example, it is clearly
proved that every object sends its image to every spot whence the
object itself can be seen; and the converse: That the same object
may receive in itself all the images of the objects that are in
front of it. Hence the eye transmits through the atmosphere its own
image to all the objects that are in front of it and receives them
into itself, that is to say on its surface, whence they are taken in
by the common sense, which considers them and if they are pleasing
commits them to the memory. Whence I am of opinion: That the
invisible images in the eyes are produced towards the object, as the
image of the object to the eye. That the images of the objects must
be disseminated through the air. An instance may be seen in several
mirrors placed in a circle, which will reflect each other endlessly.
When one has reached the other it is returned to the object that
produced it, and thence–being diminished–it is returned again to
the object and then comes back once more, and this happens
endlessly. If you put a light between two flat mirrors with a
distance of 1 braccio between them you will see in each of them an
infinite number of lights, one smaller than another, to the last. If
at night you put a light between the walls of a room, all the parts
of that wall will be tinted with the image of that light. And they
will receive the light and the light will fall on them, mutually,
that is to say, when there is no obstacle to interrupt the
transmission of the images. This same example is seen in a greater
degree in the distribution of the solar rays which all together, and
each by itself, convey to the object the image of the body which
causes it. That each body by itself alone fills with its images the
atmosphere around it, and that the same air is able, at the same
time, to receive the images of the endless other objects which are
in it, this is clearly proved by these examples. And every object is
everywhere visible in the whole of the atmosphere, and the whole in
every smallest part of it; and all the objects in the whole, and all
in each smallest part; each in all and all in every part.


The images of objects are all diffused through the atmosphere which
receives them; and all on every side in it. To prove this, let a c
be objects of which the images are admitted to a dark chamber by
the small holes n p and thrown upon the plane f i opposite to
these holes. As many images will be produced in the chamber on the
plane as the number of the said holes.


General conclusions.

All objects project their whole image and likeness, diffused and
mingled in the whole of the atmosphere, opposite to themselves. The
image of every point of the bodily surface, exists in every part of
the atmosphere. All the images of the objects are in every part of
the atmosphere. The whole, and each part of the image of the
atmosphere is [reflected] in each point of the surface of the bodies
presented to it. Therefore both the part and the whole of the images
of the objects exist, both in the whole and in the parts of the
surface of these visible bodies. Whence we may evidently say that
the image of each object exists, as a whole and in every part, in
each part and in the whole interchangeably in every existing body.
As is seen in two mirrors placed opposite to each other.


That the contrary is impossible.

It is impossible that the eye should project from itself, by visual
rays, the visual virtue, since, as soon as it opens, that front
portion [of the eye] which would give rise to this emanation would
have to go forth to the object and this it could not do without
time. And this being so, it could not travel so high as the sun in a
month’s time when the eye wanted to see it. And if it could reach
the sun it would necessarily follow that it should perpetually
remain in a continuous line from the eye to the sun and should
always diverge in such a way as to form between the sun and the eye
the base and the apex of a pyramid. This being the case, if the eye
consisted of a million worlds, it would not prevent its being
consumed in the projection of its virtue; and if this virtue would
have to travel through the air as perfumes do, the winds would bent
it and carry it into another place. But we do [in fact] see the mass
of the sun with the same rapidity as [an object] at the distance of
a braccio, and the power of sight is not disturbed by the blowing of
the winds nor by any other accident.

[Footnote: The view here refuted by Leonardo was maintained among
others by Bramantino, Leonardo’s Milanese contemporary. LOMAZZO
writes as follows in his Trattato dell’ Arte della pittura &c.
(Milano 1584. Libr. V cp. XXI): Sovviemmi di aver già letto in certi
scritti alcune cose di Bramantino milanese, celebratissimo pittore,
attenente alla prospettiva, le quali ho voluto riferire, e quasi
intessere in questo luogo, affinchè sappiamo qual fosse l’opinione
di cosi chiaro e famoso pittore intorno alla prospettiva . . Scrive
Bramantino che la prospettiva è una cosa che contrafà il naturale, e
che ciò si fa in tre modi

Circa il primo modo che si fa con ragione, per essere la cosa in
poche parole conclusa da Bramantino in maniera che giudico non
potersi dir meglio, contenendovi si tutta Parte del principio al
fine, io riferirò per appunto le proprie parole sue (cp. XXII, Prima
prospettiva di Bramantino). La prima prospettiva fa le cose di
punto, e l’altra non mai, e la terza più appresso. Adunque la prima
si dimanda prospettiva, cioè ragione, la quale fa l’effetto dell’
occhio, facendo crescere e calare secondo gli effetti degli occhi.
Questo crescere e calare non procede della cosa propria, che in se
per esser lontana, ovvero vicina, per quello effetto non può
crescere e sminuire, ma procede dagli effetti degli occhi, i quali
sono piccioli, e perciò volendo vedere tanto gran cosa_, bisogna che
mandino fuora la virtù visiva, la quale si dilata in tanta
larghezza, che piglia tutto quello che vuoi vedere, ed
arrivando a
quella cosa la vede dove è: e da lei agli occhi per quello circuito
fino all’ occhio, e tutto quello termine è pieno di quella cosa

It is worthy of note that Leonardo had made his memorandum refuting
this view, at Milan in 1492]


A parallel case.

Just as a stone flung into the water becomes the centre and cause of
many circles, and as sound diffuses itself in circles in the air: so
any object, placed in the luminous atmosphere, diffuses itself in
circles, and fills the surrounding air with infinite images of
itself. And is repeated, the whole every-where, and the whole in
every smallest part. This can be proved by experiment, since if you
shut a window that faces west and make a hole [Footnote: 6. Here the
text breaks off.] . .

[Footnote: Compare LIBRI, Histoire des sciences mathématiques en
. Tome III, p. 43.]

The function of the eye as explained by the camera obscura (70. 71).


If the object in front of the eye sends its image to the eye, the
eye, on the other hand, sends its image to the object, and no
portion whatever of the object is lost in the images it throws off,
for any reason either in the eye or the object. Therefore we may
rather believe it to be the nature and potency of our luminous
atmosphere which absorbs the images of the objects existing in it,
than the nature of the objects, to send their images through the
air. If the object opposite to the eye were to send its image to the
eye, the eye would have to do the same to the object, whence it
might seem that these images were an emanation. But, if so, it would
be necessary [to admit] that every object became rapidly smaller;
because each object appears by its images in the surrounding
atmosphere. That is: the whole object in the whole atmosphere, and
in each part; and all the objects in the whole atmosphere and all of
them in each part; speaking of that atmosphere which is able to
contain in itself the straight and radiating lines of the images
projected by the objects. From this it seems necessary to admit that
it is in the nature of the atmosphere, which subsists between the
objects, and which attracts the images of things to itself like a
loadstone, being placed between them.


I say that if the front of a building–or any open piazza or
field–which is illuminated by the sun has a dwelling opposite to
it, and if, in the front which does not face the sun, you make a
small round hole, all the illuminated objects will project their
images through that hole and be visible inside the dwelling on the
opposite wall which may be made white; and there, in fact, they will
be upside down, and if you make similar openings in several places
in the same wall you will have the same result from each. Hence the
images of the illuminated objects are all everywhere on this wall
and all in each minutest part of it. The reason, as we clearly know,
is that this hole must admit some light to the said dwelling, and
the light admitted by it is derived from one or many luminous
bodies. If these bodies are of various colours and shapes the rays
forming the images are of various colours and shapes, and so will
the representations be on the wall.

[Footnote: 70. 15–23. This section has already been published in the
Saggio delle Opere di Leonardo da Vinci” Milan 1872, pp. 13, 14.
G. Govi observes upon it, that Leonardo is not to be regarded as the
inventor of the Camera obscura, but that he was the first to explain
by it the structure of the eye. An account of the Camera obscura
first occurs in CESARE CESARINI’s Italian version of Vitruvius, pub.
1523, four years after Leonardo’s death. Cesarini expressly names
Benedettino Don Papnutio as the inventor of the Camera obscura. In
his explanation of the function of the eye by a comparison with the
Camera obscura Leonardo was the precursor of G. CARDANO, Professor
of Medicine at Bologna (died 1576) and it appears highly probable
that this is, in fact, the very discovery which Leonardo ascribes to
himself in section 21 without giving any further details.]



An experiment, showing how objects transmit their images or
pictures, intersecting within the eye in the crystalline humour, is
seen when by some small round hole penetrate the images of
illuminated objects into a very dark chamber. Then, receive these
images on a white paper placed within this dark room and rather near
to the hole and you will see all the objects on the paper in their
proper forms and colours, but much smaller; and they will be upside
down by reason of that very intersection. These images being
transmitted from a place illuminated by the sun will seem actually
painted on this paper which must be extremely thin and looked at
from behind. And let the little perforation be made in a very thin
plate of iron. Let a b e d e be the object illuminated by the sun
and o r the front of the dark chamber in which is the said hole at
n m. Let s t be the sheet of paper intercepting the rays of the
images of these objects upside down, because the rays being
straight, a on the right hand becomes k on the left, and e on
the left becomes f on the right; and the same takes place inside
the pupil.

[Footnote: This chapter is already known through a translation into
French by VENTURI. Compare his ‘Essai sur les ouvrages
physico-mathématiques de L. da Vinci avec des fragments tirés de ses
Manuscrits, apportés de l’Italie. Lu a la premiere classe de
l’Institut national des Sciences et Arts.’ Paris, An V

The practice of perspective (72. 73).


In the practice of perspective the same rules apply to light and to
the eye.


The object which is opposite to the pupil of the eye is seen by that
pupil and that which is opposite to the eye is seen by the pupil.

Refraction of the rays falling upon the eye (74. 75)


The lines sent forth by the image of an object to the eye do not
reach the point within the eye in straight lines.


If the judgment of the eye is situated within it, the straight lines
of the images are refracted on its surface because they pass through
the rarer to the denser medium. If, when you are under water, you
look at objects in the air you will see them out of their true
place; and the same with objects under water seen from the air.

The intersection of the rays (76-82).


The inversion of the images.

All the images of objects which pass through a window [glass pane]
from the free outer air to the air confined within walls, are seen
on the opposite side; and an object which moves in the outer air
from east to west will seem in its shadow, on the wall which is
lighted by this confined air, to have an opposite motion.



What difference is there in the way in which images pass through
narrow openings and through large openings, or in those which pass
by the sides of shaded bodies? By moving the edges of the opening
through which the images are admitted, the images of immovable
objects are made to move. And this happens, as is shown in the 9th
which demonstrates: [Footnote 11: per la 9a che dicie. When
Leonardo refers thus to a number it serves to indicate marginal
diagrams; this can in some instances be distinctly proved. The ninth
sketch on the page W. L. 145 b corresponds to the middle sketch of
the three reproduced.] the images of any object are all everywhere,
and all in each part of the surrounding air. It follows that if one
of the edges of the hole by which the images are admitted to a dark
chamber is moved it cuts off those rays of the image that were in
contact with it and gets nearer to other rays which previously were
remote from it &c.


If you move the right side of the opening the image on the left will
move [being that] of the object which entered on the right side of
the opening; and the same result will happen with all the other
sides of the opening. This can be proved by the 2nd of this which
shows: all the rays which convey the images of objects through the
air are straight lines. Hence, if the images of very large bodies
have to pass through very small holes, and beyond these holes
recover their large size, the lines must necessarily intersect.

[Footnote: 77. 2. In the first of the three diagrams Leonardo had
drawn only one of the two margins, et m.]


Necessity has provided that all the images of objects in front of
the eye shall intersect in two places. One of these intersections is
in the pupil, the other in the crystalline lens; and if this were
not the case the eye could not see so great a number of objects as
it does. This can be proved, since all the lines which intersect do
so in a point. Because nothing is seen of objects excepting their
surface; and their edges are lines, in contradistinction to the
definition of a surface. And each minute part of a line is equal to
a point; for smallest is said of that than which nothing can be
smaller, and this definition is equivalent to the definition of the
point. Hence it is possible for the whole circumference of a circle
to transmit its image to the point of intersection, as is shown in
the 4th of this which shows: all the smallest parts of the images
cross each other without interfering with each other. These
demonstrations are to illustrate the eye. No image, even of the
smallest object, enters the eye without being turned upside down;
but as it penetrates into the crystalline lens it is once more
reversed and thus the image is restored to the same position within
the eye as that of the object outside the eye.



Only one line of the image, of all those that reach the visual
virtue, has no intersection; and this has no sensible dimensions
because it is a mathematical line which originates from a
mathematical point, which has no dimensions.

According to my adversary, necessity requires that the central line
of every image that enters by small and narrow openings into a dark
chamber shall be turned upside down, together with the images of the
bodies that surround it.



It is impossible that the line should intersect itself; that is,
that its right should cross over to its left side, and so, its left
side become its right side. Because such an intersection demands two
lines, one from each side; for there can be no motion from right to
left or from left to right in itself without such extension and
thickness as admit of such motion. And if there is extension it is
no longer a line but a surface, and we are investigating the
properties of a line, and not of a surface. And as the line, having
no centre of thickness cannot be divided, we must conclude that the
line can have no sides to intersect each other. This is proved by
the movement of the line a f to a b and of the line e b to e
, which are the sides of the surface a f e b. But if you move
the line a b and the line e f, with the frontends a e, to the
spot c, you will have moved the opposite ends f b towards each
other at the point d. And from the two lines you will have drawn
the straight line c d which cuts the middle of the intersection of
these two lines at the point n without any intersection. For, you
imagine these two lines as having breadth, it is evident that by
this motion the first will entirely cover the other–being equal
with it–without any intersection, in the position c d. And this
is sufficient to prove our proposition.



Just as all lines can meet at a point without interfering with each
other–being without breadth or thickness–in the same way all the
images of surfaces can meet there; and as each given point faces the
object opposite to it and each object faces an opposite point, the
converging rays of the image can pass through the point and diverge
again beyond it to reproduce and re-magnify the real size of that
image. But their impressions will appear reversed–as is shown in
the first, above; where it is said that every image intersects as it
enters the narrow openings made in a very thin substance.

Read the marginal text on the other side.

In proportion as the opening is smaller than the shaded body, so
much less will the images transmitted through this opening intersect
each other. The sides of images which pass through openings into a
dark room intersect at a point which is nearer to the opening in
proportion as the opening is narrower. To prove this let a b be an
object in light and shade which sends not its shadow but the image
of its darkened form through the opening d e which is as wide as
this shaded body; and its sides a b, being straight lines (as has
been proved) must intersect between the shaded object and the
opening; but nearer to the opening in proportion as it is smaller
than the object in shade. As is shown, on your right hand and your
left hand, in the two diagrams a b c n m o where, the
right opening d e, being equal in width to the shaded object a
b, the intersection of the sides of the said shaded object occurs
half way between the opening and the shaded object at the point c.
But this cannot happen in the left hand figure, the opening o
being much smaller than the shaded object n m.

It is impossible that the images of objects should be seen between
the objects and the openings through which the images of these
bodies are admitted; and this is plain, because where the atmosphere
is illuminated these images are not formed visibly.

When the images are made double by mutually crossing each other they
are invariably doubly as dark in tone. To prove this let d e h
be such a doubling which although it is only seen within the space
between the bodies in b and i this will not hinder its being
seen from f g or from f m; being composed of the images a
b i k which run together in d e h.

[Footnote: 81. On the original diagram at the beginning of this
chapter Leonardo has written “azurro” (blue) where in the
facsimile I have marked A, and “giallo” (yellow) where B

[Footnote: 15–23. These lines stand between the diagrams I and III.]

[Footnote: 24–53. These lines stand between the diagrams I and II.]

[Footnote: 54–97 are written along the left side of diagram I.]


An experiment showing that though the pupil may not be moved from
its position the objects seen by it may appear to move from their

If you look at an object at some distance from you and which is
below the eye, and fix both your eyes upon it and with one hand
firmly hold the upper lid open while with the other you push up the
under lid–still keeping your eyes fixed on the object gazed at–you
will see that object double; one [image] remaining steady, and the
other moving in a contrary direction to the pressure of your finger
on the lower eyelid. How false the opinion is of those who say that
this happens because the pupil of the eye is displaced from its

How the above mentioned facts prove that the pupil acts upside down
in seeing.

[Footnote: 82. 14–17. The subject indicated by these two headings is
fully discussed in the two chapters that follow them in the
original; but it did not seem to me appropriate to include them

Demostration of perspective by means of a vertical glass plane



Perspective is nothing else than seeing place [or objects] behind a
plane of glass, quite transparent, on the surface of which the
objects behind that glass are to be drawn. These can be traced in
pyramids to the point in the eye, and these pyramids are intersected
on the glass plane.


Pictorial perspective can never make an object at the same distance,
look of the same size as it appears to the eye. You see that the
apex of the pyramid f c d is as far from the object c d as the
same point f is from the object a b; and yet c d, which is
the base made by the painter’s point, is smaller than a b which
is the base of the lines from the objects converging in the eye and
refracted at s t, the surface of the eye. This may be proved by
experiment, by the lines of vision and then by the lines of the
painter’s plumbline by cutting the real lines of vision on one and
the same plane and measuring on it one and the same object.



The vertical plane is a perpendicular line, imagined as in front of
the central point where the apex of the pyramids converge. And this
plane bears the same relation to this point as a plane of glass
would, through which you might see the various objects and draw them
on it. And the objects thus drawn would be smaller than the
originals, in proportion as the distance between the glass and the
eye was smaller than that between the glass and the objects.


The different converging pyramids produced by the objects, will
show, on the plane, the various sizes and remoteness of the objects
causing them.


All those horizontal planes of which the extremes are met by
perpendicular lines forming right angles, if they are of equal width
the more they rise to the level of eye the less this is seen, and
the more the eye is above them the more will their real width be


The farther a spherical body is from the eye the more you will see
of it.

The angle of sight varies with the distance (86-88)


A simple and natural method; showing how objects appear to the eye
without any other medium.

The object that is nearest to the eye always seems larger than
another of the same size at greater distance. The eye m, seeing
the spaces o v x, hardly detects the difference between them, and
the. reason of this is that it is close to them [Footnote 6: It is
quite inconceivable to me why M. RAVAISSON, in a note to his French
translation of this simple passage should have remarked: Il est
clair que c’est par erreur que Leonard a ècrit
per esser visino au
lieu de
per non esser visino. (See his printed ed. of MS. A. p.
38.)]; but if these spaces are marked on the vertical plane n o
the space o v will be seen at o r, and in the same way the space
v x will appear at r q. And if you carry this out in any place
where you can walk round, it will look out of proportion by reason
of the great difference in the spaces o r and r q. And this
proceeds from the eye being so much below [near] the plane that the
plane is foreshortened. Hence, if you wanted to carry it out, you
would have [to arrange] to see the perspective through a single hole
which must be at the point m, or else you must go to a distance of
at least 3 times the height of the object you see. The plane o p
being always equally remote from the eye will reproduce the objects
in a satisfactory way, so that they may be seen from place to place.


How every large mass sends forth its images, which may diminish
through infinity.

The images of any large mass being infinitely divisible may be
infinitely diminished.


Objects of equal size, situated in various places, will be seen by
different pyramids which will each be smaller in proportion as the
object is farther off.


Perspective, in dealing with distances, makes use of two opposite
pyramids, one of which has its apex in the eye and the base as
distant as the horizon. The other has the base towards the eye and
the apex on the horizon. Now, the first includes the [visible]
universe, embracing all the mass of the objects that lie in front of
the eye; as it might be a vast landscape seen through a very small
opening; for the more remote the objects are from the eye, the
greater number can be seen through the opening, and thus the pyramid
is constructed with the base on the horizon and the apex in the eye,
as has been said. The second pyramid is extended to a spot which is
smaller in proportion as it is farther from the eye; and this second
perspective [= pyramid] results from the first.



Simple perspective is that which is constructed by art on a vertical
plane which is equally distant from the eye in every part. Complex
perspective is that which is constructed on a ground-plan in which
none of the parts are equally distant from the eye.



No surface can be seen exactly as it is, if the eye that sees it is
not equally remote from all its edges.



When an object opposite the eye is brought too close to it, its
edges must become too confused to be distinguished; as it happens
with objects close to a light, which cast a large and indistinct
shadow, so is it with an eye which estimates objects opposite to it;
in all cases of linear perspective, the eye acts in the same way as
the light. And the reason is that the eye has one leading line (of
vision) which dilates with distance and embraces with true
discernment large objects at a distance as well as small ones that
are close. But since the eye sends out a multitude of lines which
surround this chief central one and since these which are farthest
from the centre in this cone of lines are less able to discern with
accuracy, it follows that an object brought close to the eye is not
at a due distance, but is too near for the central line to be able
to discern the outlines of the object. So the edges fall within the
lines of weaker discerning power, and these are to the function of
the eye like dogs in the chase which can put up the game but cannot
take it. Thus these cannot take in the objects, but induce the
central line of sight to turn upon them, when they have put them up.
Hence the objects which are seen with these lines of sight have
confused outlines.

The relative size of objects with regard to their distance from the
eye (93-98).



Small objects close at hand and large ones at a distance, being seen
within equal angles, will appear of the same size.



There is no object so large but that at a great distance from the
eye it does not appear smaller than a smaller object near.


Among objects of equal size that which is most remote from the eye
will look the smallest. [Footnote: This axiom, sufficiently clear in
itself, is in the original illustrated by a very large diagram,
constructed like that here reproduced under No. 108.

The same idea is repeated in C. A. I a; I a, stated as follows:
Infra le cose d’equal grandeza quella si dimostra di minor figura
che sara più distante dall’ ochio


Why an object is less distinct when brought near to the eye, and why
with spectacles, or without the naked eye sees badly either close or
far off [as the case may be].



Among objects of equal size, that which is most remote from the eye
will look the smallest.



No second object can be so much lower than the first as that the eye
will not see it higher than the first, if the eye is above the


And this second object will never be so much higher than the first
as that the eye, being below them, will not see the second as lower
than the first.


If the eye sees a second square through the centre of a smaller one,
that is nearer, the second, larger square will appear to be
surrounded by the smaller one.


Objects that are farther off can never be so large but that those in
front, though smaller, will conceal or surround them.


This proposition can be proved by experiment. For if you look
through a small hole there is nothing so large that it cannot be
seen through it and the object so seen appears surrounded and
enclosed by the outline of the sides of the hole. And if you stop it
up, this small stopping will conceal the view of the largest object.

The apparent size of objects defined by calculation (99-105)



Linear Perspective deals with the action of the lines of sight, in
proving by measurement how much smaller is a second object than the
first, and how much the third is smaller than the second; and so on
by degrees to the end of things visible. I find by experience that
if a second object is as far beyond the first as the first is from
the eye, although they are of the same size, the second will seem
half the size of the first and if the third object is of the same
size as the 2nd, and the 3rd is as far beyond the second as the 2nd
from the first, it will appear of half the size of the second; and
so on by degrees, at equal distances, the next farthest will be half
the size of the former object. So long as the space does not exceed
the length of 20 braccia. But, beyond 20 braccia figures of equal
size will lose 2/4 and at 40 braccia they will lose 9/10, and 19/20
at 60 braccia, and so on diminishing by degrees. This is if the
picture plane is distant from you twice your own height. If it is
only as far off as your own height, there will be a great difference
between the first braccia and the second.

[Footnote: This chapter is included in DUFRESNE’S and MANZI’S
editions of the Treatise on Painting. H. LUDWIG, in his commentary,
calls this chapter “eines der wichtigsten im ganzen Tractat“, but
at the same time he asserts that its substance has been so
completely disfigured in the best MS. copies that we ought not to
regard Leonardo as responsible for it. However, in the case of this
chapter, the old MS. copies agree with the original as it is
reproduced above. From the chapters given later in this edition,
which were written at a subsequent date, it would appear that
Leonardo corrected himself on these points.]



A second object as far distant from the first as the first is from
the eye will appear half the size of the first, though they be of
the same size really.


If you place the vertical plane at one braccio from the eye, the
first object, being at a distance of 4 braccia from your eye will
diminish to 3/4 of its height at that plane; and if it is 8 braccia
from the eye, to 7/8; and if it is 16 braccia off, it will diminish
to 15/16 of its height and so on by degrees, as the space doubles
the diminution will double.


Begin from the line m f with the eye below; then go up and do the
same with the line n f, then with the eye above and close to the 2
gauges on the ground look at m n; then as c m is to m n so
will n m be to n s.

If a n goes 3 times into f b, m p will do the same into p g.
Then go backwards so far as that c d goes twice into a n and p
will be equal to g h. And m p will go into h p as often as
d c into o p.

[Footnote: The first three lines are unfortunately very obscure.]



Although the objects seen by the eye do, in fact, touch each other
as they recede, I will nevertheless found my rule on spaces of 20
braccia each; as a musician does with notes, which, though they can
be carried on one into the next, he divides into degrees from note
to note calling them 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th; and has affixed a name
to each degree in raising or lowering the voice.



Let f be the level and distance of the eye; and a the vertical
plane, as high as a man; let e be a man, then I say that on the
plane this will be the distance from the plane to the 2nd man.


The differences in the diminution of objects of equal size in
consequence of their various remoteness from the eye will bear among
themselves the same proportions as those of the spaces between the
eye and the different objects.

Find out how much a man diminishes at a certain distance and what
its length is; and then at twice that distance and at 3 times, and
so make your general rule.


The eye cannot judge where an object high up ought to descend.



If two similar and equal objects are placed one beyond the other at
a given distance the difference in their size will appear greater in
proportion as they are nearer to the eye that sees them. And
conversely there will seem to be less difference in their size in
proportion as they are remote from the eve.

This is proved by the proportions of their distances among
themselves; for, if the first of these two objects were as far from
the eye, as the 2nd from the first this would be called the second
proportion: since, if the first is at 1 braccia from the eye and the
2nd at two braccia, two being twice as much as one, the first object
will look twice as large as the second. But if you place the first
at a hundred braccia from you and the second at a hundred and one,
you will find that the first is only so much larger than the second
as 100 is less than 101; and the converse is equally true. And
again, the same thing is proved by the 4th of this book which shows
that among objects that are equal, there is the same proportion in
the diminution of the size as in the increase in the distance from
the eye of the spectator.

On natural perspective (107–109).



The practice of perspective may be divided into … parts [Footnote
4: inparte. The space for the number is left blank in the
original.], of which the first treats of objects seen by the eye at
any distance; and it shows all these objects just as the eye sees
them diminished, without obliging a man to stand in one place rather
than another so long as the plane does not produce a second

But the second practice is a combination of perspective derived
partly from art and partly from nature and the work done by its
rules is in every portion of it, influenced by natural perspective
and artificial perspective. By natural perspective I mean that the
plane on which this perspective is represented is a flat surface,
and this plane, although it is parallel both in length and height,
is forced to diminish in its remoter parts more than in its nearer
ones. And this is proved by the first of what has been said above,
and its diminution is natural. But artificial perspective, that is
that which is devised by art, does the contrary; for objects equal
in size increase on the plane where it is foreshortened in
proportion as the eye is more natural and nearer to the plane, and
as the part of the plane on which it is figured is farther from the

And let this plane be d e on which are seen 3 equal circles which
are beyond this plane d e, that is the circles a b c. Now you
see that the eye h sees on the vertical plane the sections of the
images, largest of those that are farthest and smallest of the


Here follows what is wanting in the margin at the foot on the other
side of this page.

Natural perspective acts in a contrary way; for, at greater
distances the object seen appears smaller, and at a smaller distance
the object appears larger. But this said invention requires the
spectator to stand with his eye at a small hole and then, at that
small hole, it will be very plain. But since many (men’s) eyes
endeavour at the same time to see one and the same picture produced
by this artifice only one can see clearly the effect of this
perspective and all the others will see confusion. It is well
therefore to avoid such complex perspective and hold to simple
perspective which does not regard planes as foreshortened, but as
much as possible in their proper form. This simple perspective, in
which the plane intersects the pyramids by which the images are
conveyed to the eye at an equal distance from the eye is our
constant experience, from the curved form of the pupil of the eye on
which the pyramids are intersected at an equal distance from the
visual virtue.

[Footnote 24: la prima di sopra i. e. the first of the three
diagrams which, in the original MS., are placed in the margin at the
beginning of this chapter.]



This diagram distinguishes natural from artificial perspective. But
before proceeding any farther I will define what is natural and what
is artificial perspective. Natural perspective says that the more
remote of a series of objects of equal size will look the smaller,
and conversely, the nearer will look the larger and the apparent
size will diminish in proportion to the distance. But in artificial
perspective when objects of unequal size are placed at various
distances, the smallest is nearer to the eye than the largest and
the greatest distance looks as though it were the least of all; and
the cause of this is the plane on which the objects are represented;
and which is at unequal distances from the eye throughout its
length. And this diminution of the plane is natural, but the
perspective shown upon it is artificial since it nowhere agrees with
the true diminution of the said plane. Whence it follows, that when
the eye is somewhat removed from the [station point of the]
perspective that it has been gazing at, all the objects represented
look monstrous, and this does not occur in natural perspective,
which has been defined above. Let us say then, that the square a b
c d
figured above is foreshortened being seen by the eye situated
in the centre of the side which is in front. But a mixture of
artificial and natural perspective will be seen in this tetragon
called el main [Footnote 20: el main is quite legibly written in
the original; the meaning and derivation of the word are equally
doubtful.], that is to say e f g h which must appear to the eye of
the spectator to be equal to a b c d so long as the eye remains in
its first position between c and d. And this will be seen to
have a good effect, because the natural perspective of the plane
will conceal the defects which would [otherwise] seem monstrous.


Six books on Light and Shade.

Linear Perspective cannot be immediately followed by either the
“prospettiva de’ perdimenti” or the “prospettiva de’ colori” or
the aerial perspective; since these branches of the subject
presuppose a knowledge of the principles of Light and Shade. No
apology, therefore, is here needed for placing these immediately
after Linear Perspective.

We have various plans suggested by Leonardo for the arrangement of
the mass of materials treating of this subject. Among these I have
given the preference to a scheme propounded in No.
III, because,
in all probability, we have here a final and definite purpose
expressed. Several authors have expressed it as their opinion that
the Paris Manuscript
C is a complete and finished treatise on
Light and Shade. Certainly, the Principles of Light and Shade form
by far the larger portion of this MS. which consists of two separate
parts; still, the materials are far from being finally arranged. It
is also evident that he here investigates the subject from the point
of view of the Physicist rather than from that of the Painter.

The plan of a scheme of arrangement suggested in No. III and
adopted by me has been strictly adhered to for the first four Books.
For the three last, however, few materials have come down to us; and
it must be admitted that these three Books would find a far more
appropriate place in a work on Physics than in a treatise on
Painting. For this reason I have collected in Book V all the
chapters on Reflections, and in Book VI I have put together and
arranged all the sections of MS.
C that belong to the book on
Painting, so far as they relate to Light and Shade, while the
sections of the same MS. which treat of the
“Prospettiva de’
perdimenti” have, of course, been excluded from the series on Light
and Shade.

[Footnote III: This text has already been published with some slight
variations in Dozio’s pamphlet Degli scritti e disegni di Leonardo
da Vinci
, Milan 1871, pp. 30–31. Dozio did not transcribe it from
the original MS. which seems to have remained unknown to him, but
from an old copy (MS. H. 227 in the Ambrosian Library).]




You must first explain the theory and then the practice. First you
must describe the shadows and lights on opaque objects, and then on
transparent bodies.

Scheme of the books on Light and shade.



[Having already treated of the nature of shadows and the way in
which they are cast [Footnote 2: Avendo io tractato.–We may
suppose that he here refers to some particular MS., possibly Paris
C.], I will now consider the places on which they fall; and their
curvature, obliquity, flatness or, in short, any character I may be
able to detect in them.]

Shadow is the obstruction of light. Shadows appear to me to be of
supreme importance in perspective, because, without them opaque and
solid bodies will be ill defined; that which is contained within
their outlines and their boundaries themselves will be
ill-understood unless they are shown against a background of a
different tone from themselves. And therefore in my first
proposition concerning shadow I state that every opaque body is
surrounded and its whole surface enveloped in shadow and light. And
on this proposition I build up the first Book. Besides this, shadows
have in themselves various degrees of darkness, because they are
caused by the absence of a variable amount of the luminous rays; and
these I call Primary shadows because they are the first, and
inseparable from the object to which they belong. And on this I will
found my second Book. From these primary shadows there result
certain shaded rays which are diffused through the atmosphere and
these vary in character according to that of the primary shadows
whence they are derived. I shall therefore call these shadows
Derived shadows because they are produced by other shadows; and the
third Book will treat of these. Again these derived shadows, where
they are intercepted by various objects, produce effects as various
as the places where they are cast and of this I will treat in the
fourth Book. And since all round the derived shadows, where the
derived shadows are intercepted, there is always a space where the
light falls and by reflected dispersion is thrown back towards its
cause, it meets the original shadow and mingles with it and modifies
it somewhat in its nature; and on this I will compose my fifth Book.
Besides this, in the sixth Book I will investigate the many and
various diversities of reflections resulting from these rays which
will modify the original [shadow] by [imparting] some of the various
colours from the different objects whence these reflected rays are
derived. Again, the seventh Book will treat of the various distances
that may exist between the spot where the reflected rays fall and
that where they originate, and the various shades of colour which
they will acquire in falling on opaque bodies.

Different principles and plans of treatment (112–116).


First I will treat of light falling through windows which I will
call Restricted [Light] and then I will treat of light in the open
country, to which I will give the name of diffused Light. Then I
will treat of the light of luminous bodies.



The conditions of shadow and light [as seen] by the eye are 3. Of
these the first is when the eye and the light are on the same side
of the object seen; the 2nd is when the eye is in front of the
object and the light is behind it. The 3rd is when the eye is in
front of the object and the light is on one side, in such a way as
that a line drawn from the object to the eye and one from the object
to the light should form a right angle where they meet.



This is another section: that is, of the nature of a reflection
(from) an object placed between the eye and the light under various



As regards all visible objects 3 things must be considered. These
are the position of the eye which sees: that of the object seen
[with regard] to the light, and the position of the light which
illuminates the object, b is the eye, a the object seen, c the
light, a is the eye, b the illuminating body, c is the
illuminated object.


Let a be the light, b the eye, c the object seen by the eye
and in the light. These show, first, the eye between the light and
the body; the 2nd, the light between the eye and the body; the 3rd
the body between the eye and the light, a is the eye, b the
illuminated object, c the light.




The first kind of Light which may illuminate opaque bodies is called
Direct light–as that of the sun or any other light from a window or
flame. The second is Diffused [universal] light, such as we see in
cloudy weather or in mist and the like. The 3rd is Subdued light,
that is when the sun is entirely below the horizon, either in the
evening or morning.



The lights which may illuminate opaque bodies are of 4 kinds. These
are: diffused light as that of the atmosphere, within our horizon.
And Direct, as that of the sun, or of a window or door or other
opening. The third is Reflected light; and there is a 4th which is
that which passes through [semi] transparent bodies, as linen or
paper or the like, but not transparent like glass, or crystal, or
other diaphanous bodies, which produce the same effect as though
nothing intervened between the shaded object and the light that
falls upon it; and this we will discuss fully in our discourse.

Definition of the nature of shadows (119–122).



Shadow is the absence of light, merely the obstruction of the
luminous rays by an opaque body. Shadow is of the nature of
darkness. Light [on an object] is of the nature of a luminous body;
one conceals and the other reveals. They are always associated and
inseparable from all objects. But shadow is a more powerful agent
than light, for it can impede and entirely deprive bodies of their
light, while light can never entirely expel shadow from a body, that
is from an opaque body.


Shadow is the diminution of light by the intervention of an opaque
body. Shadow is the counterpart of the luminous rays which are cut
off by an opaque body.

This is proved because the shadow cast is the same in shape and size
as the luminous rays were which are transformed into a shadow.


Shadow is the diminution alike of light and of darkness, and stands
between darkness and light.

A shadow may be infinitely dark, and also of infinite degrees of
absence of darkness.

The beginnings and ends of shadow lie between the light and darkness
and may be infinitely diminished and infinitely increased. Shadow is
the means by which bodies display their form.

The forms of bodies could not be understood in detail but for



Shadow partakes of the nature of universal matter. All such matters
are more powerful in their beginning and grow weaker towards the
end, I say at the beginning, whatever their form or condition may be
and whether visible or invisible. And it is not from small
beginnings that they grow to a great size in time; as it might be a
great oak which has a feeble beginning from a small acorn. Yet I may
say that the oak is most powerful at its beginning, that is where it
springs from the earth, which is where it is largest (To return:)
Darkness, then, is the strongest degree of shadow and light is its
least. Therefore, O Painter, make your shadow darkest close to the
object that casts it, and make the end of it fading into light,
seeming to have no end.

Of the various kinds of shadows. (123-125).


Darkness is absence of light. Shadow is diminution of light.
Primitive shadow is that which is inseparable from a body not in the
light. Derived shadow is that which is disengaged from a body in
shadow and pervades the air. A cast transparent shadow is that which
is surrounded by an illuminated surface. A simple shadow is one
which receives no light from the luminous body which causes it. A
simple shadow begins within the line which starts from the edge of
the luminous body a b.


A simple shadow is one where no light at all interferes with it.

A compound shadow is one which is somewhat illuminated by one or
more lights.



An inseparable shadow is that which is never absent from the
illuminated body. As, for instance a ball, which so long as it is in
the light always has one side in shadow which never leaves it for
any movement or change of position in the ball. A separate shadow
may be and may not be produced by the body itself. Suppose the ball
to be one braccia distant from a wall with a light on the opposite
side of it; this light will throw upon the wall exactly as broad a
shadow as is to be seen on the side of the ball that is turned
towards the wall. That portion of the cast shadow will not be
visible when the light is below the ball and the shadow is thrown up
towards the sky and finding no obstruction on its way is lost.



Of the various kinds of light (126, 127).

Separate light is that which falls upon the body. Inseparable light
is the side of the body that is illuminated by that light. One is
called primary, the other derived. And, in the same way there are
two kinds of shadow:–One primary and the other derived. The primary
is that which is inseparable from the body, the derived is that
which proceeds from the body conveying to the surface of the wall
the form of the body causing it.


How there are 2 different kinds of light; one being called diffused,
the other restricted. The diffused is that which freely illuminates
objects. The restricted is that which being admitted through an
opening or window illuminates them on that side only.

[Footnote: At the spot marked A in the first diagram Leonardo
wrote lume costretto (restricted light). At the spot B on the
second diagram he wrote lume libero (diffused light).]

General remarks (128. 129).


Light is the chaser away of darkness. Shade is the obstruction of
light. Primary light is that which falls on objects and causes light
and shade. And derived lights are those portions of a body which are
illuminated by the primary light. A primary shadow is that side of a
body on which the light cannot fall.

The general distribution of shadow and light is that sum total of
the rays thrown off by a shaded or illuminated body passing through
the air without any interference and the spot which intercepts and
cuts off the distribution of the dark and light rays.

And the eye can best distinguish the forms of objects when it is
placed between the shaded and the illuminated parts.



I ask to have this much granted me–to assert that every ray
passing through air of equal density throughout, travels in a
straight line from its cause to the object or place it falls upon.


On the nature of light (130. 131).


The reason by which we know that a light radiates from a single
centre is this: We plainly see that a large light is often much
broader than some small object which nevertheless–and although the
rays [of the large light] are much more than twice the extent [of
the small body]–always has its shadow cast on the nearest surface
very visibly. Let c f be a broad light and n be the object in
front of it, casting a shadow on the plane, and let a b be the
plane. It is clear that it is not the broad light that will cast the
shadow n on the plane, but that the light has within it a centre
is shown by this experiment. The shadow falls on the plane as is
shown at m o t r.

[Footnote 13: In the original MS. no explanatory text is placed
after this title-line; but a space is left for it and the text
beginning at line 15 comes next.] Why, to two [eyes] or in front of
two eyes do 3 objects appear as two?

Why, when you estimate the direction of an object with two sights
the nearer appears confused. I say that the eye projects an infinite
number of lines which mingle or join those reaching it which come to
it from the object looked at. And it is only the central and
sensible line that can discern and discriminate colours and objects;
all the others are false and illusory. And if you place 2 objects at
half an arm’s length apart if the nearer of the two is close to the
eye its form will remain far more confused than that of the second;
the reason is that the first is overcome by a greater number of
false lines than the second and so is rendered vague.

Light acts in the same manner, for in the effects of its lines
(=rays), and particularly in perspective, it much resembles the eye;
and its central rays are what cast the true shadow. When the object
in front of it is too quickly overcome with dim rays it will cast a
broad and disproportionate shadow, ill defined; but when the object
which is to cast the shadow and cuts off the rays near to the place
where the shadow falls, then the shadow is distinct; and the more so
in proportion as the light is far off, because at a long distance
the central ray is less overcome by false rays; because the lines
from the eye and the solar and other luminous rays passing through
the atmosphere are obliged to travel in straight lines. Unless they
are deflected by a denser or rarer air, when they will be bent at
some point, but so long as the air is free from grossness or
moisture they will preserve their direct course, always carrying the
image of the object that intercepts them back to their point of
origin. And if this is the eye, the intercepting object will be seen
by its colour, as well as by form and size. But if the intercepting
plane has in it some small perforation opening into a darker
chamber–not darker in colour, but by absence of light–you will see
the rays enter through this hole and transmitting to the plane
beyond all the details of the object they proceed from both as to
colour and form; only every thing will be upside down. But the size
[of the image] where the lines are reconstructed will be in
proportion to the relative distance of the aperture from the plane
on which the lines fall [on one hand] and from their origin [on the
other]. There they intersect and form 2 pyramids with their point
meeting [a common apex] and their bases opposite. Let a b be the
point of origin of the lines, d e the first plane, and c the
aperture with the intersection of the lines; f g is the inner
plane. You will find that a falls upon the inner plane below at
g, and b which is below will go up to the spot f; it will be
quite evident to experimenters that every luminous body has in
itself a core or centre, from which and to which all the lines
radiate which are sent forth by the surface of the luminous body and
reflected back to it; or which, having been thrown out and not
intercepted, are dispersed in the air.



Although the points of luminous pyramids may extend into shaded
places and those of pyramids of shadow into illuminated places, and
though among the luminous pyramids one may start from a broader base
than another; nevertheless, if by reason of their various length
these luminous pyramids acquire angles of equal size their light
will be equal; and the case will be the same with the pyramids of
shadow; as may be seen in the intersected pyramids a b c and d e
, which though their bases differ in size are equal as to breadth
and light.

[Footnote: 51–55: This supplementary paragraph is indicated as being
a continuation of line 45, by two small crosses.]

The difference between light and lustre (132–135).


Of the difference between light and lustre; and that lustre is not
included among colours, but is saturation of whiteness, and derived
from the surface of wet bodies; light partakes of the colour of the
object which reflects it (to the eye) as gold or silver or the like.



Suppose the body to be the round object figured here and let the
light be at the point a, and let the illuminated side of the
object be b c and the eye at the point d: I say that, as lustre
is every where and complete in each part, if you stand at the point
d the lustre will appear at c, and in proportion as the eye
moves from d to a, the lustre will move from c to n.



Heigh light or lustre on any object is not situated [necessarily] in
the middle of an illuminated object, but moves as and where the eye
moves in looking at it.



What is the difference between light and the lustre which is seen on
the polished surface of opaque bodies?

The lights which are produced from the polished surface of opaque
bodies will be stationary on stationary objects even if the eye on
which they strike moves. But reflected lights will, on those same
objects, appear in as many different places on the surface as
different positions are taken by the eye.


Opaque bodies which have a hard and rough surface never display any
lustre in any portion of the side on which the light falls.


Those bodies which are opaque and hard with a hard surface reflect
light [lustre] from every spot on the illuminated side which is in a
position to receive light at the same angle of incidence as they
occupy with regard to the eye; but, as the surface mirrors all the
surrounding objects, the illuminated [body] is not recognisable in
these portions of the illuminated body.


The relations of luminous to illuminated bodies.

The middle of the light and shade on an object in light and shade is
opposite to the middle of the primary light. All light and shadow
expresses itself in pyramidal lines. The middle of the shadow on any
object must necessarily be opposite the middle of its light, with a
direct line passing through the centre of the body. The middle of
the light will be at a, that of the shadow at b. [Again, in
bodies shown in light and shade the middle of each must coincide
with the centre of the body, and a straight line will pass through
both and through that centre.]

[Footnote: In the original MS., at the spot marked a of the first
diagram Leonardo wrote primitiuo, and at the spot marked
cprimitiva (primary); at the spot marked b he wrote
dirivatiuo and at d deriuatiua (derived).]

Experiments on the relation of light and shadow within a room



Although the balls a b c are lighted from one window,
nevertheless, if you follow the lines of their shadows you will see
they intersect at a point forming the angle n.

[Footnote: The diagram belonging to this passage is slightly
sketched on Pl. XXXII; a square with three balls below it. The first
three lines of the text belonging to it are written above the sketch
and the six others below it.]


Every shadow cast by a body has a central line directed to a single
point produced by the intersection of luminous lines in the middle
of the opening and thickness of the window. The proposition stated
above, is plainly seen by experiment. Thus if you draw a place with
a window looking northwards, and let this be s f, you will see a
line starting from the horizon to the east, which, touching the 2
angles of the window o f, reaches d; and from the horizon on the
west another line, touching the other 2 angles r s, and ending at
c; and their intersection falls exactly in the middle of the
opening and thickness of the window. Again, you can still better
confirm this proof by placing two sticks, as shown at g h; and you
will see the line drawn from the centre of the shadow directed to
the centre m and prolonged to the horizon n f.

[Footnote: B here stands for cerchio del’ orizonte tramontano on
the original diagram (the circle of the horizon towards the North);
A for levante (East) and C for ponete (West).]


Every shadow with all its variations, which becomes larger as its
distance from the object is greater, has its external lines
intersecting in the middle, between the light and the object. This
proposition is very evident and is confirmed by experience. For, if
a b is a window without any object interposed, the luminous
atmosphere to the right hand at a is seen to the left at d. And
the atmosphere at the left illuminates on the right at c, and the
lines intersect at the point m.

[Footnote: A here stands for levante (East), B for ponente


Every body in light and shade is situated between 2 pyramids one
dark and the other luminous, one is visible the other is not. But
this only happens when the light enters by a window. Supposing a b
to be the window and r the body in light and shade, the light to
the right hand z will pass the object to the left and go on to
p; the light to the left at k will pass to the right of the
object at i and go on to m and the two lines will intersect at
c and form a pyramid. Then again a b falls on the shaded body
at i g and forms a pyramid f i g. f will be dark because
the light a b can never fall there; i g c will be
illuminated because the light falls upon it.

Light and shadow with regard to the position of the eye (141–145).


Every shaded body that is larger than the pupil and that interposes
between the luminous body and the eye will be seen dark.

When the eye is placed between the luminous body and the objects
illuminated by it, these objects will be seen without any shadow.

[Footnote: The diagram which in the original stands above line 1 is
given on Plate II, No 2. Then, after a blank space of about eight
lines, the diagram Plate II No 3 is placed in the original. There is
no explanation of it beyond the one line written under it.]


Why the 2 lights one on each side of a body having two pyramidal
sides of an obtuse apex leave it devoid of shadow.

[Footnote: The sketch illustrating this is on Plate XLI No 1.]


A body in shadow situated between the light and the eye can never
display its illuminated portion unless the eye can see the whole of
the primary light.

[Footnote: A stands for corpo (body), B for lume (light).]


The eye which looks (at a spot) half way between the shadow and the
light which surrounds the body in shadow will see that the deepest
shadows on that body will meet the eye at equal angles, that is at
the same angle as that of sight.

[Footnote: In both these diagrams A stands for lume (light) B
for ombra (shadow).]



If the sun is in the East and you look towards the West you will see
every thing in full light and totally without shadow because you see
them from the same side as the sun: and if you look towards the
South or North you will see all objects in light and shade, because
you see both the side towards the sun and the side away from it; and
if you look towards the coming of the sun all objects will show you
their shaded side, because on that side the sun cannot fall upon

The law of the incidence of light.


The edges of a window which are illuminated by 2 lights of equal
degrees of brightness will not reflect light of equal brightness
into the chamber within.

If b is a candle and a c our hemisphere both will illuminate the
edges of the window m n, but light b will only illuminate f
and the hemisphere a will light all of d e.



That part of a body which receives the luminous rays at equal angles
will be in a higher light than any other part of it.

And the part which the luminous rays strike between less equal
angles will be less strongly illuminated.


Gradations of strength in the shadows (148. 149).



That part of the object which is marked m is in the highest light
because it faces the window a d by the line a f; n is in the
second grade because the light b d strikes it by the line b e;
o is in the third grade, as the light falls on it from c d by
the line c h; p is the lowest light but one as c d falls on it
by the line d v; q is the deepest shadow for no light falls on
it from any part of the window.

In proportion as c d goes into a d so will n r s be darker
than m, and all the rest is space without shadow.

[Footnote: The diagram belonging to this chapter is No. 1 on Plate
III. The letters a b e d and r are not reproduced in facsimile
of the original, but have been replaced by ordinary type in the
margin. 5-12. The original text of these lines is reproduced within
the diagram.–Compare No 275.]


The light which falls on a shaded body at the acutest angle receives
the highest light, and the darkest portion is that which receives it
at an obtuse angle and both the light and the shadow form pyramids.
The angle c receives the highest grade of light because it is
directly in front of the window a b and the whole horizon of the
sky m x. The angle a differs but little from c because the
angles which divide it are not so unequal as those below, and only
that portion of the horizon is intercepted which lies between y
and x. Although it gains as much on the other side its line is
nevertheless not very strong because one angle is smaller than its
fellow. The angles e i will have less light because they do not
see much of the light m s and the light v x and their angles are
very unequal. Yhe angle k and the angle f are each placed
between very unequal angles and therefore have but little light,
because at k it has only the light p t, and at f only t q;
o g is the lowest grade of light because this part has no light at
all from the sky; and thence come the lines which will reconstruct a
pyramid that is the counterpart of the pyramid c; and this pyramid
l is in the first grade of shadow; for this too is placed between
equal angles directly opposite to each other on either side of a
straight line which passes through the centre of the body and goes
to the centre of the light. The several luminous images cast within
the frame of the window at the points a and b make a light which
surrounds the derived shadow cast by the solid body at the points 4
and 6. The shaded images increase from o g and end at 7 and 8.

[Footnote: The diagram belonging to this chapter is No. 2 on Plate
III. In the original it is placed between lines 3 and 4, and in the
reproduction these are shown in part. The semi circle above is
marked orizonte (horizon). The number 6 at the left hand side,
outside the facsimile, is in the place of a figure which has become
indistinct in the original.]

On the intensity of shadows as dependent on the distance from the
light (150-152).


The smaller the light that falls upon an object the more shadow it
will display. And the light will illuminate a smaller portion of the
object in proportion as it is nearer to it; and conversely, a larger
extent of it in proportion as it is farther off.

A light which is smaller than the object on which it falls will
light up a smaller extent of it in proportion as it is nearer to it,
and the converse, as it is farther from it. But when the light is
larger than the object illuminated it will light a larger extent of
the object in proportion as it is nearer and the converse when they
are farther apart.


That portion of an illuminated object which is nearest to the source
of light will be the most strongly illuminated.


That portion of the primary shadow will be least dark which is
farthest from the edges.

The derived shadow will be darker than the primary shadow where it
is contiguous with it.

On the proportion of light and shade (153-157).


That portion of an opaque body will be more in shade or more in
light, which is nearer to the dark body, by which it is shaded, or
to the light that illuminates it.

Objects seen in light and shade show in greater relief than those
which are wholly in light or in shadow.



The shaded and illuminated sides of opaque objects will display the
same proportion of light and darkness as their objects [Footnote 6:
The meaning of obbietti (objects) is explained in no 153, lines
1-4.–Between the title-line and the next there is, in the
original, a small diagram representing a circle described round a



The outlines and form of any part of a body in light and shade are
indistinct in the shadows and in the high lights; but in the
portions between the light and the shadows they are highly



Among objects in various degrees of shade, when the light proceeds
from a single source, there will be the same proportion in their
shadows as in the natural diminution of the light and the same must
be understood of the degrees of light.


A single and distinct luminous body causes stronger relief in the
object than a diffused light; as may be seen by comparing one side
of a landscape illuminated by the sun, and one overshadowed by
clouds, and so illuminated only by the diffused light of the


Definition of derived shadow (158. 159).


Derived shadow cannot exist without primary shadow. This is proved
by the first of this which says: Darkness is the total absence of
light, and shadow is an alleviation of darkness and of light, and it
is more or less dark or light in proportion as the darkness is
modified by the light.


Shadow is diminution of light.

Darkness is absence of light.

Shadow is divided into two kinds, of which the first is called
primary shadow, the second is derived shadow. The primary shadow is
always the basis of the derived shadow.

The edges of the derived shadow are straight lines.

[Footnote: The theory of the ombra dirivativa_–a technical
expression for which there is no precise English equivalent is
elaborately treated by Leonardo. But both text and diagrams (as Pl.
IV, 1-3 and Pl. V) must at once convince the student that the
distinction he makes between ombra primitiva and ombra
is not merely justifiable but scientific. Ombra
is by no means a mere abstract idea. This is easily
proved by repeating the experiment made by Leonardo, and by filling
with smoke the room in which the existence of the ombra dirivativa
is investigated, when the shadow becomes visible. Nor is it
difficult to perceive how much of Leonardo’s teaching depended on
this theory. The recognised, but extremely complicated science of
cast shadows–percussione dell’ ombre dirivative as Leonardo
calls them–is thus rendered more intelligible if not actually
simpler, and we must assume this theory as our chief guide through
the investigations which follow.]

The darkness of the derived shadow diminishes in proportion as it is
remote from the primary shadow.

Different sorts of derived shadows (160-162).



The forms of shadows are three: inasmuch as if the solid body which
casts the shadow is equal (in size) to the light, the shadow
resembles a column without any termination (in length). If the body
is larger than the light the shadow resembles a truncated and
inverted pyramid, and its length has also no defined termination.
But if the body is smaller than the light, the shadow will resemble
a pyramid and come to an end, as is seen in eclipses of the moon.



The simple derived shadow is of two kinds: one kind which has its
length defined, and two kinds which are undefined; and the defined
shadow is pyramidal. Of the two undefined, one is a column and the
other spreads out; and all three have rectilinear outlines. But the
converging, that is the pyramidal, shadow proceeds from a body that
is smaller than the light, and the columnar from a body equal in
size to the light, and the spreading shadow from a body larger than
the light; &c.


Compound derived shadows are of two kinds; that is columnar and



Derived shadows are of three kinds of which one is spreading, the
second columnar, the third converging to the point where the two
sides meet and intersect, and beyond this intersection the sides are
infinitely prolonged or straight lines. And if you say, this shadow
must terminate at the angle where the sides meet and extend no
farther, I deny this, because above in the first on shadow I have
proved: that a thing is completely terminated when no portion of it
goes beyond its terminating lines. Now here, in this shadow, we see
the converse of this, in as much as where this derived shadow
originates we obviously have the figures of two pyramids of shadow
which meet at their angles. Hence, if, as [my] opponent says, the
first pyramid of shadow terminates the derivative shadow at the
angle whence it starts, then the second pyramid of shadow–so says
the adversary–must be caused by the angle and not from the body in
shadow; and this is disproved with the help of the 2nd of this which
says: Shadow is a condition produced by a body casting a shadow, and
interposed between this shadow and the luminous body. By this it is
made clear that the shadow is not produced by the angle of the
derived shadow but only by the body casting the shadow; &c. If a
spherical solid body is illuminated by a light of elongated form the
shadow produced by the longest portion of this light will have less
defined outlines than that which is produced by the breadth of the
same light. And this is proved by what was said before, which is:
That a shadow will have less defined outlines in proportion as the
light which causes it is larger, and conversely, the outlines are
clearer in proportion as it is smaller.

[Footnote: The two diagrams to this chapter are on Plate IV, No. 1.]

On the relation of derived and primary shadow (163-165).


The derived shadow can never resemble the body from which it
proceeds unless the light is of the same form and size as the body
causing the shadow.

The derived shadow cannot be of the same form as the primary shadow
unless it is intercepted by a plane parallel to it.



If the rays of light proceed, as experience shows, from a single
point and are diffused in a sphere round this point, radiating and
dispersed through the air, the farther they spread the wider they
must spread; and an object placed between the light and a wall is
always imaged larger in its shadow, because the rays that strike it
[Footnote: 7. The following lines are wanting to complete the
logical connection.] would, by the time they have reached the wall,
have become larger.


Any shadow cast by a body in light and shade is of the same nature
and character as that which is inseparable from the body. The centre
of the length of a shadow always corresponds to that of the luminous
body [Footnote 6: This second statement of the same idea as in the
former sentence, but in different words, does not, in the original,
come next to the foregoing; sections 172 and 127 are placed between
them.]. It is inevitable that every shadow must have its centre in a
line with the centre of the light.

On the shape of derived shadows (166-174).



The pyramidal shadow produced by a columnar body will be narrower
than the body itself in proportion as the simple derived shadow is
intersected farther from the body which casts it.

[Footnote 166: Compare the first diagram to No. 161. If we here
conceive of the outlines of the pyramid of shadow on the ground as
prolonged beyond its apex this gives rise to a second pyramid; this
is what is spoken of at the beginning of No. 166.]


The cast shadow will be longest when the light is lowest.

The cast shadow will be shortest when the light is highest.


Both the primary and derived shadow will be larger when caused by
the light of a candle than by diffused light. The difference between
the larger and smaller shadows will be in inverse proportion to the
larger and smaller lights causing them.

[Footnote: In the diagrams A stands for celo (sky), B for
cadela (candle).]



Among bodies of equal size, that one which is illuminated by the
largest light will have the shortest shadow. Experiment confirms
this proposition. Thus the body m n is surrounded by a larger
amount of light than the body p q, as is shown above. Let us say
that v c a b d x is the sky, the source of light, and that s t
is a window by which the luminous rays enter, and so m n and p q
are bodies in light and shade as exposed to this light; m n will
have a small derived shadow, because its original shadow will be
small; and the derivative light will be large, again, because the
original light c d will be large and p q will have more derived
shadow because its original shadow will be larger, and its derived
light will be smaller than that of the body m n because that
portion of the hemisphere a b which illuminates it is smaller than
the hemisphere c d which illuminates the body m n.

[Footnote: The diagram, given on Pl. IV, No. 2, stands in the
original between lines 2 and 7, while the text of lines 3 to 6 is
written on its left side. In the reproduction of this diagram the
letter v at the outer right-hand end has been omitted.]


The shadow m bears the same proportion to the shadow n as the
line b c to the line f c.



Of different shadows of equal strength that which is nearest the eye
will seem the least strong.

Why is the shadow e a b in the first grade of strength, b c in
the second; c d in the third? The reason is that as from e a b
the sky is nowhere visible, it gets no light whatever from the sky,
and so has no direct [primary] light. b c faces the portion of the
sky f g and is illuminated by it. c d faces the sky at h k. c
, being exposed to a larger extent of sky than b c, it is
reasonable that it should be more lighted. And thus, up to a certain
distance, the wall a d will grow lighter for the reasons here
given, until the darkness of the room overpowers the light from the


When the light of the atmosphere is restricted [by an opening] and
illuminates bodies which cast shadows, these bodies being equally
distant from the centre of the window, that which is most obliquely
placed will cast the largest shadow beyond it.


These bodies standing apart in a room lighted by a single window
will have derivative shadows more or less short according as they
are more or less opposite to the window. Among the shadows cast by
bodies of equal mass but at unequal distances from the opening by
which they are illuminated, that shadow will be the longest of the
body which is least in the light. And in proportion as one body is
better illuminated than another its shadow will be shorter than
another. The proportion n m and e v k bear to r t and v x
corresponds with that of the shadow x to 4 and y.

The reason why those bodies which are placed most in front of the
middle of the window throw shorter shadows than those obliquely
situated is:–That the window appears in its proper form and to the
obliquely placed ones it appears foreshortened; to those in the
middle, the window shows its full size, to the oblique ones it
appears smaller; the one in the middle faces the whole hemisphere
that is e f and those on the side have only a strip; that is q r
faces a b; and m n faces c d; the body in the middle having a
larger quantity of light than those at the sides is lighted from a
point much below its centre, and thus the shadow is shorter. And the
pyramid g 4 goes into l y exactly as often as a b goes into e
. The axis of every derivative shadow passes through 6 1/2
[Footnote 31: passa per 6 1/2 (passes through 6 1/2). The meaning
of these words is probably this: Each of the three axes of the
derived shadow intersects the centre (mezzo) of the primary shadow
(ombra originale) and, by prolongation upwards crosses six lines.

This is self evident only in the middle diagram; but it is equally
true of the side figures if we conceive of the lines 4 f, x n v
, y l k v, and 4 e, as prolonged beyond the semicircle of the
horizon.] and is in a straight line with the centre of the primary
shadow, with the centre of the body casting it and of the derivative
light and with the centre of the window and, finally, with the
centre of that portion of the source of light which is the celestial
hemisphere, y h is the centre of the derived shade, l h of the
primary shadow, l of the body throwing it, l k of the derived
light, v is the centre of the window, e is the final centre of
the original light afforded by that portion of the hemisphere of the
sky which illuminates the solid body.

[Footnote: Compare the diagram on Pl. IV, No. 3. In the original
this drawing is placed between lines 3 and 22; the rest, from line 4
to line 21, is written on the left hand margin.]



You will find that the proportion of the diameter of the derived
shadow to that of the primary shadow will be the same as that
between the darkness of the primary shadow and that of the derived

[Footnote 6: Compare No. 177.] Let a b be the diameter of the
primary shadow and c d that of the derived shadow, I say that a
going, as you see, three times into d c, the shadow d c will
be three times as light as the shadow a b. [Footnote 8: Compare
No. 177.]

If the size of the illuminating body is larger than that of the
illuminated body an intersection of shadow will occur, beyond which
the shadows will run off in two opposite directions as if they were
caused by two separate lights.

On the relative intensity of derived shadows (175-179).



The derived shadow is stronger in proportion as it is nearer to its
place of origin.



Shadows fade and are lost at long distances because the larger
quantity of illuminated air which lies between the eye and the
object seen tints the shadow with its own colour.


a b will be darker than c d in proportion as c d is broader
than a b.

[Footnote: In the original MS. the word lume (light) is written at
the apex of the pyramid.]


It can be proved why the shadow o p c h is darker in proportion as
it is nearer to the line p h and is lighter in proportion as it is
nearer to the line o c. Let the light a b, be a window, and let
the dark wall in which this window is, be b s, that is, one of the
sides of the wall.

Then we may say that the line p h is darker than any other part of
the space o p c h, because this line faces the whole surface in
shadow of [Footnote: In the original the diagram is placed between
lines 27 and 28.] the wall b s. The line o c is lighter than the
other part of this space o p c h, because this line faces the
luminous space a b.

Where the shadow is larger, or smaller, or equal the body which
casts it.

[First of the character of divided lights. [Footnote 14: lumi
. The text here breaks off abruptly.]


The shadow f r c h is under such conditions as that where it is
farthest from its inner side it loses depth in proportion. To prove

Let d a, be the light and f n the solid body, and let a e be
one of the side walls of the window that is d a. Then I
say–according to the 2nd [proposition]: that the surface of any
body is affected by the tone of the objects surrounding it,–that
the side r c, which faces the dark wall a e must participate of
its darkness and, in the same way that the outer surface which faces
the light d a participates of the light; thus we get the outlines
of the extremes on each side of the centre included between them.]

This is divided into four parts. The first the extremes, which
include the compound shadow, secondly the compound shadow between
these extremes.



If it were the whole of the light that caused the shadows beyond the
bodies placed in front of it, it would follow that any body much
smaller than the light would cast a pyramidal shadow; but experience
not showing this, it must be the centre of the light that produces
this effect.

[Footnote: The diagram belonging to this passage is between lines 4
and 5 in the original. Comp. the reproduction Pl. IV, No. 4. The
text and drawing of this chapter have already been published with
tolerable accuracy. See M. JORDAN: “Das Malerbuch des Leonardo da
“. Leipzig 1873, P. 90.]


Let a b be the width of the light from a window, which falls on a
stick set up at one foot from a c [Footnote 6: bastone (stick).
The diagram has a sphere in place of a stick.]. And let a d be the
space where all the light from the window is visible. At c e that
part of the window which is between l b cannot be seen. In the
same way a m cannot be seen from d f and therefore in these two
portions the light begins to fail.

Shadow as produced by two lights of different size (180. 181).


A body in light and shade placed between two equal lights side by
side will cast shadows in proportion to the [amount of] light. And
the shadows will be one darker than the other in proportion as one
light is nearer to the said body than the other on the opposite

A body placed at an equal distance between two lights will cast two
shadows, one deeper than the other in proportion, as the light which
causes it is brighter than the other.

[Footnote: In the MS. the larger diagram is placed above the first
line; the smaller one between l. 4 & 5.]


A light which is smaller than the body it illuminates produces
shadows of which the outlines end within [the surface of] the body,
and not much compound shadow; and falls on less than half of it. A
light which is larger than the body it illuminates, falls on more
than half of it, and produces much compound shadow.

The effect of light at different distances.



A body placed between 2 equal lights will cast 2 shadows of itself
in the direction of the lines of the 2 lights; and if you move this
body placing it nearer to one of the lights the shadow cast towards
the nearer light will be less deep than that which falls towards the
more distant one.

Further complications in the derived shadows (183-187).


The greatest depth of shadow is in the simple derived shadow because
it is not lighted by either of the two lights a b, c d.

The next less deep shadow is the derived shadow e f n; and in this
the shadow is less by half, because it is illuminated by a single
light, that is c d.

This is uniform in natural tone because it is lighted throughout by
one only of the two luminous bodies [10]. But it varies with the
conditions of shadow, inasmuch as the farther it is away from the
light the less it is illuminated by it [13].

The third degree of depth is the middle shadow [Footnote 15: We
gather from what follows that q g r here means ombra media (the
middle shadow).]. But this is not uniform in natural tone; because
the nearer it gets to the simple derived shadow the deeper it is
[Footnote 18: Compare lines 10-13], and it is the uniformly gradual
diminution by increase of distance which is what modifies it
[Footnote 20: See Footnote 18]: that is to say the depth of a shadow
increases in proportion to the distance from the two lights.

The fourth is the shadow k r s and this is all the darker in
natural tone in proportion as it is nearer to k s, because it gets
less of the light a o, but by the accident [of distance] it is
rendered less deep, because it is nearer to the light c d, and
thus is always exposed to both lights.

The fifth is less deep in shadow than either of the others because
it is always entirely exposed to one of the lights and to the whole
or part of the other; and it is less deep in proportion as it is
nearer to the two lights, and in proportion as it is turned towards
the outer side x t; because it is more exposed to the second light
a b.

[Footnote: The diagram to this section is given on Pl. V. To the
left is the facsimile of the beginning of the text belonging to it.]



Why, at the intersections a, b of the two compound shadows e f
and m e, is a simple shadow pfoduced as at e h and m g, while
no such simple shadow is produced at the other two intersections c
made by the very same compound shadows?


Compound shadow are a mixture of light and shade and simple shadows
are simply darkness. Hence, of the two lights n and o, one falls
on the compound shadow from one side, and the other on the compound
shadow from the other side, but where they intersect no light falls,
as at a b; therefore it is a simple shadow. Where there is a
compound shadow one light or the other falls; and here a difficulty
arises for my adversary since he says that, where the compound
shadows intersect, both the lights which produce the shadows must of
necessity fall and therefore these shadows ought to be neutralised;
inasmuch as the two lights do not fall there, we say that the shadow
is a simple one and where only one of the two lights falls, we say
the shadow is compound, and where both the lights fall the shadow is
neutralised; for where both lights fall, no shadow of any kind is
produced, but only a light background limiting the shadow. Here I
shall say that what my adversary said was true: but he only mentions
such truths as are in his favour; and if we go on to the rest he
must conclude that my proposition is true. And that is: That if both
lights fell on the point of intersection, the shadows would be
neutralised. This I confess to be true if [neither of] the two
shadows fell in the same spot; because, where a shadow and a light
fall, a compound shadow is produced, and wherever two shadows or two
equal lights fall, the shadow cannot vary in any part of it, the
shadows and the lights both being equal. And this is proved in the
eighth [proposition] on proportion where it is said that if a given
quantity has a single unit of force and resistance, a double
quantity will have double force and double resistance.


The intersection n is produced by the shadows caused by the light
b, because this light b produces the shadow x b, and the
shadow s b, but the intersection m is produced by the light a
which causes the shadow s a, and the shadow x a.

But if you uncover both the lights a b, then you get the two
shadows n m both at once, and besides these, two other, simple
shadows are produced at r o where neither of the two lights falls
at all. The grades of depth in compound shadows are fewer in
proportion as the lights falling on, and crossing them are less


Why the intersections at n being composed of two compound derived
shadows, forms a compound shadow and not a simple one, as happens
with other intersections of compound shadows. This occurs, according
to the 2nd [diagram] of this [prop.] which says:–The intersection
of derived shadows when produced by the intersection of columnar
shadows caused by a single light does not produce a simple shadow.
And this is the corollary of the 1st [prop.] which says:–The
intersection of simple derived shadows never results in a deeper
shadow, because the deepest shadows all added together cannot be
darker than one by itself. Since, if many deepest shadows increased
in depth by their duplication, they could not be called the
deepest shadows, but only part-shadows. But if such intersections
are illuminated by a second light placed between the eye and the
intersecting bodies, then those shadows would become compound
shadows and be uniformly dark just as much at the intersection as
throughout the rest. In the 1st and 2nd above, the intersections i
will not be doubled in depth as it is doubled in quantity. But in
this 3rd, at the intersections g n they will be double in depth
and in quantity.



The derived shadow of the dark walls on each side of the bright
light of the window are what mingle their various degrees of shade
with the light derived from the window; and these various depths of
shade modify every portion of the light, except where it is
strongest, at c. To prove this let d a be the primary shadow
which is turned towards the point e, and darkens it by its derived
shadow; as may be seen by the triangle a e d, in which the
angle e faces the darkened base d a e; the point v faces the
dark shadow a s which is part of a d, and as the whole is
greater than a part, e which faces the whole base [of the
triangle], will be in deeper shadow than v which only faces part
of it. In consequence of the conclusion [shown] in the above
diagram, t will be less darkened than v, because the base of the
t is part of the base of the v; and in the same way it follows
that p is less in shadow than t, because the base of the p is
part of the base of the t. And c is the terminal point of the
derived shadow and the chief beginning of the highest light.

[Footnote: The diagram on Pl. IV, No. 5 belongs to this passage; but
it must be noted that the text explains only the figure on the
right-hand side.]


On the shape of the cast shadows (188-191).


The form of the shadow cast by any body of uniform density can never
be the same as that of the body producing it. [Footnote: Comp. the
drawing on PI. XXVIII, No. 5.]


No cast shadow can produce the true image of the body which casts it
on a vertical plane unless the centre of the light is equally
distant from all the edges of that body.


If a window a b admits the sunlight into a room, the sunlight will
magnify the size of the window and diminish the shadow of a man in
such a way as that when the man makes that dim shadow of himself,
approach to that which defines the real size of the window, he will
see the shadows where they come into contact, dim and confused from
the strength of the light, shutting off and not allowing the solar
rays to pass; the effect of the shadow of the man cast by this
contact will be exactly that figured above.

[Footnote: It is scarcely possible to render the meaning of this
sentence with strict accuracy; mainly because the grammatical
construction is defective in the most important part–line 4. In the
very slight original sketch the shadow touches the upper arch of the
window and the correction, here given is perhaps not justified.]


A shadow is never seen as of uniform depth on the surface which
intercepts it unless every portion of that surface is equidistant
from the luminous body. This is proved by the 7th which says:–The
shadow will appear lighter or stronger as it is surrounded by a
darker or a lighter background. And by the 8th of this:–The
background will be in parts darker or lighter, in proportion as it
is farther from or nearer to the luminous body. And:–Of various
spots equally distant from the luminous body those will always be in
the highest light on which the rays fall at the smallest angles: The
outline of the shadow as it falls on inequalities in the surface
will be seen with all the contours similar to those of the body that
casts it, if the eye is placed just where the centre of the light

The shadow will look darkest where it is farthest from the body that
casts it. The shadow c d, cast by the body in shadow a b which
is equally distant in all parts, is not of equal depth because it is
seen on a back ground of varying brightness. [Footnote: Compare the
three diagrams on Pl. VI, no 1 which, in the original accompany this

On the outlines of cast shadows (192-195).


The edges of a derived shadow will be most distinct where it is cast
nearest to the primary shadow.


As the derived shadow gets more distant from the primary shadow, the
more the cast shadow differs from the primary shadow.



The greater the difference between a light and the body lighted by
it, the light being the larger, the more vague will be the outlines
of the shadow of that object.

The derived shadow will be most confused towards the edges of its
interception by a plane, where it is remotest from the body casting


What is the cause which makes the outlines of the shadow vague and

Whether it is possible to give clear and definite outlines to the
edges of shadows.

On the relative size of shadows (196. 197).



If an object placed in front of a single light is very close to it
you will see that it casts a very large shadow on the opposite wall,
and the farther you remove the object from the light the smaller
will the image of the shadow become.


The disproportion of a shadow which is larger than the body
producing it, results from the light being smaller than the body, so
that it cannot be at an equal distance from the edges of the body
[Footnote 11: H. LUDWIG in his edition of the old copies, in the
Vatican library–in which this chapter is included under Nos. 612,
613 and 614 alters this passage as follows: quella parte ch’e piu
propinqua piu cresce che le distanti
, although the Vatican copy
agrees with the original MS. in having distante in the former and
propinque in the latter place. This supposed amendment seems to me
to invert the facts. Supposing for instance, that on Pl. XXXI No. 3.
f is the spot where the light is that illuminates the figure there
represented, and that the line behind the figure represents a wall
on which the shadow of the figure is thrown. It is evident, that in
that case the nearest portion, in this case the under part of the
thigh, is very little magnified in the shadow, and the remoter
parts, for instance the head, are more magnified.]; and the portions
which are most remote are made larger than the nearer portions for
this reason [Footnote 12: See Footnote 11].


The atmosphere which surrounds a light is almost like light itself
for brightness and colour; but the farther off it is the more it
loses this resemblance. An object which casts a large shadow and is
near to the light, is illuminated both by that light by the luminous
atmosphere; hence this diffused light gives the shadow ill-defined


A luminous body which is long and narrow in shape gives more
confused outlines to the derived shadow than a spherical light, and
this contradicts the proposition next following: A shadow will have
its outlines more clearly defined in proportion as it is nearer to
the primary shadow or, I should say, the body casting the shadow;
[Footnote 14: The lettering refers to the lower diagram, Pl. XLI,
No. 5.] the cause of this is the elongated form of the luminous body
a c, &c. [Footnote 16: See Footnote 14].

Effects on cast shadows by the tone of the back ground.



Modified shadows are those which are cast on light walls or other
illuminated objects.

A shadow looks darkest against a light background. The outlines of a
derived shadow will be clearer as they are nearer to the primary
shadow. A derived shadow will be most defined in shape where it is
intercepted, where the plane intercepts it at the most equal angle.

Those parts of a shadow will appear darkest which have darker
objects opposite to them. And they will appear less dark when they
face lighter objects. And the larger the light object opposite, the
more the shadow will be lightened.

And the larger the surface of the dark object the more it will
darken the derived shadow where it is intercepted.

A disputed proposition.



Certain mathematicians have maintained that a triangle, of which the
base is turned to the light, casts no shadow on a plane; and this
they prove by saying [5] that no spherical body smaller than the
light can reach the middle with the shadow. The lines of radiant
light are straight lines [6]; therefore, suppose the light to be g
and the triangle l m n, and let the plane be i k; they say
the light g falls on the side of the triangle l n, and the
portion of the plane i q. Thus again h like g falls on the
side l m, and then on m n and the plane p k; and if the whole
plane thus faces the lights g h, it is evident that the triangle
has no shadow; and that which has no shadow can cast none. This, in
this case appears credible. But if the triangle n p g were not
illuminated by the two lights g and h, but by i p and g and
k neither side is lighted by more than one single light: that is
i p is invisible to h g and k will never be lighted by g;
hence p q will be twice as light as the two visible portions that
are in shadow.

[Footnote: 5–6. This passage is so obscure that it would be rash to
offer an explanation. Several words seem to have been omitted.]

On the relative depth of cast shadows (200-202).


A spot is most in the shade when a large number of darkened rays
fall upon it. The spot which receives the rays at the widest angle
and by darkened rays will be most in the dark; a will be twice as
dark as b, because it originates from twice as large a base at an
equal distance. A spot is most illuminated when a large number of
luminous rays fall upon it. d is the beginning of the shadow d f,
and tinges c but a little; d e is half of the shadow d f and
gives a deeper tone where it is cast at b than at f. And the
whole shaded space e gives its tone to the spot a. [Footnote:
The diagram here referred to is on Pl. XLI, No. 2.]


A n will be darker than c r in proportion to the number of times
that a b goes into c d.


The shadow cast by an object on a plane will be smaller in
proportion as that object is lighted by feebler rays. Let d e be
the object and d c the plane surface; the number of times that d
will go into f g gives the proportion of light at f h to d
. The ray of light will be weaker in proportion to its distance
from the hole through which it falls.


Principles of reflection (203. 204).



If the object is the mountain here figured, and the light is at the
point a, I say that from b d and also from c f there will be
no light but from reflected rays. And this results from the fact
that rays of light can only act in straight lines; and the same is
the case with the secondary or reflected rays.


The edges of the derived shadow are defined by the hues of the
illuminated objects surrounding the luminous body which produces the

On reverberation.



Reverberation is caused by bodies of a bright nature with a flat and
semi opaque surface which, when the light strikes upon them, throw
it back again, like the rebound of a ball, to the former object.


All dense bodies have their surfaces occupied by various degrees of
light and shade. The lights are of two kinds, one called original,
the other borrowed. Original light is that which is inherent in the
flame of fire or the light of the sun or of the atmosphere. Borrowed
light will be reflected light; but to return to the promised
definition: I say that this luminous reverberation is not produced
by those portions of a body which are turned towards darkened
objects, such as shaded spots, fields with grass of various height,
woods whether green or bare; in which, though that side of each
branch which is turned towards the original light has a share of
that light, nevertheless the shadows cast by each branch separately
are so numerous, as well as those cast by one branch on the others,
that finally so much shadow is the result that the light counts for
nothing. Hence objects of this kind cannot throw any reflected light
on opposite objects.

Reflection on water (206. 207).



The shadow or object mirrored in water in motion, that is to say in
small wavelets, will always be larger than the external object
producing it.


It is impossible that an object mirrored on water should correspond
in form to the object mirrored, since the centre of the eye is above
the surface of the water.

This is made plain in the figure here given, which demonstrates that
the eye sees the surface a b, and cannot see it at l f, and at
r t; it sees the surface of the image at r t, and does not see
it in the real object c d. Hence it is impossible to see it, as
has been said above unless the eye itself is situated on the surface
of the water as is shown below [13].

[Footnote: A stands for ochio [eye], B for aria [air], C
for acqua [water], D for cateto [cathetus].–In the original
MS. the second diagram is placed below line 13.]

Experiments with the mirror (208-210).



If the illuminated object is of the same size as the luminous body
and as that in which the light is reflected, the amount of the
reflected light will bear the same proportion to the intermediate
light as this second light will bear to the first, if both bodies
are smooth and white.


Describe how it is that no object has its limitation in the mirror
but in the eye which sees it in the mirror. For if you look at your
face in the mirror, the part resembles the whole in as much as the
part is everywhere in the mirror, and the whole is in every part of
the same mirror; and the same is true of the whole image of any
object placed opposite to this mirror, &c.


No man can see the image of another man in a mirror in its proper
place with regard to the objects; because every object falls on [the
surface of] the mirror at equal angles. And if the one man, who sees
the other in the mirror, is not in a direct line with the image he
will not see it in the place where it really falls; and if he gets
into the line, he covers the other man and puts himself in the place
occupied by his image. Let n o be the mirror, b the eye of your
friend and d your own eye. Your friend’s eye will appear to you at
a, and to him it will seem that yours is at c, and the
intersection of the visual rays will occur at m, so that either of
you touching m will touch the eye of the other man which shall be
open. And if you touch the eye of the other man in the mirror it
will seem to him that you are touching your own.

Appendix:–On shadows in movement (211. 212).



When two bodies casting shadows, and one in front of the other, are
between a window and the wall with some space between them, the
shadow of the body which is nearest to the plane of the wall will
move if the body nearest to the window is put in transverse motion
across the window. To prove this let a and b be two bodies
placed between the window n m and the plane surface o p with
sufficient space between them as shown by the space a b. I say
that if the body a is moved towards s the shadow of the body b
which is at c will move towards d.



The motion of a shadow is always more rapid than that of the body
which produces it if the light is stationary. To prove this let a
be the luminous body, and b the body casting the shadow, and d
the shadow. Then I say that in the time while the solid body moves
from b to c, the shadow d will move to e; and this
proportion in the rapidity of the movements made in the same space
of time, is equal to that in the length of the space moved over.
Thus, given the proportion of the space moved over by the body b
to c, to that moved over by the shadow d to e, the proportion
in the rapidity of their movements will be the same.

But if the luminous body is also in movement with a velocity equal
to that of the solid body, then the shadow and the body that casts
it will move with equal speed. And if the luminous body moves more
rapidly than the solid body, the motion of the shadow will be slower
than that of the body casting it.

But if the luminous body moves more slowly than the solid body, then
the shadow will move more rapidly than that body.


The effect of rays passing through holes (213. 214).



If you transmit the rays of the sun through a hole in the shape of a
star you will see a beautiful effect of perspective in the spot
where the sun’s rays fall.

[Footnote: In this and the following chapters of MS. C the order of
the original paging has been adhered to, and is shown in
parenthesis. Leonardo himself has but rarely worked out the subject
of these propositions. The space left for the purpose has
occasionally been made use of for quite different matter. Even the
numerous diagrams, most of them very delicately sketched, lettered
and numbered, which occur on these pages, are hardly ever explained,
with the exception of those few which are here given.]


No small hole can so modify the convergence of rays of light as to
prevent, at a long distance, the transmission of the true form of
the luminous body causing them. It is impossible that rays of light
passing through a parallel [slit], should not display the form of
the body causing them, since all the effects produced by a luminous
body are [in fact] the reflection of that body: The moon, shaped
like a boat, if transmitted through a hole is figured in the surface
[it falls on] as a boatshaped object. [Footnote 8: In the MS. a
blank space is left after this question.] Why the eye sees bodies at
a distance, larger than they measure on the vertical plane?.

[Footnote: This chapter, taken from another MS. may, as an
exception, be placed here, as it refers to the same subject as the
preceding section.]

On gradation of shadows (215. 216).


Although the breadth and length of lights and shadow will be
narrower and shorter in foreshortening, the quality and quantity of
the light and shade is not increased nor diminished.

[3]The function of shade and light when diminished by
foreshortening, will be to give shadow and to illuminate an object
opposite, according to the quality and quantity in which they fall
on the body.

[5]In proportion as a derived shadow is nearer to its penultimate
extremities the deeper it will appear, g z beyond the intersection
faces only the part of the shadow [marked] y z; this by
intersection takes the shadow from m n but by direct line it takes
the shadow a m hence it is twice as deep as g z. Y x, by
intersection takes the shadow n o, but by direct line the shadow
n m a, therefore x y is three times as dark as z g; x f, by
intersection faces o b and by direct line o n m a, therefore we
must say that the shadow between f x will be four times as dark as
the shadow z g, because it faces four times as much shadow.

Let a b be the side where the primary shadow is, and b c the
primary light, d will be the spot where it is intercepted,f g
the derived shadow and f e the derived light.

And this must be at the beginning of the explanation.

[Footnote: In the original MS. the text of No. 252 precedes the one
given here. In the text of No. 215 there is a blank space of about
four lines between the lines 2 and 3. The diagram given on Pl. VI,
No. 2 is placed between lines 4 and 5. Between lines 5 and 6 there
is another space of about three lines and one line left blank
between lines 8 and 9. The reader will find the meaning of the whole
passage much clearer if he first reads the final lines 11–13.
Compare also line 4 of No. 270.]

On relative proportion of light and shadows (216–221).


That part of the surface of a body on which the images [reflection]
from other bodies placed opposite fall at the largest angle will
assume their hue most strongly. In the diagram below, 8 is a larger
angle than 4, since its base a n is larger than e n the base of
4. This diagram below should end at a n 4 8. [4]That portion of
the illuminated surface on which a shadow is cast will be brightest
which lies contiguous to the cast shadow. Just as an object which is
lighted up by a greater quantity of luminous rays becomes brighter,
so one on which a greater quantity of shadow falls, will be darker.

Let 4 be the side of an illuminated surface 4 8, surrounding the
cast shadow g e 4. And this spot 4 will be lighter than 8, because
less shadow falls on it than on 8. Since 4 faces only the shadow i
; and 8 faces and receives the shadow a e as well as i n which
makes it twice as dark. And the same thing happens when you put the
atmosphere and the sun in the place of shade and light.

[12] The distribution of shadow, originating in, and limited by,
plane surfaces placed near to each other, equal in tone and directly
opposite, will be darker at the ends than at the beginning, which
will be determined by the incidence of the luminous rays. You will
find the same proportion in the depth of the derived shadows a n
as in the nearness of the luminous bodies m b, which cause them;
and if the luminous bodies were of equal size you would still
farther find the same proportion in the light cast by the luminous
circles and their shadows as in the distance of the said luminous

[Footnote: The diagram originally placed between lines 3 and 4 is on
Pl. VI, No. 3. In the diagram given above line 14 of the original,
and here printed in the text, the words corpo luminoso [luminous
body] are written in the circle m, luminoso in the circle b
and ombroso [body in shadow] in the circle o.]



[2] The darkness occasioned by the casting of combined shadows will
be in conformity with its cause, which will originate and terminate
between two plane surfaces near together, alike in tone and directly
opposite each other.

[4] In proportion as the source of light is larger, the luminous and
shadow rays will be more mixed together. This result is produced
because wherever there is a larger quantity of luminous rays, there
is most light, but where there are fewer there is least light,
consequently the shadow rays come in and mingle with them.

[Footnote: Diagrams are inserted before lines 2 and 4.]


In all the proportions I lay down it must be understood that the
medium between the bodies is always the same. [2] The smaller the
luminous body the more distinct will the transmission of the shadows

[3] When of two opposite shadows, produced by the same body, one is
twice as dark as the other though similar in form, one of the two
lights causing them must have twice the diameter that the other has
and be at twice the distance from the opaque body. If the object is
lowly moved across the luminous body, and the shadow is intercepted
at some distance from the object, there will be the same relative
proportion between the motion of the derived shadow and the motion
of the primary shadow, as between the distance from the object to
the light, and that from the object to the spot where the shadow is
intercepted; so that though the object is moved slowly the shadow
moves fast.

[Footnote: There are diagrams inserted before lines 2 and 3 but they
are not reproduced here. The diagram above line 6 is written upon as
follows: at A lume (light), at B obbietto (body), at C ombra
(shadow of the object).]


A luminous body will appear less brilliant when surrounded by a
bright background.

[2] I have found that the stars which are nearest to the horizon
look larger than the others because light falls upon them from a
larger proportion of the solar body than when they are above us; and
having more light from the sun they give more light, and the bodies
which are most luminous appear the largest. As may be seen by the
sun through a mist, and overhead; it appears larger where there is
no mist and diminished through mist. No portion of the luminous body
is ever visible from any spot within the pyramid of pure derived

[Footnote: Between lines 1 and 2 there is in the original a large
diagram which does not refer to this text. ]


A body on which the solar rays fall between the thin branches of
trees far apart will cast but a single shadow.

[2] If an opaque body and a luminous one are (both) spherical the
base of the pyramid of rays will bear the same proportion to the
luminous body as the base of the pyramid of shade to the opaque

[4] When the transmitted shadow is intercepted by a plane surface
placed opposite to it and farther away from the luminous body than
from the object [which casts it] it will appear proportionately
darker and the edges more distinct.

[Footnote: The diagram which, in the original, is placed above line
2, is similar to the one, here given on page 73 (section 120).–The
diagram here given in the margin stands, in the original, between
lines 3 and 4.]


A body illuminated by the solar rays passing between the thick
branches of trees will produce as many shadows as there are branches
between the sun and itself.

Where the shadow-rays from an opaque pyramidal body are intercepted
they will cast a shadow of bifurcate outline and various depth at
the points. A light which is broader than the apex but narrower than
the base of an opaque pyramidal body placed in front of it, will
cause that pyramid to cast a shadow of bifurcate form and various
degrees of depth.

If an opaque body, smaller than the light, casts two shadows and if
it is the same size or larger, casts but one, it follows that a
pyramidal body, of which part is smaller, part equal to, and part
larger than, the luminous body, will cast a bifurcate shadow.

[Footnote: Between lines 2 and 3 there are in the original two large


Perspective of Disappearance.

The theory of the “Prospettiva de’ perdimenti” would, in many
important details, be quite unintelligible if it had not been led up
by the principles of light and shade on which it is based. The word

“Prospettiva” in the language of the time included the principles
of optics; what Leonardo understood by
“Perdimenti” will be
clearly seen in the early chapters, Nos.
222–224. It is in the
very nature of the case that the farther explanations given in the
subsequent chapters must be limited to general rules. The sections
given as
227–231 “On indistinctness at short distances” have, it
is true, only an indirect bearing on the subject; but on the other
hand, the following chapters,
232–234, “On indistinctness at
great distances,” go fully into the matter, and in chapters

235–239, which treat “Of the importance of light and shade in the
Perspective of Disappearance”, the practical issues are distinctly
insisted on in their relation to the theory. This is naturally
followed by the statements as to “the effect of light or dark
backgrounds on the apparent size of bodies”
(Nos. 240–250). At
the end I have placed, in the order of the original, those sections
from the MS.
C which treat of the “Perspective of Disappearance”
and serve to some extent to complete the treatment of the subject


Definition (222. 223).



If the real outlines of opaque bodies are indistinguishable at even
a very short distance, they will be more so at long distances; and,
since it is by its outlines that we are able to know the real form
of any opaque body, when by its remoteness we fail to discern it as
a whole, much more must we fail to discern its parts and outlines.



Among opaque objects of equal size the apparent diminution of size
will be in proportion to their distance from the eye of the
spectator; but it is an inverse proportion, since, where the
distance is greater, the opaque body will appear smaller, and the
less the distance the larger will the object appear. And this is the
fundamental principle of linear perspective and it
follows:–[11]every object as it becomes more remote loses first
those parts which are smallest. Thus of a horse, we should lose the
legs before the head, because the legs are thinner than the head;
and the neck before the body for the same reason. Hence it follows
that the last part of the horse which would be discernible by the
eye would be the mass of the body in an oval form, or rather in a
cylindrical form and this would lose its apparent thickness before
its length–according to the 2nd rule given above, &c. [Footnote 23:
Compare line 11.].

If the eye remains stationary the perspective terminates in the
distance in a point. But if the eye moves in a straight [horizontal]
line the perspective terminates in a line and the reason is that
this line is generated by the motion of the point and our sight;
therefore it follows that as we move our sight [eye], the point
moves, and as we move the point, the line is generated, &c.

An illustration by experiment.


Every visible body, in so far as it affects the eye, includes three
attributes; that is to say: mass, form and colour; and the mass is
recognisable at a greater distance from the place of its actual
existence than either colour or form. Again, colour is discernible
at a greater distance than form, but this law does not apply to
luminous bodies.

The above proposition is plainly shown and proved by experiment;
because: if you see a man close to you, you discern the exact
appearance of the mass and of the form and also of the colouring; if
he goes to some distance you will not recognise who he is, because
the character of the details will disappear, if he goes still
farther you will not be able to distinguish his colouring, but he
will appear as a dark object, and still farther he will appear as a
very small dark rounded object. It appears rounded because distance
so greatly diminishes the various details that nothing remains
visible but the larger mass. And the reason is this: We know very
well that all the images of objects reach the senses by a small
aperture in the eye; hence, if the whole horizon a d is admitted
through such an aperture, the object b c being but a very small
fraction of this horizon what space can it fill in that minute image
of so vast a hemisphere? And because luminous bodies have more power
in darkness than any others, it is evident that, as the chamber of
the eye is very dark, as is the nature of all colored cavities, the
images of distant objects are confused and lost in the great light
of the sky; and if they are visible at all, appear dark and black,
as every small body must when seen in the diffused light of the

[Footnote: The diagram belonging to this passage is placed between
lines 5 and 6; it is No. 4 on Pl. VI. ]

A guiding rule.



An object will appear more or less distinct at the same distance, in
proportion as the atmosphere existing between the eye and that
object is more or less clear. Hence, as I know that the greater or
less quantity of the air that lies between the eye and the object
makes the outlines of that object more or less indistinct, you must
diminish the definiteness of outline of those objects in proportion
to their increasing distance from the eye of the spectator.

An experiment.


When I was once in a place on the sea, at an equal distance from the
shore and the mountains, the distance from the shore looked much
greater than that from the mountains.

On indistinctness at short distances (227-231).


If you place an opaque object in front of your eye at a distance of
four fingers’ breadth, if it is smaller than the space between the
two eyes it will not interfere with your seeing any thing that may
be beyond it. No object situated beyond another object seen by the
eye can be concealed by this [nearer] object if it is smaller than
the space from eye to eye.


The eye cannot take in a luminous angle which is too close to it.


That part of a surface will be better lighted on which the light
falls at the greater angle. And that part, on which the shadow falls
at the greatest angle, will receive from those rays least of the
benefit of the light.



The edges of an object placed in front of the pupil of the eye will
be less distinct in proportion as they are closer to the eye. This
is shown by the edge of the object n placed in front of the pupil
d; in looking at this edge the pupil also sees all the space a c
which is beyond the edge; and the images the eye receives from that
space are mingled with the images of the edge, so that one image
confuses the other, and this confusion hinders the pupil from
distinguishing the edge.


The outlines of objects will be least clear when they are nearest to
the eye, and therefore remoter outlines will be clearer. Among
objects which are smaller than the pupil of the eye those will be
less distinct which are nearer to the eye.

On indistinctness at great distances (232-234).


Objects near to the eye will appear larger than those at a distance.

Objects seen with two eyes will appear rounder than if they are seen
with only one.

Objects seen between light and shadow will show the most relief.



Our true perception of an object diminishes in proportion as its
size is diminished by distance.



Why objects seen at a distance appear large to the eye and in the
image on the vertical plane they appear small.


I ask how far away the eye can discern a non-luminous body, as, for
instance, a mountain. It will be very plainly visible if the sun is
behind it; and could be seen at a greater or less distance according
to the sun’s place in the sky.

[Footnote: The clue to the solution of this problem (lines 1-3) is
given in lines 4-6, No. 232. Objects seen with both eyes appear
solid since they are seen from two distinct points of sight
separated by the distance between the eyes, but this solidity cannot
be represented in a flat drawing. Compare No. 535.]

The importance of light and shade in the perspective of
disappearance (235-239).


An opaque body seen in a line in which the light falls will reveal
no prominences to the eye. For instance, let a be the solid body
and c the light; c m and c n will be the lines of incidence of
the light, that is to say the lines which transmit the light to the
object a. The eye being at the point b, I say that since the
light c falls on the whole part m n the portions in relief on
that side will all be illuminated. Hence the eye placed at c
cannot see any light and shade and, not seeing it, every portion
will appear of the same tone, therefore the relief in the prominent
or rounded parts will not be visible.



When you represent in your work shadows which you can only discern
with difficulty, and of which you cannot distinguish the edges so
that you apprehend them confusedly, you must not make them sharp or
definite lest your work should have a wooden effect.



You will observe in drawing that among the shadows some are of
undistinguishable gradation and form, as is shown in the 3rd
[proposition] which says: Rounded surfaces display as many degrees
of light and shade as there are varieties of brightness and darkness
reflected from the surrounding objects.



You who draw from nature, look (carefully) at the extent, the
degree, and the form of the lights and shadows on each muscle; and
in their position lengthwise observe towards which muscle the axis
of the central line is directed.


An object which is [so brilliantly illuminated as to be] almost as
bright as light will be visible at a greater distance, and of larger
apparent size than is natural to objects so remote.

The effect of light or dark backgrounds on the apparent size of
objects (240-250).


A shadow will appear dark in proportion to the brilliancy of the
light surrounding it and conversely it will be less conspicuous
where it is seen against a darker background.



An object of equal breadth and colour throughout, seen against a
background of various colours will appear unequal in breadth.

And if an object of equal breadth throughout, but of various
colours, is seen against a background of uniform colour, that object
will appear of various breadth. And the more the colours of the
background or of the object seen against the ground vary, the
greater will the apparent variations in the breadth be though the
objects seen against the ground be of equal breadth [throughout].


A dark object seen against a bright background will appear smaller
than it is.

A light object will look larger when it is seen against a background
darker than itself.



A luminous body when obscured by a dense atmosphere will appear
smaller; as may be seen by the moon or sun veiled by mists.


Of several luminous bodies of equal size and brilliancy and at an
equal distance, that will look the largest which is surrounded by
the darkest background.


I find that any luminous body when seen through a dense and thick
mist diminishes in proportion to its distance from the eye. Thus it
is with the sun by day, as well as the moon and the other eternal
lights by night. And when the air is clear, these luminaries appear
larger in proportion as they are farther from the eye.


That portion of a body of uniform breadth which is against a lighter
background will look narrower [than the rest].

[4] e is a given object, itself dark and of uniform breadth; a b
and c d are two backgrounds one darker than the other; b c is a
bright background, as it might be a spot lighted by the sun through
an aperture in a dark room. Then I say that the object e g will
appear larger at e f than at g h; because e f has a darker
background than g h; and again at f g it will look narrower from
being seen by the eye o, on the light background b c. [Footnote
12: The diagram to which the text, lines 1-11, refers, is placed in
the original between lines 3 and 4, and is given on Pl. XLI, No. 3.
Lines 12 to 14 are explained by the lower of the two diagrams on Pl.
XLI, No. 4. In the original these are placed after line 14.] That
part of a luminous body, of equal breadth and brilliancy throughout,
will look largest which is seen against the darkest background; and
the luminous body will seem on fire.



If you look at a body of which the illuminated portion lies and ends
against a dark background, that part of the light which will look
brightest will be that which lies against the dark [background] at
d. But if this brighter part lies against a light background, the
edge of the object, which is itself light, will be less distinct
than before, and the highest light will appear to be between the
limit of the background m f and the shadow. The same thing is seen
with regard to the dark [side], inasmuch as that edge of the shaded
portion of the object which lies against a light background, as at
l, it looks much darker than the rest. But if this shadow lies
against a dark background, the edge of the shaded part will appear
lighter than before, and the deepest shade will appear between the
edge and the light at the point o.

[Footnote: In the original diagram o is inside the shaded surface
at the level of d.]


An opaque body will appear smaller when it is surrounded by a highly
luminous background, and a light body will appear larger when it is
seen against a darker background. This may be seen in the height of
buildings at night, when lightning flashes behind them; it suddenly
seems, when it lightens, as though the height of the building were
diminished. For the same reason such buildings look larger in a
mist, or by night than when the atmosphere is clear and light.



When you are drawing any object, remember, in comparing the grades
of light in the illuminated portions, that the eye is often deceived
by seeing things lighter than they are. And the reason lies in our
comparing those parts with the contiguous parts. Since if two
[separate] parts are in different grades of light and if the less
bright is conterminous with a dark portion and the brighter is
conterminous with a light background–as the sky or something
equally bright–, then that which is less light, or I should say
less radiant, will look the brighter and the brighter will seem the


Of objects equally dark in themselves and situated at a considerable
and equal distance, that will look the darkest which is farthest
above the earth.



If you place two lighted candles side by side half a braccio apart,
and go from them to a distance 200 braccia you will see that by the
increased size of each they will appear as a single luminous body
with the light of the two flames, one braccio wide.


If you wish to see the real size of these luminous bodies, take a
very thin board and make in it a hole no bigger than the tag of a
lace and place it as close to your eye as possible, so that when you
look through this hole, at the said light, you can see a large space
of air round it. Then by rapidly moving this board backwards and
forwards before your eye you will see the light increase [and

Propositions on perspective of disappearance from MS. C. (250-262).


Of several bodies of equal size and equally distant from the eye,
those will look the smallest which are against the lightest

Every visible object must be surrounded by light and shade. A
perfectly spherical body surrounded by light and shade will appear
to have one side larger than the other in proportion as one is more
highly lighted than the other.



No visible object can be well understood and comprehended by the
human eye excepting from the difference of the background against
which the edges of the object terminate and by which they are
bounded, and no object will appear [to stand out] separate from that
background so far as the outlines of its borders are concerned. The
moon, though it is at a great distance from the sun, when, in an
eclipse, it comes between our eyes and the sun, appears to the eyes
of men to be close to the sun and affixed to it, because the sun is
then the background to the moon.


A luminous body will appear more brilliant in proportion as it is
surrounded by deeper shadow. [Footnote: The diagram which, in the
original, is placed after this text, has no connection with it.]


The straight edges of a body will appear broken when they are
conterminous with a dark space streaked with rays of light.
[Footnote: Here again the diagrams in the original have no
connection with the text.]


Of several bodies, all equally large and equally distant, that which
is most brightly illuminated will appear to the eye nearest and
largest. [Footnote: Here again the diagrams in the original have no
connection with the text.]


If several luminous bodies are seen from a great distance although
they are really separate they will appear united as one body.


If several objects in shadow, standing very close together, are seen
against a bright background they will appear separated by wide


Of several bodies of equal size and tone, that which is farthest
will appear the lightest and smallest.


Of several objects equal in size, brightness of background and
length that which has the flattest surface will look the largest. A
bar of iron equally thick throughout and of which half is red hot,
affords an example, for the red hot part looks thicker than the


Of several bodies of equal size and length, and alike in form and in
depth of shade, that will appear smallest which is surrounded by the
most luminous background.



The foregoing proposition can be clearly proved in this way. Let us
say that m q is the luminous body, then f g will be the opaque
body; and let a e be the above-mentioned plane on which the said
angles fall, showing [plainly] the nature and character of their
bases. Then: a will be more luminous than b; the base of the
angle a is larger than that of b and it therefore makes a
greater angle which will be a m q; and the pyramid b p m will be
narrower and m o c will be still finer, and so on by degrees, in
proportion as they are nearer to e, the pyramids will become
narrower and darker. That portion of the wall will be the darkest
where the breadth of the pyramid of shadow is greater than the
breadth of the pyramid of light.

At the point a the pyramid of light is equal in strength to the
pyramid of shadow, because the base f g is equal to the base r
. At the point d the pyramid of light is narrower than the
pyramid of shadow by so much as the base s f is less than the base
f g.

Divide the foregoing proposition into two diagrams, one with the
pyramids of light and shadow, the other with the pyramids of light


Among shadows of equal depth those which are nearest to the eye will
look least deep.


The more brilliant the light given by a luminous body, the deeper
will the shadows be cast by the objects it illuminates.


Theory of colours.

Leonardo’s theory of colours is even more intimately connected with
his principles of light and shade than his Perspective of
Disappearance and is in fact merely an appendix or supplement to
those principles, as we gather from the titles to sections
267_, and 276, while others again_ (Nos. 281, 282_) are headed_

A very few of these chapters are to be found in the oldest copies
and editions of the Treatise on Painting, and although the material
they afford is but meager and the connection between them but
slight, we must still attribute to them a special theoretical value
as well as practical utility–all the more so because our knowledge
of the theory and use of colours at the time of the Renaissance is
still extremely limited.

The reciprocal effects of colours on objects placed opposite each
other (263-272).



The hue of an illuminated object is affected by that of the luminous



The surface of any opaque body is affected by the colour of
surrounding objects.


A shadow is always affected by the colour of the surface on which it
is cast.


An image produced in a mirror is affected by the colour of the



Every portion of the surface of a body is varied [in hue] by the
[reflected] colour of the object that may be opposite to it.


If you place a spherical body between various objects that is to say
with [direct] sunlight on one side of it, and on the other a wall
illuminated by the sun, which wall may be green or of any other
colour, while the surface on which it is placed may be red, and the
two lateral sides are in shadow, you will see that the natural
colour of that body will assume something of the hue reflected from
those objects. The strongest will be [given by] the luminous body;
the second by the illuminated wall, the third by the shadows. There
will still be a portion which will take a tint from the colour of
the edges.


The surface of every opaque body is affected by the colour of the
objects surrounding it. But this effect will be strong or weak in
proportion as those objects are more or less remote and more or less
strongly [coloured].



The surface of every opaque body assumes the hues reflected from
surrounding objects.

The surface of an opaque body assumes the hues of surrounding
objects more strongly in proportion as the rays that form the images
of those objects strike the surface at more equal angles.

And the surface of an opaque body assumes a stronger hue from the
surrounding objects in proportion as that surface is whiter and the
colour of the object brighter or more highly illuminated.



All the minutest parts of the image intersect each other without
interfering with each other. To prove this let r be one of the
sides of the hole, opposite to which let s be the eye which sees
the lower end o of the line n o. The other extremity cannot
transmit its image to the eye s as it has to strike the end r
and it is the same with regard to m at the middle of the line. The
case is the same with the upper extremity n and the eye u. And
if the end n is red the eye u on that side of the holes will not
see the green colour of o, but only the red of n according to
the 7th of this where it is said: Every form projects images from
itself by the shortest line, which necessarily is a straight line,

[Footnote: 13. This probably refers to the diagram given under No.



The surface of a body assumes in some degree the hue of those around
it. The colours of illuminated objects are reflected from the
surfaces of one to the other in various spots, according to the
various positions of those objects. Let o be a blue object in full
light, facing all by itself the space b c on the white sphere a b
e d e f
, and it will give it a blue tinge, m is a yellow body
reflected onto the space a b at the same time as o the blue
body, and they give it a green colour (by the 2nd [proposition] of
this which shows that blue and yellow make a beautiful green &c.)
And the rest will be set forth in the Book on Painting. In that Book
it will be shown, that, by transmitting the images of objects and
the colours of bodies illuminated by sunlight through a small round
perforation and into a dark chamber onto a plane surface, which
itself is quite white, &c.

But every thing will be upside down.

Combination of different colours in cast shadows.


That which casts the shadow does not face it, because the shadows
are produced by the light which causes and surrounds the shadows.
The shadow caused by the light e, which is yellow, has a blue
tinge, because the shadow of the body a is cast upon the pavement
at b, where the blue light falls; and the shadow produced by the
light d, which is blue, will be yellow at c, because the yellow
light falls there and the surrounding background to these shadows b
will, besides its natural colour, assume a hue compounded of
yellow and blue, because it is lighted by the yellow light and by
the blue light both at once.

Shadows of various colours, as affected by the lights falling on
them. That light which causes the shadow does not face it.

[Footnote: In the original diagram we find in the circle e
giallo” (yellow) and the cirle dazurro” (blue) and also
under the circle of shadow to the left “giallo” is written and
under that to the right “azurro“.

In the second diagram where four circles are placed in a row we find
written, beginning at the left hand, “giallo” (yellow), “azurro
(blue), “verde” (green), “rosso” (red).]

The effect of colours in the camera obscura (273-274).


The edges of a colour(ed object) transmitted through a small hole
are more conspicuous than the central portions.

The edges of the images, of whatever colour, which are transmitted
through a small aperture into a dark chamber will always be stronger
than the middle portions.



The intersections of the images as they enter the pupil do not
mingle in confusion in the space where that intersection unites
them; as is evident, since, if the rays of the sun pass through two
panes of glass in close contact, of which one is blue and the other
yellow, the rays, in penetrating them, do not become blue or yellow
but a beautiful green. And the same thing would happen in the eye,
if the images which were yellow or green should mingle where they
[meet and] intersect as they enter the pupil. As this does not
happen such a mingling does not exist.


The directness of the rays which transmit the forms and colours of
the bodies whence they proceed does not tinge the air nor can they
affect each other by contact where they intersect. They affect only
the spot where they vanish and cease to exist, because that spot
faces and is faced by the original source of these rays, and no
other object, which surrounds that original source can be seen by
the eye where these rays are cut off and destroyed, leaving there
the spoil they have conveyed to it. And this is proved by the 4th
[proposition], on the colour of bodies, which says: The surface of
every opaque body is affected by the colour of surrounding objects;
hence we may conclude that the spot which, by means of the rays
which convey the image, faces–and is faced by the cause of the
image, assumes the colour of that object.

On the colours of derived shadows (275. 276).



Let n be the source of the shadow e f; it will assume its hue.
Let o be the source of h e which will in the same way be tinged
by its hue and so also the colour of v h will be affected by p
which causes it; and the shadow of the triangle z k y will be
affected by the colour of q, because it is produced by it. [7] In
proportion as c d goes into a d, will n r s be darker than
m; and the rest of the space will be shadowless [11]. f g is
the highest light, because here the whole light of the window a d
falls; and thus on the opaque body m e is in equally high light;
z k y is a triangle which includes the deepest shadow, because the
light a d cannot reach any part of it. x h is the 2nd grade of
shadow, because it receives only 1/3 of the light from the window,
that is c d. The third grade of shadow is h e, where two thirds
of the light from the window is visible. The last grade of shadow is
b d e f, because the highest grade of light from the window falls
at f.

[Footnote: The diagram Pl. III, No. 1 belongs to this chapter as
well as the text given in No. 148. Lines 7-11 (compare lines 8-12 of
No. 148) which are written within the diagram, evidently apply to
both sections and have therefore been inserted in both.]



The colour of derived shadows is always affected by that of the body
towards which they are cast. To prove this: let an opaque body be
placed between the plane s c t d and the blue light d e and the
red light a b, then I say that d e, the blue light, will fall on
the whole surface s c t d excepting at o p which is covered by
the shadow of the body q r, as is shown by the straight lines d q
o e r p
. And the same occurs with the light a b which falls on
the whole surface s c t d excepting at the spot obscured by the
shadow q r; as is shown by the lines d q o, and e r p. Hence
we may conclude that the shadow n m is exposed to the blue light
d e; but, as the red light a b cannot fall there, n m will
appear as a blue shadow on a red background tinted with blue,
because on the surface s c t d both lights can fall. But in the
shadows only one single light falls; for this reason these shadows
are of medium depth, since, if no light whatever mingled with the
shadow, it would be of the first degree of darkness &c. But in the
shadow at o p the blue light does not fall, because the body q r
interposes and intercepts it there. Only the red light a b falls
there and tinges the shadow of a red hue and so a ruddy shadow
appears on the background of mingled red and blue.

The shadow of q r at o p is red, being caused by the blue light
d e; and the shadow of q r at o’ p’ is blue being caused by
the red light a b. Hence we say that the blue light in this
instance causes a red derived shadow from the opaque body q’ r’,
while the red light causes the same body to cast a blue derived
shadow; but the primary shadow [on the dark side of the body itself]
is not of either of those hues, but a mixture of red and blue.

The derived shadows will be equal in depth if they are produced by
lights of equal strength and at an equal distance; this is proved.
[Footnote 53: The text is unfinished in the original.]

[Footnote: In the original diagram Leonardo has written within the
circle q r corpo obroso (body in shadow); at the spot marked A,
luminoso azzurro
(blue luminous body); at B, luminoso rosso (red
luminous body). At E we read ombra azzurra (blue tinted shadow)
and at D ombra rossa (red tinted shadow).]

On the nature of colours (277. 278).


No white or black is transparent.



[Footnote 2: See Footnote 3] Since white is not a colour but the
neutral recipient of every colour [Footnote 3: il bianco non e
colore ma e inpotentia ricettiva d’ogni colore
(white is not a
colour, but the neutral recipient of every colour). LEON BATT.
ALBERTI “Della pittura” libro I, asserts on the contrary: “Il
bianco e’l nero non sono veri colori, ma sono alteratione delli
altri colori
” (ed. JANITSCHEK, p. 67; Vienna 1877).], when it is
seen in the open air and high up, all its shadows are bluish; and
this is caused, according to the 4th [prop.], which says: the
surface of every opaque body assumes the hue of the surrounding
objects. Now this white [body] being deprived of the light of the
sun by the interposition of some body between the sun and itself,
all that portion of it which is exposed to the sun and atmosphere
assumes the colour of the sun and atmosphere; the side on which the
sun does not fall remains in shadow and assumes the hue of the
atmosphere. And if this white object did not reflect the green of
the fields all the way to the horizon nor get the brightness of the
horizon itself, it would certainly appear simply of the same hue as
the atmosphere.

On gradations in the depth of colours (279. 280).


Since black, when painted next to white, looks no blacker than when
next to black; and white when next to black looks no whiter than
white, as is seen by the images transmitted through a small hole or
by the edges of any opaque screen …



Of several colours, all equally white, that will look whitest which
is against the darkest background. And black will look intensest
against the whitest background.

And red will look most vivid against the yellowest background; and
the same is the case with all colours when surrounded by their
strongest contrasts.

On the reflection of colours (281-283).



Every object devoid of colour in itself is more or less tinged by
the colour [of the object] placed opposite. This may be seen by
experience, inasmuch as any object which mirrors another assumes the
colour of the object mirrored in it. And if the surface thus
partially coloured is white the portion which has a red reflection
will appear red, or any other colour, whether bright or dark.


Every opaque and colourless body assumes the hue of the colour
reflected on it; as happens with a white wall.



That side of an object in light and shade which is towards the light
transmits the images of its details more distinctly and immediately
to the eye than the side which is in shadow.


The solar rays reflected on a square mirror will be thrown back to
distant objects in a circular form.


Any white and opaque surface will be partially coloured by
reflections from surrounding objects.

[Footnote 281. 282: The title line of these chapters is in the
original simply “pro”, which may be an abbreviation for either
Propositione or Prospettiva–taking Prospettiva of course in its
widest sense, as we often find it used in Leonardo’s writings. The
title “pro” has here been understood to mean Prospettiva, in
accordance with the suggestion afforded by page 10b of this same
MS., where the first section is headed Prospettiva in full (see
No. 94), while the four following sections are headed merely “pro”
(see No. 85).]



If a is the light, and b illuminated by it in a direct line,
c, on which the light cannot fall, is lighted only by reflection
from b which, let us say, is red. Hence the light reflected from
it, will be affected by the hue of the surface causing it and will
tinge the surface c with red. And if c is also red you will see
it much more intense than b; and if it were yellow you would see
there a colour between yellow and red.

On the use of dark and light colours in painting (284–286).



Since we see that the quality of colour is known [only] by means of
light, it is to be supposed that where there is most light the true
character of a colour in light will be best seen; and where there is
most shadow the colour will be affected by the tone of that. Hence,
O Painter! remember to show the true quality of colours in bright


An object represented in white and black will display stronger
relief than in any other way; hence I would remind you O Painter! to
dress your figures in the lightest colours you can, since, if you
put them in dark colours, they will be in too slight relief and
inconspicuous from a distance. And the reason is that the shadows of
all objects are dark. And if you make a dress dark there is little
variety in the lights and shadows, while in light colours there are
many grades.



Colours seen in shadow will display more or less of their natural
brilliancy in proportion as they are in fainter or deeper shadow.

But if these same colours are situated in a well-lighted place, they
will appear brighter in proportion as the light is more brilliant.


The variety of colours in shadow must be as great as that of the
colours in the objects in that shadow.


Colours seen in shadow will display less variety in proportion as
the shadows in which they lie are deeper. And evidence of this is to
be had by looking from an open space into the doorways of dark and
shadowy churches, where the pictures which are painted in various
colours all look of uniform darkness.

Hence at a considerable distance all the shadows of different
colours will appear of the same darkness.

It is the light side of an object in light and shade which shows the
true colour.

On the colours of the rainbow (287. 288).


Treat of the rainbow in the last book on Painting, but first write
the book on colours produced by the mixture of other colours, so as
to be able to prove by those painters’ colours how the colours of
the rainbow are produced.



The colours of the rainbow are not produced by the sun, for they
occur in many ways without the sunshine; as may be seen by holding a
glass of water up to the eye; when, in the glass–where there are
those minute bubbles always seen in coarse glass–each bubble, even
though the sun does not fall on it, will produce on one side all the
colours of the rainbow; as you may see by placing the glass between
the day light and your eye in such a way as that it is close to the
eye, while on one side the glass admits the [diffused] light of the
atmosphere, and on the other side the shadow of the wall on one side
of the window; either left or right, it matters not which. Then, by
turning the glass round you will see these colours all round the
bubbles in the glass &c. And the rest shall be said in its place.


In the experiment just described, the eye would seem to have some
share in the colours of the rainbow, since these bubbles in the
glass do not display the colours except through the medium of the
eye. But, if you place the glass full of water on the window sill,
in such a position as that the outer side is exposed to the sun’s
rays, you will see the same colours produced in the spot of light
thrown through the glass and upon the floor, in a dark place, below
the window; and as the eye is not here concerned in it, we may
evidently, and with certainty pronounce that the eye has no share in
producing them.


There are many birds in various regions of the world on whose
feathers we see the most splendid colours produced as they move, as
we see in our own country in the feathers of peacocks or on the
necks of ducks or pigeons, &c.

Again, on the surface of antique glass found underground and on the
roots of turnips kept for some time at the bottom of wells or other
stagnant waters [we see] that each root displays colours similar to
those of the real rainbow. They may also be seen when oil has been
placed on the top of water and in the solar rays reflected from the
surface of a diamond or beryl; again, through the angular facet of a
beryl every dark object against a background of the atmosphere or
any thing else equally pale-coloured is surrounded by these rainbow
colours between the atmosphere and the dark body; and in many other
circumstances which I will not mention, as these suffice for my


‘Prospettiva de’ colri’ (Perspective of Colour)


‘Prospettiva aerea’ (Aerial Perspective).

Leonardo distinctly separates these branches of his subject, as may
be seen in the beginning of No.
295. Attempts have been made to
cast doubts on the results which Leonardo arrived at by experiment
on the perspective of colour, but not with justice, as may be seen
from the original text of section

The question as to the composition of the atmosphere, which is
inseparable from a discussion on Aerial Perspective, forms a
separate theory which is treated at considerable length. Indeed the
author enters into it so fully that we cannot escape the conviction
that he must have dwelt with particular pleasure on this part of his
subject, and that he attached great importance to giving it a
character of general applicability.

General rules (289–291).


The variety of colour in objects cannot be discerned at a great
distance, excepting in those parts which are directly lighted up by
the solar rays.


As to the colours of objects: at long distances no difference is
perceptible in the parts in shadow.



Which colour strikes most? An object at a distance is most
conspicuous, when it is lightest, and the darkest is least visible.

An exceptional case.


Of the edges [outlines] of shadows. Some have misty and ill defined
edges, others distinct ones.

No opaque body can be devoid of light and shade, except it is in a
mist, on ground covered with snow, or when snow is falling on the
open country which has no light on it and is surrounded with

And this occurs [only] in spherical bodies, because in other bodies
which have limbs and parts, those sides of limbs which face each
other reflect on each other the accidental [hue and tone] of their

An experiment.



All colours at a distance are undistinguishable in shadow, because
an object which is not in the highest light is incapable of
transmitting its image to the eye through an atmosphere more
luminous than itself; since the lesser brightness must be absorbed
by the greater. For instance: We, in a house, can see that all the
colours on the surface of the walls are clearly and instantly
visible when the windows of the house are open; but if we were to go
out of the house and look in at the windows from a little distance
to see the paintings on those walls, instead of the paintings we
should see an uniform deep and colourless shadow.

The practice of the prospettiva de colori.



In order to put into practice this perspective of the variation and
loss or diminution of the essential character of colours, observe at
every hundred braccia some objects standing in the landscape, such
as trees, houses, men and particular places. Then in front of the
first tree have a very steady plate of glass and keep your eye very
steady, and then, on this plate of glass, draw a tree, tracing it
over the form of that tree. Then move it on one side so far as that
the real tree is close by the side of the tree you have drawn; then
colour your drawing in such a way as that in colour and form the two
may be alike, and that both, if you close one eye, seem to be
painted on the glass and at the same distance. Then, by the same
method, represent a second tree, and a third, with a distance of a
hundred braccia between each. And these will serve as a standard and
guide whenever you work on your own pictures, wherever they may
apply, and will enable you to give due distance in those works. [14]
But I have found that as a rule the second is 4/5 of the first when
it is 20 braccia beyond it.

[Footnote: This chapter is one of those copied in the Manuscript of
the Vatican library Urbinas 1270, and the original text is rendered
here with no other alterations, but in the orthography. H. LUDWIG,
in his edition of this copy translates lines 14 and 15 thus: “Ich
finde aber als Regel, dass der zweite um vier Funftel des ersten
abnimmt, wenn er namlich zwanzig Ellen vom ersten entfernt ist
. He adds in his commentary: “Das Ende der Nummer ist wohl
jedenfalls verstummelt
“. However the translation given above shows
that it admits of a different rendering.]

The rules of aerial perspective (295–297).



There is another kind of perspective which I call Aerial
Perspective, because by the atmosphere we are able to distinguish
the variations in distance of different buildings, which appear
placed on a single line; as, for instance, when we see several
buildings beyond a wall, all of which, as they appear above the top
of the wall, look of the same size, while you wish to represent them
in a picture as more remote one than another and to give the effect
of a somewhat dense atmosphere. You know that in an atmosphere of
equal density the remotest objects seen through it, as mountains, in
consequence of the great quantity of atmosphere between your eye and
them–appear blue and almost of the same hue as the atmosphere
itself [Footnote 10: quado il sole e per leuante (when the sun is
in the East). Apparently the author refers here to morning light in
general. H. LUDWIG however translates this passage from the Vatican
copy “wenn namlich die Sonne (dahinter) im Osten steht“.] when the
sun is in the East [Footnote 11: See Footnote 10]. Hence you must
make the nearest building above the wall of its real colour, but the
more distant ones make less defined and bluer. Those you wish should
look farthest away you must make proportionately bluer; thus, if one
is to be five times as distant, make it five times bluer. And by
this rule the buildings which above a [given] line appear of the
same size, will plainly be distinguished as to which are the more
remote and which larger than the others.


The medium lying between the eye and the object seen, tinges that
object with its colour, as the blueness of the atmosphere makes the
distant mountains appear blue and red glass makes objects seen
beyond it, look red. The light shed round them by the stars is
obscured by the darkness of the night which lies between the eye and
the radiant light of the stars.


Take care that the perspective of colour does not disagree with the
size of your objects, hat is to say: that the colours diminish from
their natural [vividness] in proportion as the objects at various
distances dimmish from their natural size.

On the relative density of the atmosphere (298–290).



Because the atmosphere is dense near the earth, and the higher it is
the rarer it becomes. When the sun is in the East if you look
towards the West and a little way to the South and North, you will
see that this dense atmosphere receives more light from the sun than
the rarer; because the rays meet with greater resistance. And if the
sky, as you see it, ends on a low plain, that lowest portion of the
sky will be seen through a denser and whiter atmosphere, which will
weaken its true colour as seen through that medium, and there the
sky will look whiter than it is above you, where the line of sight
travels through a smaller space of air charged with heavy vapour.
And if you turn to the East, the atmosphere will appear darker as
you look lower down because the luminous rays pass less freely
through the lower atmosphere.



It is easy to perceive that the atmosphere which lies closest to the
level ground is denser than the rest, and that where it is higher
up, it is rarer and more transparent. The lower portions of large
and lofty objects which are at a distance are not much seen, because
you see them along a line which passes through a denser and thicker
section of the atmosphere. The summits of such heights are seen
along a line which, though it starts from your eye in a dense
atmosphere, still, as it ends at the top of those lofty objects,
ceases in a much rarer atmosphere than exists at their base; for
this reason the farther this line extends from your eye, from point
to point the atmosphere becomes more and more rare. Hence, O
Painter! when you represent mountains, see that from hill to hill
the bases are paler than the summits, and in proportion as they
recede beyond each other make the bases paler than the summits;
while, the higher they are the more you must show of their true form
and colour.

On the colour of the atmosphere (300-307).



I say that the blueness we see in the atmosphere is not intrinsic
colour, but is caused by warm vapour evaporated in minute and
insensible atoms on which the solar rays fall, rendering them
luminous against the infinite darkness of the fiery sphere which
lies beyond and includes it. And this may be seen, as I saw it by
any one going up [Footnote 5: With regard to the place spoken of as
M’oboso (compare No. 301 line 20) its identity will be discussed
under Leonardo’s Topographical notes in Vol. II.] Monboso, a peak of
the Alps which divide France from Italy. The base of this mountain
gives birth to the four rivers which flow in four different
directions through the whole of Europe. And no mountain has its base
at so great a height as this, which lifts itself almost above the
clouds; and snow seldom falls there, but only hail in the summer,
when the clouds are highest. And this hail lies [unmelted] there, so
that if it were not for the absorption of the rising and falling
clouds, which does not happen twice in an age, an enormous mass of
ice would be piled up there by the hail, and in the middle of July I
found it very considerable. There I saw above me the dark sky, and
the sun as it fell on the mountain was far brighter here than in the
plains below, because a smaller extent of atmosphere lay between the
summit of the mountain and the sun. Again as an illustration of the
colour of the atmosphere I will mention the smoke of old and dry
wood, which, as it comes out of a chimney, appears to turn very
blue, when seen between the eye and the dark distance. But as it
rises, and comes between the eye and the bright atmosphere, it at
once shows of an ashy grey colour; and this happens because it no
longer has darkness beyond it, but this bright and luminous space.
If the smoke is from young, green wood, it will not appear blue,
because, not being transparent and being full of superabundant
moisture, it has the effect of condensed clouds which take distinct
lights and shadows like a solid body. The same occurs with the
atmosphere, which, when overcharged with moisture appears white, and
the small amount of heated moisture makes it dark, of a dark blue
colour; and this will suffice us so far as concerns the colour of
the atmosphere; though it might be added that, if this transparent
blue were the natural colour of the atmosphere, it would follow that
wherever a larger mass air intervened between the eye and the
element of fire, the azure colour would be more intense; as we see
in blue glass and in sapphires, which are darker in proportion as
they are larger. But the atmosphere in such circumstances behaves in
an opposite manner, inasmuch as where a greater quantity of it lies
between the eye and the sphere of fire, it is seen much whiter. This
occurs towards the horizon. And the less the extent of atmosphere
between the eye and the sphere of fire, the deeper is the blue
colour, as may be seen even on low plains. Hence it follows, as I
say, that the atmosphere assumes this azure hue by reason of the
particles of moisture which catch the rays of the sun. Again, we may
note the difference in particles of dust, or particles of smoke, in
the sun beams admitted through holes into a dark chamber, when the
former will look ash grey and the thin smoke will appear of a most
beautiful blue; and it may be seen again in in the dark shadows of
distant mountains when the air between the eye and those shadows
will look very blue, though the brightest parts of those mountains
will not differ much from their true colour. But if any one wishes
for a final proof let him paint a board with various colours, among
them an intense black; and over all let him lay a very thin and
transparent [coating of] white. He will then see that this
transparent white will nowhere show a more beautiful blue than over
the black–but it must be very thin and finely ground.

[Footnote 7: reta here has the sense of malanno.]


Experience shows us that the air must have darkness beyond it and
yet it appears blue. If you produce a small quantity of smoke from
dry wood and the rays of the sun fall on this smoke, and if you then
place behind the smoke a piece of black velvet on which the sun does
not shine, you will see that all the smoke which is between the eye
and the black stuff will appear of a beautiful blue colour. And if
instead of the velvet you place a white cloth smoke, that is too
thick smoke, hinders, and too thin smoke does not produce, the
perfection of this blue colour. Hence a moderate amount of smoke
produces the finest blue. Water violently ejected in a fine spray
and in a dark chamber where the sun beams are admitted produces
these blue rays and the more vividly if it is distilled water, and
thin smoke looks blue. This I mention in order to show that the
blueness of the atmosphere is caused by the darkness beyond it, and
these instances are given for those who cannot confirm my experience
on Monboso.


When the smoke from dry wood is seen between the eye of the
spectator and some dark space [or object], it will look blue. Thus
the sky looks blue by reason of the darkness beyond it. And if you
look towards the horizon of the sky, you will see the atmosphere is
not blue, and this is caused by its density. And thus at each
degree, as you raise your eyes above the horizon up to the sky over
your head, you will see the atmosphere look darker [blue] and this
is because a smaller density of air lies between your eye and the
[outer] darkness. And if you go to the top of a high mountain the
sky will look proportionately darker above you as the atmosphere
becomes rarer between you and the [outer] darkness; and this will be
more visible at each degree of increasing height till at last we
should find darkness.

That smoke will look bluest which rises from the driest wood and
which is nearest to the fire and is seen against the darkest
background, and with the sunlight upon it.


A dark object will appear bluest in proportion as it has a greater
mass of luminous atmosphere between it and the eye. As may be seen
in the colour of the sky.


The atmosphere is blue by reason of the darkness above it because
black and white make blue.


In the morning the mist is denser above than below, because the sun
draws it upwards; hence tall buildings, even if the summit is at the
same distance as the base have the summit invisible. Therefore,
also, the sky looks darkest [in colour] overhead, and towards the
horizon it is not blue but rather between smoke and dust colour.

The atmosphere, when full of mist, is quite devoid of blueness, and
only appears of the colour of clouds, which shine white when the
weather is fine. And the more you turn to the west the darker it
will be, and the brighter as you look to the east. And the verdure
of the fields is bluish in a thin mist, but grows grey in a dense

The buildings in the west will only show their illuminated side,
where the sun shines, and the mist hides the rest. When the sun
rises and chases away the haze, the hills on the side where it lifts
begin to grow clearer, and look blue, and seem to smoke with the
vanishing mists; and the buildings reveal their lights and shadows;
through the thinner vapour they show only their lights and through
the thicker air nothing at all. This is when the movement of the
mist makes it part horizontally, and then the edges of the mist will
be indistinct against the blue of the sky, and towards the earth it
will look almost like dust blown up. In proportion as the atmosphere
is dense the buildings of a city and the trees in a landscape will
look fewer, because only the tallest and largest will be seen.

Darkness affects every thing with its hue, and the more an object
differs from darkness, the more we see its real and natural colour.
The mountains will look few, because only those will be seen which
are farthest apart; since, at such a distance, the density increases
to such a degree that it causes a brightness by which the darkness
of the hills becomes divided and vanishes indeed towards the top.
There is less [mist] between lower and nearer hills and yet little
is to be distinguished, and least towards the bottom.


The surface of an object partakes of the colour of the light which
illuminates it; and of the colour of the atmosphere which lies
between the eye and that object, that is of the colour of the
transparent medium lying between the object and the eye; and among
colours of a similar character the second will be of the same tone
as the first, and this is caused by the increased thickness of the
colour of the medium lying between the object and the eye.


Of various colours which are none of them blue that which at a great
distance will look bluest is the nearest to black; and so,
conversely, the colour which is least like black will at a great
distance best preserve its own colour.

Hence the green of fields will assume a bluer hue than yellow or
white will, and conversely yellow or white will change less than
green, and red still less.


On the Proportions and on the Movements of the Human Figure.

Leonardo’s researches on the proportions and movements of the human
figure must have been for the most part completed and written before
the year
1498; for LUCA PACIOLO writes, in the dedication to
Ludovico il Moro, of his book
Divina Proportione, which was
published in that year:
“Leonardo da venci … hauedo gia co tutta
diligetia al degno libro de pictura e movimenti humani posto fine”.

The selection of Leonardo’s axioms contained in the Vatican copy
attributes these words to the author:
“e il resto si dira nella
universale misura del huomo”. (MANZI, p. 147; LUDWIG, No. 264).
LOMAZZO, again, in his Idea del Tempio della Pittura Milano 1590,
cap. IV, says: “Lionardo Vinci … dimostro anco in figura tutte
le proporzioni dei membri del corpo umano”.

The Vatican copy includes but very few sections of the “Universale
misura del huomo” _and until now nothing has been made known of the
original MSS. on the subject which have supplied the very extensive
materials for this portion of the work. The collection at Windsor,
belonging to her Majesty the Queen, includes by far the most
important part of Leonardo’s investigations on this subject,
constituting about half of the whole of the materials here
published; and the large number of original drawings adds greatly to
the interest which the subject itself must command. Luca Paciolo
would seem to have had these MSS. (which I have distinguished by the
initials W. P.) in his mind when he wrote the passage quoted above.
Still, certain notes of a later date–such as Nos. 360, 362 and 363,
from MS. E, written in 1513–14, sufficiently prove that Leonardo did
not consider his earlier studies on the Proportions and Movements of
the Human Figure final and complete, as we might suppose from Luca
Paciolo’s statement. Or else he took the subject up again at a
subsequent period, since his former researches had been carried on
at Milan between 1490 and 1500. Indeed it is highly probable that
the anatomical studies which he was pursuing zvith so much zeal
between 1510–16 should have led him to reconsider the subject of

Preliminary observations (308. 309).


Every man, at three years old is half the full height he will grow
to at last.


If a man 2 braccia high is too small, one of four is too tall, the
medium being what is admirable. Between 2 and 4 comes 3; therefore
take a man of 3 braccia in height and measure him by the rule I will
give you. If you tell me that I may be mistaken, and judge a man to
be well proportioned who does not conform to this division, I answer
that you must look at many men of 3 braccia, and out of the larger
number who are alike in their limbs choose one of those who are most
graceful and take your measurements. The length of the hand is 1/3
of a braccio [8 inches] and this is found 9 times in man. And the
face [Footnote 7: The account here given of the braccio is of
importance in understanding some of the succeeding chapters. Testa
must here be understood to mean the face. The statements in this
section are illustrated in part on Pl. XI.] is the same, and from
the pit of the throat to the shoulder, and from the shoulder to the
nipple, and from one nipple to the other, and from each nipple to
the pit of the throat.

Proportions of the head and face (310-318).


The space between the parting of the lips [the mouth] and the base
of the nose is one-seventh of the face.

The space from the mouth to the bottom of the chin c d is the
fourth part of the face and equal to the width of the mouth.

The space from the chin to the base of the nose e f is the third
part of the face and equal to the length of the nose and to the

The distance from the middle of the nose to the bottom of the chin
g h, is half the length of the face.

The distance from the top of the nose, where the eyebrows begin, to
the bottom of the chin, i k, is two thirds of the face.

The space from the parting of the lips to the top of the chin l m,
that is where the chin ends and passes into the lower lip of the
mouth, is the third of the distance from the parting of the lips to
the bottom of the chin and is the twelfth part of the face. From the
top to the bottom of the chin m n is the sixth part of the face
and is the fifty fourth part of a man’s height.

From the farthest projection of the chin to the throat o p is
equal to the space between the mouth and the bottom of the chin, and
a fourth of the face.

The distance from the top of the throat to the pit of the throat
below q r is half the length of the face and the eighteenth part
of a man’s height.

From the chin to the back of the neck s t, is the same distance as
between the mouth and the roots of the hair, that is three quarters
of the head.

From the chin to the jaw bone v x is half the head and equal to
the thickness of the neck in profile.

The thickness of the head from the brow to the nape is once and 3/4
that of the neck.

[Footnote: The drawings to this text, lines 1-10 are on Pl. VII, No.
I. The two upper sketches of heads, Pl. VII, No. 2, belong to lines
11-14, and in the original are placed immediately below the sketches
reproduced on Pl. VII, No. 1.]


The distance from the attachment of one ear to the other is equal to
that from the meeting of the eyebrows to the chin, and in a fine
face the width of the mouth is equal to the length from the parting
of the lips to the bottom of the chin.


The cut or depression below the lower lip of the mouth is half way
between the bottom of the nose and the bottom of the chin.

The face forms a square in itself; that is its width is from the
outer corner of one eye to the other, and its height is from the
very top of the nose to the bottom of the lower lip of the mouth;
then what remains above and below this square amounts to the height
of such another square, a b is equal to the space between c
d; d n in the same way to n c, and likewise s r, q
p, h k are equal to each other.

It is as far between m and s as from the bottom of the nose to
the chin. The ear is exactly as long as the nose. It is as far from
x to j as from the nose to the chin. The parting of the mouth
seen in profile slopes to the angle of the jaw. The ear should be as
high as from the bottom of the nose to the top of the eye-lid. The
space between the eyes is equal to the width of an eye. The ear is
over the middle of the neck, when seen in profile. The distance from
4 to 5 is equal to that from s_ to r.

[Footnote: See Pl. VIII, No. I, where the text of lines 3-13 is also
given in facsimile.]


(a b) is equal to (c d).

[Footnote: See Pl. VII, No. 3. Reference may also be made here to
two pen and ink drawings of heads in profile with figured
measurements, of which there is no description in the MS. These are
given on Pl. XVII, No. 2.–A head, to the left, with part of the
torso [W. P. 5a], No. 1 on the same plate is from MS. A 2b and in
the original occurs on a page with wholly irrelevant text on matters
of natural history. M. RAVAISSON in his edition of the Paris MS. A
has reproduced this head and discussed it fully [note on page 12];
he has however somewhat altered the original measurements. The
complicated calculations which M. RAVAISSON has given appear to me
in no way justified. The sketch, as we see it, can hardly have been
intended for any thing more than an experimental attempt to
ascertain relative proportions. We do not find that Leonardo made
use of circular lines in any other study of the proportions of the
human head. At the same time we see that the proportions of this
sketch are not in accordance with the rules which he usually
observed (see for instance No. 310).]

The head a f 1/6 larger than n f.


From the eyebrow to the junction of the lip with the chin, and the
angle of the jaw and the upper angle where the ear joins the temple
will be a perfect square. And each side by itself is half the head.

The hollow of the cheek bone occurs half way between the tip of the
nose and the top of the jaw bone, which is the lower angle of the
setting on of the ear, in the frame here represented.

From the angle of the eye-socket to the ear is as far as the length
of the ear, or the third of the face.

[Footnote: See Pl. IX. The text, in the original is written behind
the head. The handwriting would seem to indicate a date earlier than
1480. On the same leaf there is a drawing in red chalk of two
horsemen of which only a portion of the upper figure is here
visible. The whole leaf measures 22 1/2 centimetres wide by 29 long,
and is numbered 127 in the top right-hand corner.]


From a to b–that is to say from the roots of the hair in front
to the top of the head–ought to be equal to c d;–that is from
the bottom of the nose to the meeting of the lips in the middle of
the mouth. From the inner corner of the eye m to the top of the
head a is as far as from m down to the chin s. s c f b
are all at equal distances from each other.

[Footnote: The drawing in silver-point on bluish tinted paper–Pl.
X–which belongs to this chapter has been partly drawn over in ink
by Leonardo himself.]


From the top of the head to the bottom of the chin is 1/9, and from
the roots of the hair to the chin is 1/9 of the distance from the
roots of the hair to the ground. The greatest width of the face is
equal to the space between the mouth and the roots of the hair and
is 1/12 of the whole height. From the top of the ear to the top of
the head is equal to the distance from the bottom of the chin to the
lachrymatory duct of the eye; and also equal to the distance from
the angle of the chin to that of the jaw; that is the 1/16 of the
whole. The small cartilage which projects over the opening of the
ear towards the nose is half-way between the nape and the eyebrow;
the thickness of the neck in profile is equal to the space between
the chin and the eyes, and to the space between the chin and the
jaw, and it is 1/18 of the height of the man.


a b, c d, e f, g h, i k are equal to each other in size
excepting that d f is accidental.

[Footnote: See Pl. XI.]

Proportions of the head seen in front (319-321).


a n o f are equal to the mouth.

a c and a f are equal to the space between one eye and the

n m o f q r are equal to half the width of the eye lids, that is
from the inner [lachrymatory] corner of the eye to its outer corner;
and in like manner the division between the chin and the mouth; and
in the same way the narrowest part of the nose between the eyes. And
these spaces, each in itself, is the 19th part of the head, n o is
equal to the length of the eye or of the space between the eyes.

m c is 1/3 of n m measuring from the outer corner of the eyelids
to the letter c. b s will be equal to the width of the nostril.

[Footnote: See Pl. XII.]


The distance between the centres of the pupils of the eyes is 1/3 of
the face. The space between the outer corners of the eyes, that is
where the eye ends in the eye socket which contains it, thus the
outer corners, is half the face.

The greatest width of the face at the line of the eyes is equal to
the distance from the roots of the hair in front to the parting of
the lips.

[Footnote: There are, with this section, two sketches of eyes, not
reproduced here.]


The nose will make a double square; that is the width of the nose at
the nostrils goes twice into the length from the tip of the nose to
the eyebrows. And, in the same way, in profile the distance from the
extreme side of the nostril where it joins the cheek to the tip of
the nose is equal to the width of the nose in front from one nostril
to the other. If you divide the whole length of the nose–that is
from the tip to the insertion of the eyebrows, into 4 equal parts,
you will find that one of these parts extends from the tip of the
nostrils to the base of the nose, and the upper division lies
between the inner corner of the eye and the insertion of the
eyebrows; and the two middle parts [together] are equal to the
length of the eye from the inner to the outer corner.

[Footnote: The two bottom sketches on Pl. VII, No. 4 face the six
lines of this section,–With regard to the proportions of the head
in profile see No. 312.]


The great toe is the sixth part of the foot, taking the measure in
profile, on the inside of the foot, from where this toe springs from
the ball of the sole of the foot to its tip a b; and it is equal
to the distance from the mouth to the bottom of the chin. If you
draw the foot in profile from the outside, make the little toe begin
at three quarters of the length of the foot, and you will find the
same distance from the insertion of this toe as to the farthest
prominence of the great toe.


For each man respectively the distance between a b is equal to c


Relative proportion of the hand and foot.

The foot is as much longer than the hand as the thickness of the arm
at the wrist where it is thinnest seen facing.

Again, you will find that the foot is as much longer than the hand
as the space between the inner angle of the little toe to the last
projection of the big toe, if you measure along the length of the

The palm of the hand without the fingers goes twice into the length
of the foot without the toes.

If you hold your hand with the fingers straight out and close
together you will find it to be of the same width as the widest part
of the foot, that is where it is joined onto the toes.

And if you measure from the prominence of the inner ancle to the end
of the great toe you will find this measure to be as long as the
whole hand.

From the top angle of the foot to the insertion of the toes is equal
to the hand from wrist joint to the tip of the thumb.

The smallest width of the hand is equal to the smallest width of the
foot between its joint into the leg and the insertion of the toes.

The width of the heel at the lower part is equal to that of the arm
where it joins the hand; and also to the leg where it is thinnest
when viewed in front.

The length of the longest toe, from its first division from the
great toe to its tip is the fourth of the foot from the centre of
the ancle bone to the tip, and it is equal to the width of the
mouth. The distance between the mouth and the chin is equal to that
of the knuckles and of the three middle fingers and to the length of
their first joints if the hand is spread, and equal to the distance
from the joint of the thumb to the outset of the nails, that is the
fourth part of the hand and of the face.

The space between the extreme poles inside and outside the foot
called the ancle or ancle bone a b is equal to the space between
the mouth and the inner corner of the eye.


The foot, from where it is attached to the leg, to the tip of the
great toe is as long as the space between the upper part of the chin
and the roots of the hair a b; and equal to five sixths of the


a d is a head’s length, c b is a head’s length. The four smaller
toes are all equally thick from the nail at the top to the bottom,
and are 1/13 of the foot.

[Footnote: See Pl. XIV, No. 1, a drawing of a foot with the text in
three lines below it.]


The whole length of the foot will lie between the elbow and the
wrist and between the elbow and the inner angle of the arm towards
the breast when the arm is folded. The foot is as long as the whole
head of a man, that is from under the chin to the topmost part of
the head[Footnote 2: nel modo che qui i figurato. See Pl. VII, No.
4, the upper figure. The text breaks off at the end of line 2 and
the text given under No. 321 follows below. It may be here remarked
that the second sketch on W. P. 311 has in the original no
explanatory text.] in the way here figured.

Proportions of the leg (328-331).


The greatest thickness of the calf of the leg is at a third of its
height a b, and is a twentieth part thicker than the greatest
thickness of the foot.

a c is half of the head, and equal to d b and to the insertion
of the five toes e f. d k diminishes one sixth in the leg g h.
g h is 1/3 of the head; m n increases one sixth from a e and
is 7/12 of the head, o p is 1/10 less than d k and is 6/17 of
the head. a is at half the distance between b q, and is 1/4 of
the man. r is half way between s and b[Footnote 11: b is
here and later on measured on the right side of the foot as seen by
the spectator.]. The concavity of the knee outside r is higher
than that inside a. The half of the whole height of the leg from
the foot r, is half way between the prominence s and the ground
b. v is half way between t and b. The thickness of the thigh
seen in front is equal to the greatest width of the face, that is
2/3 of the length from the chin to the top of the head; z r is 5/6
of 7 to v; m n is equal to 7 v and is 1/4 of r b, x y goes
3 times into r b, and into r s.

[Footnote 22-35: The sketch illustrating these lines is on Pl. XIII,
No. 2.]

[Footnote 22: a b entra in c f 6 e 6 in c n. Accurate
measurement however obliges us to read 7 for 6.] a b goes six
times into c f and six times into c n and is equal to g h; i
k l m
goes 4 times into d f, and 4 times into d n and is 3/7 of
the foot; p q r s goes 3 times into d f, and 3 times into _b n;
[Footnote: 25. y is not to be found on the diagram and x occurs
twice; this makes the passage very obscure.] x y is 1/8 of x f
and is equal to n q. 3 7 is 1/9 of n f; 4 5 is 1/10 of n f
[Footnote: 22-27. Compare with this lines 18-24 of No. 331, and the
sketch of a leg in profile Pl. XV.].

I want to know how much a man increases in height by standing on
tip-toe and how much p g diminishes by stooping; and how much it
increases at n q likewise in bending the foot.

[Footnote 34: e f 4 dal cazo. By reading i for e the sense
of this passage is made clear.] e f is four times in the distance
between the genitals and the sole of the foot; [Footnote 35: 2 is
not to be found in the sketch which renders the passage obscure. The
two last lines are plainly legible in the facsimile.] 3 7 is six
times from 3 to 2 and is equal to g h and i k.

[Footnote: The drawing of a leg seen in front Pl. XIII, No. 1
belongs to the text from lines 3-21. The measurements in this
section should be compared with the text No. 331, lines 1-13, and
the sketch of a leg seen in front on Pl. XV.]


The length of the foot from the end of the toes to the heel goes
twice into that from the heel to the knee, that is where the leg
bone [fibula] joins the thigh bone [femur].


a n b are equal; c n d are equal; n c makes two feet; n d
makes 2 feet.

[Footnote: See the lower sketch, Pl. XIV, No. 1.]


m n o are equal. The narrowest width of the leg seen in front goes
8 times from the sole of the foot to the joint of the knee, and is
the same width as the arm, seen in front at the wrist, and as the
longest measure of the ear, and as the three chief divisions into
which we divide the face; and this measurement goes 4 times from the
wrist joint of the hand to the point of the elbow. [14] The foot is
as long as the space from the knee between a and b; and the
patella of the knee is as long as the leg between r and s.

[18] The least thickness of the leg in profile goes 6 times from the
sole of the foot to the knee joint and is the same width as the
space between the outer corner of the eye and the opening of the
ear, and as the thickest part of the arm seen in profile and between
the inner corner of the eye and the insertion of the hair.

a b c [d] are all relatively of equal length, c d goes twice
from the sole of the foot to the centre of the knee and the same
from the knee to the hip.

[28]a b c are equal; a to b is 2 feet–that is to say
measuring from the heel to the tip of the great toe.

[Footnote: See Pl. XV. The text of lines 2-17 is to the left of the
front view of the leg, to which it refers. Lines 18-27 are in the
middle column and refer to the leg seen in profile and turned to the
left, on the right hand side of the writing. Lines 20-30 are above,
to the left and apply to the sketch below them.

Some farther remarks on the proportion of the leg will be found in
No. 336, lines 6, 7.]

On the central point of the whole body.


In kneeling down a man will lose the fourth part of his height.

When a man kneels down with his hands folded on his breast the navel
will mark half his height and likewise the points of the elbows.

Half the height of a man who sits–that is from the seat to the top
of the head–will be where the arms fold below the breast, and
below the shoulders. The seated portion–that is from the seat to
the top of the head–will be more than half the man’s [whole height]
by the length of the scrotum.

[Footnote: See Pl. VIII, No. 2.]

The relative proportions of the torso and of the whole figure.


The cubit is one fourth of the height of a man and is equal to the
greatest width of the shoulders. From the joint of one shoulder to
the other is two faces and is equal to the distance from the top of
the breast to the navel. [Footnote 9: dalla detta somita. It would
seem more accurate to read here dal detto ombilico.] From this
point to the genitals is a face’s length.

[Footnote: Compare with this the sketches on the other page of the
same leaf. Pl. VIII, No. 2.]

The relative proportions of the head and of the torso.


From the roots of the hair to the top of the breast a b is the
sixth part of the height of a man and this measure is equal.

From the outside part of one shoulder to the other is the same
distance as from the top of the breast to the navel and this measure
goes four times from the sole of the foot to the lower end of the

The [thickness of] the arm where it springs from the shoulder in
front goes 6 times into the space between the two outside edges of
the shoulders and 3 times into the face, and four times into the
length of the foot and three into the hand, inside or outside.

[Footnote: The three sketches Pl. XIV, No. 2 belong to this text.]

The relative proportions of the torso and of the leg (335. 336).


a b c are equal to each other and to the space from the armpit of
the shoulder to the genitals and to the distance from the tip of the
fingers of the hand to the joint of the arm, and to the half of the
breast; and you must know that c b is the third part of the height
of a man from the shoulders to the ground; d e f are equal to each
other and equal to the greatest width of the shoulders.

[Footnote: See Pl. XVI, No. 1.]


–Top of the chin–hip–the insertion of the middle finger. The end
of the calf of the leg on the inside of the thigh.–The end of the
swelling of the shin bone of the leg. [6] The smallest thickness of
the leg goes 3 times into the thigh seen in front.

[Footnote: See Pl. XVII, No. 2, middle sketch.]

The relative proportions of the torso and of the foot.


The torso a b in its thinnest part measures a foot; and from a
to b is 2 feet, which makes two squares to the seat–its thinnest
part goes 3 times into the length, thus making 3 squares.

[Footnote: See Pl, VII, No. 2, the lower sketch.]

The proportions of the whole figure (338-341).


A man when he lies down is reduced to 1/9 of his height.


The opening of the ear, the joint of the shoulder, that of the hip
and the ancle are in perpendicular lines; a n is equal to m o.

[Footnote: See Pl. XVI, No. 2, the upper sketch.]


From the chin to the roots of the hair is 1/10 of the whole figure.
From the joint of the palm of the hand to the tip of the longest
finger is 1/10. From the chin to the top of the head 1/8; and from
the pit of the stomach to the top of the breast is 1/6, and from the
pit below the breast bone to the top of the head 1/4. From the chin
to the nostrils 1/3 Part of the face, the same from the nostrils to
the brow and from the brow to the roots of the hair, and the foot is
1/6, the elbow 1/4, the width of the shoulders 1/4.


The width of the shoulders is 1/4 of the whole. From the joint of
the shoulder to the hand is 1/3, from the parting of the lips to
below the shoulder-blade is one foot.

The greatest thickness of a man from the breast to the spine is one
8th of his height and is equal to the space between the bottom of
the chin and the top of the head.

The greatest width is at the shoulders and goes 4.

The torso from the front and back.


The width of a man under the arms is the same as at the hips.

A man’s width across the hips is equal to the distance from the top
of the hip to the bottom of the buttock, when a man stands equally
balanced on both feet; and there is the same distance from the top
of the hip to the armpit. The waist, or narrower part above the hips
will be half way between the arm pits and the bottom of the buttock.

[Footnote: The lower sketch Pl. XVI, No. 2, is drawn by the side of
line 1.]

Vitruvius’ scheme of proportions.


Vitruvius, the architect, says in his work on architecture that the
measurements of the human body are distributed by Nature as follows:
that is that 4 fingers make 1 palm, and 4 palms make 1 foot, 6 palms
make 1 cubit; 4 cubits make a man’s height. And 4 cubits make one
pace and 24 palms make a man; and these measures he used in his
buildings. If you open your legs so much as to decrease your height
1/14 and spread and raise your arms till your middle fingers touch
the level of the top of your head you must know that the centre of
the outspread limbs will be in the navel and the space between the
legs will be an equilateral triangle.

The length of a man’s outspread arms is equal to his height.

From the roots of the hair to the bottom of the chin is the tenth of
a man’s height; from the bottom of the chin to the top of his head
is one eighth of his height; from the top of the breast to the top
of his head will be one sixth of a man. From the top of the breast
to the roots of the hair will be the seventh part of the whole man.
From the nipples to the top of the head will be the fourth part of a
man. The greatest width of the shoulders contains in itself the
fourth part of the man. From the elbow to the tip of the hand will
be the fifth part of a man; and from the elbow to the angle of the
armpit will be the eighth part of the man. The whole hand will be
the tenth part of the man; the beginning of the genitals marks the
middle of the man. The foot is the seventh part of the man. From the
sole of the foot to below the knee will be the fourth part of the
man. From below the knee to the beginning of the genitals will be
the fourth part of the man. The distance from the bottom of the chin
to the nose and from the roots of the hair to the eyebrows is, in
each case the same, and like the ear, a third of the face.

[Footnote: See Pl. XVIII. The original leaf is 21 centimetres wide
and 33 1/2 long. At the ends of the scale below the figure are
written the words diti (fingers) and palmi (palms). The passage
quoted from Vitruvius is Book III, Cap. 1, and Leonardo’s drawing is
given in the editions of Vitruvius by FRA GIOCONDO (Venezia 1511,
fol., Firenze 1513, 8vo.) and by CESARIANO (Como 1521).]

The arm and head.


From b to a is one head, as well as from c to a and this
happens when the elbow forms a right angle.

[Footnote: See Pl. XLI, No. 1.]

Proportions of the arm (345-349).


From the tip of the longest finger of the hand to the shoulder joint
is four hands or, if you will, four faces.

a b c are equal and each interval is 2 heads.

[Footnote: Lines 1-3 are given on Pl. XV below the front view of the
leg; lines 4 and 5 are below again, on the left side. The lettering
refers to the bent arm near the text.]


The hand from the longest finger to the wrist joint goes 4 times
from the tip of the longest finger to the shoulder joint.


a b c are equal to each other and to the foot and to the space
between the nipple and the navel d e will be the third part of the
whole man.

f g is the fourth part of a man and is equal to g h and measures
a cubit.

[Footnote: See Pl. XIX, No. 1. 1. mamolino (=bambino, little
child) may mean here the navel.]


a b goes 4 times into a c and 9 into a m. The greatest
thickness of the arm between the elbow and the hand goes 6 times
into a m and is equal to r f. The greatest thickness of the arm
between the shoulder and the elbow goes 4 times into c m, and is
equal to h n g. The smallest thickness of the arm above the elbow
x y is not the base of a square, but is equal to half the space
h 3 which is found between the inner joint of the arm and the
wrist joint.

[11]The width of the wrist goes 12 times into the whole arm; that is
from the tip of the fingers to the shoulder joint; that is 3 times
into the hand and 9 into the arm.

The arm when bent is 4 heads.

The arm from the shoulder to the elbow in bending increases in
length, that is in the length from the shoulder to the elbow, and
this increase is equal to the thickness of the arm at the wrist when
seen in profile. And the space between the bottom of the chin and
the parting of the lips, is equal to the thickness of the 2 middle
fingers, and to the width of the mouth and to the space between the
roots of the hair on the forehead and the top of the head [Footnote:
Queste cose. This passage seems to have been written on purpose to
rectify the foregoing lines. The error is explained by the
accompanying sketch of the bones of the arm.]. All these distances
are equal to each other, but they are not equal to the
above-mentioned increase in the arm.

The arm between the elbow and wrist never increases by being bent or

The arm, from the shoulder to the inner joint when extended.

When the arm is extended, p n is equal to n a. And when it is
bent n a diminishes 1/6 of its length and p n does the same. The
outer elbow joint increases 1/7 when bent; and thus by being bent it
increases to the length of 2 heads. And on the inner side, by
bending, it is found that whereas the arm from where it joins the
side to the wrist, was 2 heads and a half, in bending it loses the
half head and measures only two: one from the [shoulder] joint to
the end [by the elbow], and the other to the hand.

The arm when folded will measure 2 faces up to the shoulder from the
elbow and 2 from the elbow to the insertion of the four fingers on
the palm of the hand. The length from the base of the fingers to the
elbow never alters in any position of the arm.

If the arm is extended it decreases by 1/3 of the length between b
and h; and if–being extended–it is bent, it will increase the
half of o e. [Footnote 59-61: The figure sketched in the margin is
however drawn to different proportions.] The length from the
shoulder to the elbow is the same as from the base of the thumb,
inside, to the elbow a b c.

[Footnote 62-64: The arm sketch on the margin of the MS. is
identically the same as that given below on Pl. XX which may
therefore be referred to in this place. In line 62 we read therefore
z c for m n.] The smallest thickness of the arm in profile z c
goes 6 times between the knuckles of the hand and the dimple of the
elbow when extended and 14 times in the whole arm and 42 in the
whole man [64]. The greatest thickness of the arm in profile is
equal to the greatest thickness of the arm in front; but the first
is placed at a third of the arm from the shoulder joint to the elbow
and the other at a third from the elbow towards the hand.

[Footnote: Compare Pl. XVII. Lines 1-10 and 11-15 are written in two
columns below the extended arm, and at the tips of the fingers we
find the words: fine d’unghie (ends of the nails). Part of the
text–lines 22 to 25–is visible by the side of the sketches on Pl.
XXXV, No. 1.]


From the top of the shoulder to the point of the elbow is as far as
from that point to the joints of the four fingers with the palm of
the hand, and each is 2 faces.

[5]a e is equal to the palm of the hand, r f and o g are equal
to half a head and each goes 4 times into a b and b c. From c
to m is 1/2 a head; m n is 1/3 of a head and goes 6 times into
c b and into b a; a b loses 1/7 of its length when the arm is
extended; c b never alters; o will always be the middle point
between a and s.

y l is the fleshy part of the arm and measures one head; and when
the arm is bent this shrinks 2/5 of its length; o a in bending
loses 1/6 and so does o r.

a b is 1/7 of r c. f s will be 1/8 of r c, and each of those
2 measurements is the largest of the arm; k h is the thinnest part
between the shoulder and the elbow and it is 1/8 of the whole arm r
; o p is 1/5 of r l; c z goes 13 times into r c.

[Footnote: See Pl. XX where the text is also seen from lines 5-23.]

The movement of the arm (350-354).


In the innermost bend of the joints of every limb the reliefs are
converted into a hollow, and likewise every hollow of the innermost
bends becomes a convexity when the limb is straightened to the
utmost. And in this very great mistakes are often made by those who
have insufficient knowledge and trust to their own invention and do
not have recourse to the imitation of nature; and these variations
occur more in the middle of the sides than in front, and more at the
back than at the sides.


When the arm is bent at an angle at the elbow, it will produce some
angle; the more acute the angle is, the more will the muscles within
the bend be shortened; while the muscles outside will become of
greater length than before. As is shown in the example; d c e will
shrink considerably; and b n will be much extended.

[Footnote: See Pl. XIX, No. 2.]



The arm, as it turns, thrusts back its shoulder towards the middle
of the back.


The principal movements of the hand are 10; that is forwards,
backwards, to right and to left, in a circular motion, up or down,
to close and to open, and to spread the fingers or to press them



The movements of the fingers principally consist in extending and
bending them. This extension and bending vary in manner; that is,
sometimes they bend altogether at the first joint; sometimes they
bend, or extend, half way, at the 2nd joint; and sometimes they bend
in their whole length and in all the three joints at once. If the 2
first joints are hindered from bending, then the 3rd joint can be
bent with greater ease than before; it can never bend of itself, if
the other joints are free, unless all three joints are bent. Besides
all these movements there are 4 other principal motions of which 2
are up and down, the two others from side to side; and each of these
is effected by a single tendon. From these there follow an infinite
number of other movements always effected by two tendons; one tendon
ceasing to act, the other takes up the movement. The tendons are
made thick inside the fingers and thin outside; and the tendons
inside are attached to every joint but outside they are not.

[Footnote 26: This head line has, in the original, no text to
follow.] Of the strength [and effect] of the 3 tendons inside the
fingers at the 3 joints.

The movement of the torso (355-361).


Observe the altered position of the shoulder in all the movements of
the arm, going up and down, inwards and outwards, to the back and to
the front, and also in circular movements and any others.

And do the same with reference to the neck, hands and feet and the
breast above the lips &c.


Three are the principal muscles of the shoulder, that is b c d,
and two are the lateral muscles which move it forward and backward,
that is a o; a moves it forward, and o pulls it back; and bed
raises it; a b c moves it upwards and forwards, and c d o
upwards and backwards. Its own weight almost suffices to move it

The muscle d acts with the muscle c when the arm moves forward;
and in moving backward the muscle b acts with the muscle c.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXI. In the original the lettering has been
written in ink upon the red chalk drawing and the outlines of the
figures have in most places been inked over.]



The loins or backbone being bent. The breasts are are always lower
than the shoulderblades of the back.

If the breast bone is arched the breasts are higher than the

If the loins are upright the breast will always be found at the same
level as the shoulderblades.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXII, No. 1.]


a b the tendon and ankle in raising the heel approach each other
by a finger’s breadth; in lowering it they separate by a finger’s

[Footnote: See Pl. XXII, No. 2. Compare this facsimile and text with
Pl. III, No. 2, and p. 152 of MANZI’S edition. Also with No. 274 of
LUDWIG’S edition of the Vatican Copy.]


Just so much as the part d a of the nude figure decreases in this
position so much does the opposite part increase; that is: in
proportion as the length of the part d a diminishes the normal
size so does the opposite upper part increase beyond its [normal]
size. The navel does not change its position to the male organ; and
this shrinking arises because when a figure stands on one foot, that
foot becomes the centre [of gravity] of the superimposed weight.
This being so, the middle between the shoulders is thrust above it
out of it perpendicular line, and this line, which forms the central
line of the external parts of the body, becomes bent at its upper
extremity [so as to be] above the foot which supports the body; and
the transverse lines are forced into such angles that their ends are
lower on the side which is supported. As is shown at a b c.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXII, No. 3.]



Note in the motions and attitudes of figures how the limbs vary, and
their feeling, for the shoulderblades in the motions of the arms and
shoulders vary the [line of the] back bone very much. And you will
find all the causes of this in my book of Anatomy.



The pit of the throat is over the feet, and by throwing one arm
forward the pit of the throat is thrown off that foot. And if the
leg is thrown forward the pit of the throat is thrown forward; and.
so it varies in every attitude.



Indicate which are the muscles, and which the tendons, which become
prominent or retreat in the different movements of each limb; or
which do neither [but are passive]. And remember that these
indications of action are of the first importance and necessity in
any painter or sculptor who professes to be a master &c.

And indicate the same in a child, and from birth to decrepitude at
every stage of its life; as infancy, childhood, boyhood, youth &c.

And in each express the alterations in the limbs and joints, which
swell and which grow thinner.


O Anatomical Painter! beware lest the too strong indication of the
bones, sinews and muscles, be the cause of your becoming wooden in
your painting by your wish to make your nude figures display all
their feeling. Therefore, in endeavouring to remedy this, look in
what manner the muscles clothe or cover their bones in old or lean
persons; and besides this, observe the rule as to how these same
muscles fill up the spaces of the surface that extend between them,
which are the muscles which never lose their prominence in any
amount of fatness; and which too are the muscles of which the
attachments are lost to sight in the very least plumpness. And in
many cases several muscles look like one single muscle in the
increase of fat; and in many cases, in growing lean or old, one
single muscle divides into several muscles. And in this treatise,
each in its place, all their peculiarities will be explained–and
particularly as to the spaces between the joints of each limb &c.
Again, do not fail [to observe] the variations in the forms of the
above mentioned muscles, round and about the joints of the limbs of
any animal, as caused by the diversity of the motions of each limb;
for on some side of those joints the prominence of these muscles is
wholly lost in the increase or diminution of the flesh of which
these muscles are composed, &c.

[Footnote: DE ROSSI remarks on this chapter, in the Roman edition of
the Trattato, p. 504: “Non in questo luogo solo, ma in altri ancora
osserverà il lettore, che Lionardo va fungendo quelli che fanno
abuso della loro dottrina anatomica, e sicuramente con ciò ha in
mira il suo rivale Bonarroti, che di anatomia facea tanta pompa
Note, that Leonardo wrote this passage in Rome, probably under the
immediate impression of MICHAELANGELO’S paintings in the Sistine
Chapel and of RAPHAEL’S Isaiah in Sant’ Agostino.]



There is a great difference in the length between the joints in men
and boys for, in man, from the top of the shoulder [by the neck] to
the elbow, and from the elbow to the tip of the thumb and from one
shoulder to the other, is in each instance two heads, while in a boy
it is but one because Nature constructs in us the mass which is the
home of the intellect, before forming that which contains the vital



Which are the muscles which subdivide in old age or in youth, when
becoming lean? Which are the parts of the limbs of the human frame
where no amount of fat makes the flesh thicker, nor any degree of
leanness ever diminishes it?

The thing sought for in this question will be found in all the
external joints of the bones, as the shoulder, elbow, wrists,
finger-joints, hips, knees, ankle-bone and toes and the like; all of
which shall be told in its place. The greatest thickness acquired by
any limb is at the part of the muscles which is farthest from its

Flesh never increases on those portions of the limb where the bones
are near to the surface.

At b r d a c e f the increase or diminution of the flesh never
makes any considerable difference. Nature has placed in front of man
all those parts which feel most pain under a blow; and these are the
shin of the leg, the forehead, and the nose. And this was done for
the preservation of man, since, if such pain were not felt in these
parts, the number of blows to which they would be exposed must be
the cause of their destruction.

Describe why the bones of the arm and leg are double near the hand
and foot [respectively].

And where the flesh is thicker or thinner in the bending of the



Every part of the whole must be in proportion to the whole. Thus, if
a man is of a stout short figure he will be the same in all his
parts: that is with short and thick arms, wide thick hands, with
short fingers with their joints of the same character, and so on
with the rest. I would have the same thing understood as applying to
all animals and plants; in diminishing, [the various parts] do so in
due proportion to the size, as also in enlarging.



And again, remember to be very careful in giving your figures limbs,
that they must appear to agree with the size of the body and
likewise to the age. Thus a youth has limbs that are not very
muscular not strongly veined, and the surface is delicate and round,
and tender in colour. In man the limbs are sinewy and muscular,
while in old men the surface is wrinkled, rugged and knotty, and the
sinews very prominent.


Little children have all the joints slender and the portions between
them are thick; and this happens because nothing but the skin covers
the joints without any other flesh and has the character of sinew,
connecting the bones like a ligature. And the fat fleshiness is laid
on between one joint and the next, and between the skin and the
bones. But, since the bones are thicker at the joints than between
them, as a mass grows up the flesh ceases to have that superfluity
which it had, between the skin and the bones; whence the skin clings
more closely to the bone and the limbs grow more slender. But since
there is nothing over the joints but the cartilaginous and sinewy
skin this cannot dry up, and, not drying up, cannot shrink. Thus,
and for this reason, children are slender at the joints and fat
between the joints; as may be seen in the joints of the fingers,
arms, and shoulders, which are slender and dimpled, while in man on
the contrary all the joints of the fingers, arms, and legs are
thick; and wherever children have hollows men have prominences.

The movement of the human figure (368-375).


Of the manner of representing the 18 actions of man. Repose,
movement, running, standing, supported, sitting, leaning, kneeling,
lying down, suspended. Carrying or being carried, thrusting,
pulling, striking, being struck, pressing down and lifting up.

[As to how a figure should stand with a weight in its hand [Footnote
8: The original text ends here.] Remember].


A sitting man cannot raise himself if that part of his body which is
front of his axis [centre of gravity] does not weigh more than that
which is behind that axis [or centre] without using his arms.

A man who is mounting any slope finds that he must involuntarily
throw the most weight forward, on the higher foot, rather than
behind–that is in front of the axis and not behind it. Hence a man
will always, involuntarily, throw the greater weight towards the
point whither he desires to move than in any other direction.

The faster a man runs, the more he leans forward towards the point
he runs to and throws more weight in front of his axis than behind.
A man who runs down hill throws the axis onto his heels, and one who
runs up hill throws it into the points of his feet; and a man
running on level ground throws it first on his heels and then on the
points of his feet.

This man cannot carry his own weight unless, by drawing his body
back he balances the weight in front, in such a way as that the foot
on which he stands is the centre of gravity.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXII, No. 4.]


How a man proceeds to raise himself to his feet, when he is sitting
on level ground.


A man when walking has his head in advance of his feet.

A man when walking across a long level plain first leans [rather]
backwards and then as much forwards.

[Footnote 3-6: He strides forward with the air of a man going down
hill; when weary, on the contrary he walks like a man going up


A man when running throws less weight on his legs than when standing
still. And in the same way a horse which is running feels less the
weight of the man he carries. Hence many persons think it wonderful
that, in running, the horse can rest on one single foot. From this
it may be stated that when a weight is in progressive motion the
more rapid it is the less is the perpendicular weight towards the


If a man, in taking a jump from firm ground, can leap 3 braccia, and
when he was taking his leap it were to recede 1/3 of a braccio, that
would be taken off his former leap; and so if it were thrust forward
1/3 of a braccio, by how much would his leap be increased?



When a man who is running wants to neutralise the impetus that
carries him on he prepares a contrary impetus which is generated by
his hanging backwards. This can be proved, since, if the impetus
carries a moving body with a momentum equal to 4 and the moving body
wants to turn and fall back with a momentum of 4, then one momentum
neutralises the other contrary one, and the impetus is neutralised.

Of walking up and down (375-379)


When a man wants to stop running and check the impetus he is forced
to hang back and take short quick steps. [Footnote: Lines 5-31 refer
to the two upper figures, and the lower figure to the right is
explained by the last part of the chapter.] The centre of gravity of
a man who lifts one of his feet from the ground always rests on the
centre of the sole of the foot [he stands on].

A man, in going up stairs involuntarily throws so much weight
forward and on the side of the upper foot as to be a counterpoise to
the lower leg, so that the labour of this lower leg is limited to
moving itself.

The first thing a man does in mounting steps is to relieve the leg
he is about to lift of the weight of the body which was resting on
that leg; and besides this, he gives to the opposite leg all the
rest of the bulk of the whole man, including [the weight of] the
other leg; he then raises the other leg and sets the foot upon the
step to which he wishes to raise himself. Having done this he
restores to the upper foot all the weight of the body and of the leg
itself, and places his hand on his thigh and throws his head forward
and repeats the movement towards the point of the upper foot,
quickly lifting the heel of the lower one; and with this impetus he
lifts himself up and at the same time extends the arm which rested
on his knee; and this extension of the arm carries up the body and
the head, and so straightens the spine which was curved.

[32] The higher the step is which a man has to mount, the farther
forward will he place his head in advance of his upper foot, so as
to weigh more on a than on b; this man will not be on the step
m. As is shown by the line g f.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXIII, No. 1. The lower sketch to the left
belongs to the four first lines.]


I ask the weight [pressure] of this man at every degree of motion on
these steps, what weight he gives to b and to c.

[Footnote 8: These lines are, in the original, written in ink]
Observe the perpendicular line below the centre of gravity of the

[Footnote: See Pl. XXIII, No. 2.]


In going up stairs if you place your hands on your knees all the
labour taken by the arms is removed from the sinews at the back of
the knees.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXIII, No. 3.]


The sinew which guides the leg, and which is connected with the
patella of the knee, feels it a greater labour to carry the man
upwards, in proportion as the leg is more bent; and the muscle which
acts upon the angle made by the thigh where it joins the body has
less difficulty and has a less weight to lift, because it has not
the [additional] weight of the thigh itself. And besides this it has
stronger muscles, being those which form the buttock.


A man coming down hill takes little steps, because the weight rests
upon the hinder foot, while a man mounting takes wide steps, because
his weight rests on the foremost foot.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXIII, No. 4.]

On the human body in action (380-388).



When you want to represent a man as moving some weight consider what
the movements are that are to be represented by different lines;
that is to say either from below upwards, with a simple movement, as
a man does who stoops forward to take up a weight which he will lift
as he straightens himself. Or as a man does who wants to squash
something backwards, or to force it forwards or to pull it downwards
with ropes passed through pullies [Footnote 10: Compare the sketch
on page 198 and on 201 (S. K. M. II.1 86b).]. And here remember that
the weight of a man pulls in proportion as his centre of gravity is
distant from his fulcrum, and to this is added the force given by
his legs and bent back as he raises himself.


Again, a man has even a greater store of strength in his legs than
he needs for his own weight; and to see if this is true, make a man
stand on the shore-sand and then put another man on his back, and
you will see how much he will sink in. Then take the man from off
his back and make him jump straight up as high as he can, and you
will find that the print of his feet will be made deeper by the jump
than from having the man on his back. Hence, here, by 2 methods it
is proved that a man has double the strength he requires to support
his own body.



If you have to draw a man who is in motion, or lifting or pulling,
or carrying a weight equal to his own, in what way must you set on
his legs below his body?

[Footnote: In the MS. this question remains unanswered.]



A man pulling a [dead] weight balanced against himself cannot pull
more than his own weight. And if he has to raise it he will [be able
to] raise as much more than his weight as his strength may be more
than that of other men. [Footnote 7: The stroke at the end of this
line finishes in the original in a sort of loop or flourish, and a
similar flourish occurs at the end of the previous passage written
on the same page. M. RAVAISSON regards these as numbers (compare the
photograph of page 30b in his edition of MS. A). He remarks: “Ce
8 et, a la fin de l’alinea precedent, le chiffre 7 sont,
dans le manuscrit, des renvois
.”] The greatest force a man can
apply, with equal velocity and impetus, will be when he sets his
feet on one end of the balance [or lever] and then presses his
shoulders against some stable body. This will raise a weight at the
other end of the balance [lever], equal to his own weight and [added
to that] as much weight as he can carry on his shoulders.


No animal can simply move [by its dead weight] a greater weight than
the sum of its own weight outside the centre of his fulcrum.


A man who wants to send an arrow very far from the bow must be
standing entirely on one foot and raising the other so far from the
foot he stands on as to afford the requisite counterpoise to his
body which is thrown on the front foot. And he must not hold his arm
fully extended, and in order that he may be more able to bear the
strain he must hold a piece of wood which there is in all crossbows,
extending from the hand to the breast, and when he wishes to shoot
he suddenly leaps forward at the same instant and extends his arm
with the bow and releases the string. And if he dexterously does
every thing at once it will go a very long way.


When two men are at the opposite ends of a plank that is balanced,
and if they are of equal weight, and if one of them wants to make a
leap into the air, then his leap will be made down from his end of
the plank and the man will never go up again but must remain in his
place till the man at the other end dashes up the board.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXIV, No. 3.]


Of delivering a blow to the right or left.

[Footnote: Four sketches on Pl. XXIV, No. 1 belong to this passage.
The rest of the sketches and notes on that page are of a
miscellaneous nature.]


Why an impetus is not spent at once [but diminishes] gradually in
some one direction? [Footnote 1: The paper has been damaged at the
end of line 1.] The impetus acquired in the line a b c d is spent
in the line d e but not so completely but that some of its force
remains in it and to this force is added the momentum in the line d
with the force of the motive power, and it must follow than the
impetus multiplied by the blow is greater that the simple impetus
produced by the momentum d e.

[Footnote 8: The sketch No. 2 on Pl. XXIV stands, in the original,
between lines 7 and 8. Compare also the sketches on Pl. LIV.] A man
who has to deal a great blow with his weapon prepares himself with
all his force on the opposite side to that where the spot is which
he is to hit; and this is because a body as it gains in velocity
gains in force against the object which impedes its motion.

On hair falling down in curls.


Observe the motion of the surface of the water which resembles that
of hair, and has two motions, of which one goes on with the flow of
the surface, the other forms the lines of the eddies; thus the water
forms eddying whirlpools one part of which are due to the impetus of
the principal current and the other to the incidental motion and
return flow.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXV. Where also the text of this passage is given
in facsimile.]

On draperies (390–392).



That part of a fold which is farthest from the ends where it is
confined will fall most nearly in its natural form.

Every thing by nature tends to remain at rest. Drapery, being of
equal density and thickness on its wrong side and on its right, has
a tendency to lie flat; therefore when you give it a fold or plait
forcing it out of its flatness note well the result of the
constraint in the part where it is most confined; and the part which
is farthest from this constraint you will see relapses most into the
natural state; that is to say lies free and flowing.


[Footnote 13: a c sia. In the original text b is written instead
of c–an evident slip of the pen.] Let a b c be the fold of the
drapery spoken of above, a c will be the places where this folded
drapery is held fast. I maintain that the part of the drapery which
is farthest from the plaited ends will revert most to its natural

Therefore, b being farthest from a and c in the fold a b c
it will be wider there than anywhere else.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXVIII, No. 6, and compare the drawing from
Windsor Pl. XXX for farther illustration of what is here stated.]



How figures dressed in a cloak should not show the shape so much as
that the cloak looks as if it were next the flesh; since you surely
cannot wish the cloak to be next the flesh, for you must suppose
that between the flesh and the cloak there are other garments which
prevent the forms of the limbs appearing distinctly through the
cloak. And those limbs which you allow to be seen you must make
thicker so that the other garments may appear to be under the cloak.
But only give something of the true thickness of the limbs to a
nymph [Footnote 9: Una nifa. Compare the beautiful drawing of a
Nymph, in black chalk from the Windsor collection, Pl. XXVI.] or an
angel, which are represented in thin draperies, pressed and clinging
to the limbs of the figures by the action of the wind.


You ought not to give to drapery a great confusion of many folds,
but rather only introduce them where they are held by the hands or
the arms; the rest you may let fall simply where it is its nature to
flow; and do not let the nude forms be broken by too many details
and interrupted folds. How draperies should be drawn from nature:
that is to say if youwant to represent woollen cloth draw the folds
from that; and if it is to be silk, or fine cloth or coarse, or of
linen or of crape, vary the folds in each and do not represent
dresses, as many do, from models covered with paper or thin leather
which will deceive you greatly.

[Footnote: The little pen and ink drawing from Windsor (W. 102),
given on Pl. XXVIII, No. 7, clearly illustrates the statement made
at the beginning of this passage; the writing of the cipher 19 on
the same page is in Leonardo’s hand; the cipher 21 is certainly


Botany for Painters and Elements of Landscape Painting.

The chapters composing this portion of the work consist of
observations on Form, Light and Shade in Plants, and particularly in
Trees summed up in certain general rules by which the author intends
to guide the artist in the pictorial representation of landscape.

With these the first principles of a Theory of Landscape painting
are laid down–a theory as profoundly thought out in its main
lines as it is lucidly worked out in its details. In reading these
chapters the conviction is irresistible that such a
Botany for
painters is or ought to be of similar importance in the practice of
painting as the principles of the Proportions and Movements of the
human figure
i. e. Anatomy for painters.

There can be no doubt that Leonardo, in laying down these rules,
did not intend to write on Botany in the proper scientific
sense–his own researches on that subject have no place here; it
need only be observed that they are easily distinguished by their
character and contents from those which are here collected and
arranged under the title ‘Botany for painters’. In some cases where
this division might appear doubtful,–as for instance in No.

402–the Painter is directly addressed and enjoined to take the
rule to heart as of special importance in his art.

The original materials are principally derived from MS. G, in
which we often find this subject treated on several pages in
succession without any of that intermixture of other matters, which
is so frequent in Leonardo’s writings. This MS., too, is one of the
latest; when it was written, the great painter was already more than
sixty years of age, so we can scarcely doubt that he regarded all he
wrote as his final views on the subject. And the same remark applies
to the chapters from MSS.
E and M which were also written

For the sake of clearness, however, it has been desirable to
sacrifice–with few exceptions–the original order of the passages
as written, though it was with much reluctance and only after long
hesitation that I resigned myself to this necessity. Nor do I mean
to impugn the logical connection of the author’s ideas in his MS.;
but it will be easily understood that the sequence of disconnected
notes, as they occurred to Leonardo and were written down from time
to time, might be hardly satisfactory as a systematic arrangement of
his principles. The reader will find in the Appendix an exact
account of the order of the chapters in the original MS. and from
the data there given can restore them at will. As the materials are
here arranged, the structure of the tree as regards the growth of
the branches comes first
(394-411) and then the insertion of the
leaves on the stems
(412-419). Then follow the laws of Light and
Shade as applied, first, to the leaves (420-434), and, secondly, to
the whole tree and to groups of trees
(435-457). After the remarks
on the Light and Shade in landscapes generally
(458-464), we find
special observations on that of views of towns and buildings

(465-469). To the theory of Landscape Painting belong also the
passages on the effect of Wind on Trees
(470-473) and on the Light
and Shade of Clouds
(474-477), since we find in these certain
comparisons with the effect of Light and Shade on Trees
(e. g.: in
476, 4. 5; and No. 477, 9. 12). The chapters given in the
Appendix Nos.
478 and 481 have hardly any connection with the
subjects previously treated.

Classification of trees.



Small, lofty, straggling, thick, that is as to foliage, dark, light,
russet, branched at the top; some directed towards the eye, some
downwards; with white stems; this transparent in the air, that not;
some standing close together, some scattered.

The relative thickness of the branches to the trunk (393–396).


All the branches of a tree at every stage of its height when put
together are equal in thickness to the trunk [below them].

All the branches of a water [course] at every stage of its course,
if they are of equal rapidity, are equal to the body of the main


Every year when the boughs of a plant [or tree] have made an end of
maturing their growth, they will have made, when put together, a
thickness equal to that of the main stem; and at every stage of its
ramification you will find the thickness of the said main stem; as:
i k, g h, e f, c d, a b, will always be equal to each
other; unless the tree is pollard–if so the rule does not hold

All the branches have a direction which tends to the centre of the
tree m.

[Footnote: The two sketches of leafless trees one above another on
the left hand side of Pl. XXVII, No. 1, belong to this passage.]


If the plant n grows to the thickness shown at m, its branches will
correspond [in thickness] to the junction a b in consequence of the
growth inside as well as outside.

The branches of trees or plants have a twist wherever a minor branch
is given off; and this giving off the branch forms a fork; this said
fork occurs between two angles of which the largest will be that
which is on the side of the larger branch, and in proportion, unless
accident has spoilt it.

[Footnote: The sketches illustrating this are on the right hand side
of PI. XXVII, No. I, and the text is also given there in facsimile.]


There is no boss on branches which has not been produced by some
branch which has failed.

The lower shoots on the branches of trees grow more than the upper
ones and this occurs only because the sap that nourishes them, being
heavy, tends downwards more than upwards; and again, because those
[branches] which grow downwards turn away from the shade which
exists towards the centre of the plant. The older the branches are,
the greater is the difference between their upper and their lower
shoots and in those dating from the same year or epoch.

[Footnote: The sketch accompanying this in the MS. is so effaced
that an exact reproduction was impossible.]



The scars on trees grow to a greater thickness than is required by
the sap of the limb which nourishes them.


The plant which gives out the smallest ramifications will preserve
the straightest line in the course of its growth.

[Footnote: This passage is illustrated by two partly effaced
sketches. One of these closely resembles the lower one given under
No. 408, the other also represents short closely set boughs on an
upright trunk.]



The beginning of the ramification [the shoot] always has the central
line [axis] of its thickness directed to the central line [axis] of
the plant itself.


In starting from the main stem the branches always form a base with
a prominence as is shown at a b c d.



When the branches which grow the second year above the branch of the
preceding year, are not of equal thickness above the antecedent
branches, but are on one side, then the vigour of the lower branch
is diverted to nourish the one above it, although it may be somewhat
on one side.

But if the ramifications are equal in their growth, the veins of the
main stem will be straight [parallel] and equidistant at every
degree of the height of the plant.

Wherefore, O Painter! you, who do not know these laws! in order to
escape the blame of those who understand them, it will be well that
you should represent every thing from nature, and not despise such
study as those do who work [only] for money.

The direction of growth (403-407).



The plants which spread very much have the angles of the spaces
which divide their branches more obtuse in proportion as their point
of origin is lower down; that is nearer to the thickest and oldest
portion of the tree. Therefore in the youngest portions of the tree
the angles of ramification are more acute. [Footnote: Compare the
sketches on the lower portion of Pl. XXVII, No. 2.]


The tips of the boughs of plants [and trees], unless they are borne
down by the weight of their fruits, turn towards the sky as much as

The upper side of their leaves is turned towards the sky that it may
receive the nourishment of the dew which falls at night.

The sun gives spirit and life to plants and the earth nourishes them
with moisture. [9] With regard to this I made the experiment of
leaving only one small root on a gourd and this I kept nourished
with water, and the gourd brought to perfection all the fruits it
could produce, which were about 60 gourds of the long kind, andi set
my mind diligently [to consider] this vitality and perceived that
the dews of night were what supplied it abundantly with moisture
through the insertion of its large leaves and gave nourishment to
the plant and its offspring–or the seeds which its offspring had
to produce–[21].

The rule of the leaves produced on the last shoot of the year will
be that they will grow in a contrary direction on the twin branches;
that is, that the insertion of the leaves turns round each branch in
such a way, as that the sixth leaf above is produced over the sixth
leaf below, and the way they turn is that if one turns towards its
companion to the right, the other turns to the left, the leaf
serving as the nourishing breast for the shoot or fruit which grows
the following year.

[Footnote: A French translation of lines 9-12 was given by M.
RAVAISSON in the Gazette des Beaux Arts, Oct. 1877; his paper also
contains some valuable information as to botanical science in the
ancient classical writers and at the time of the Renaissance.]


The lowest branches of those trees which have large leaves and heavy
fruits, such as nut-trees, fig-trees and the like, always droop
towards the ground.

The branches always originate above [in the axis of] the leaves.


The upper shoots of the lateral branches of plants lie closer to the
parent branch than the lower ones.


The lowest branches, after they have formed the angle of their
separation from the parent stem, always bend downwards so as not to
crowd against the other branches which follow them on the same stem
and to be better able to take the air which nourishes them. As is
shown by the angle b a c; the branch a c after it has made the
corner of the angle a c bends downwards to c d and the lesser
shoot c dries up, being too thin.

The main branch always goes below, as is shown by the branch f n
, which does not go to f n o.

The forms of trees (408–411).


The elm always gives a greater length to the last branches of the
year’s growth than to the lower ones; and Nature does this because
the highest branches are those which have to add to the size of the
tree; and those at the bottom must get dry because they grow in the
shade and their growth would be an impediment to the entrance of the
solar rays and the air among the main branches of the tree.

The main branches of the lower part bend down more than those above,
so as to be more oblique than those upper ones, and also because
they are larger and older.


In general almost all the upright portions of trees curve somewhat
turning the convexity towards the South; and their branches are
longer and thicker and more abundant towards the South than towards
the North. And this occurs because the sun draws the sap towards
that surface of the tree which is nearest to it.

And this may be observed if the sun is not screened off by other


The cherry-tree is of the character of the fir tree as regards its
ramification placed in stages round its main stem; and its branches
spring, 4 or five or 6 [together] opposite each other; and the tips
of the topmost shoots form a pyramid from the middle upwards; and
the walnut and oak form a hemisphere from the middle upwards.


The bough of the walnut which is only hit and beaten when it has
brought to perfection…

[Footnote: The end of the text and the sketch in red chalk belonging
to it, are entirely effaced.]

The insertion of the leaves (412–419).



Such as the growth of the ramification of plants is on their
principal branches, so is that of the leaves on the shoots of the
same plant. These leaves have [Footnote 6: Quattro modi (four
modes). Only three are described in the text, the fourth is only
suggested by a sketch.

This passage occurs in MANZI’S edition of the Trattato, p. 399, but
without the sketches and the text is mutilated in an important part.
The whole passage has been commented on, from MANZI’S version, in
Part I of the Nuovo Giornale Botanico Italiano, by Prof. G.
UZIELLI (Florence 1869, Vol. I). He remarks as to the ‘four modes’:
Leonardo, come si vede nelle linie sententi da solo tre esempli.
Questa ed altre inessattezze fanno desiderare, sia esaminato di
nuovo il manoscritto Vaticano
“. This has since been done by D.
KNAPP of Tubingen, and his accurate copy has been published by H.
LUDWIG, the painter. The passage in question occurs in his edition
as No. 833; and there also the drawings are wanting. The space for
them has been left vacant, but in the Vatican copy ‘niente‘ has
been written on the margin; and in it, as well as in LUDWIG’S and
MANZI’S edition, the text is mutilated.] four modes of growing one
above another. The first, which is the most general, is that the
sixth always originates over the sixth below [Footnote 8: la sesta
di sotto. “Disposizione 2/5 o 1/5. Leonardo osservo probabilmente
soltanto la prima”
(UZIELLl).]; the second is that two third ones
above are over the two third ones below [Footnote 10: terze di
sotto: “Intende qui senza dubbio parlare di foglie decussate, in cui
il terzo verticello e nel piano del primo”
(UZIELLI).]; and the
third way is that the third above is over the third below [Footnote
11: 3a di sotto: “Disposizione 1/2” (UZIELLI).].

[Footnote: See the four sketches on the upper portion of the page
reproduced as fig. 2 on P1. XXVII.]



The ramification of the elm has the largest branch at the top. The
first and the last but one are smaller, when the main trunk is

The space between the insertion of one leaf to the rest is half the
extreme length of the leaf or somewhat less, for the leaves are at
an interval which is about the 3rd of the width of the leaf.

The elm has more leaves near the top of the boughs than at the base;
and the broad [surface] of the leaves varies little as to [angle
and] aspect.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXVII, No. 3. Above the sketch and close under
the number of the page is the word ‘olmo‘ (elm).]


In the walnut tree the leaves which are distributed on the shoots of
this year are further apart from each other and more numerous in
proportion as the branch from which this shoot springs is a young
one. And they are inserted more closely and less in number when the
shoot that bears them springs from an old branch. Its fruits are
borne at the ends of the shoots. And its largest boughs are the
lowest on the boughs they spring from. And this arises from the
weight of its sap which is more apt to descend than to rise, and
consequently the branches which spring from them and rise towards
the sky are small and slender [20]; and when the shoot turns towards
the sky its leaves spread out from it [at an angle] with an equal
distribution of their tips; and if the shoot turns to the horizon
the leaves lie flat; and this arises from the fact that leaves
without exception, turn their underside to the earth [29].

The shoots are smaller in proportion as they spring nearer to the
base of the bough they spring from.

[Footnote: See the two sketches on Pl XXVII, No. 4. The second
refers to the passage lines 20-30.]



The thickness of a branch never diminishes within the space between
one leaf and the next excepting by so much as the thickness of the
bud which is above the leaf and this thickness is taken off from the
branch above [the node] as far as the next leaf.

Nature has so placed the leaves of the latest shoots of many plants
that the sixth leaf is always above the first, and so on in
succession, if the rule is not [accidentally] interfered with; and
this occurs for two useful ends in the plant: First that as the
shoot and the fruit of the following year spring from the bud or eye
which lies above and in close contact with the insertion of the leaf
[in the axil], the water which falls upon the shoot can run down to
nourish the bud, by the drop being caught in the hollow [axil] at
the insertion of the leaf. And the second advantage is, that as
these shoots develop in the following year one will not cover the
next below, since the 5 come forth on five different sides; and the
sixth which is above the first is at some distance.



The ramifications of any tree, such as the elm, are wide and slender
after the manner of a hand with spread fingers, foreshortened. And
these are seen in the distribution [thus]: the lower portions are
seen from above; and those that are above are seen from below; and
those in the middle, some from below and some from above. The upper
part is the extreme [top] of this ramification and the middle
portion is more foreshortened than any other of those which are
turned with their tips towards you. And of those parts of the middle
of the height of the tree, the longest will be towards the top of
the tree and will produce a ramification like the foliage of the
common willow, which grows on the banks of rivers.

Other ramifications are spherical, as those of such trees as put
forth their shoots and leaves in the order of the sixth being placed
above the first. Others are thin and light like the willow and


You will see in the lower branches of the elder, which puts forth
leaves two and two placed crosswise [at right angles] one above
another, that if the stem rises straight up towards the sky this
order never fails; and its largest leaves are on the thickest part
of the stem and the smallest on the slenderest part, that is towards
the top. But, to return to the lower branches, I say that the leaves
on these are placed on them crosswise like [those on] the upper
branches; and as, by the law of all leaves, they are compelled to
turn their upper surface towards the sky to catch the dew at night,
it is necessary that those so placed should twist round and no
longer form a cross.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXVII, No. 5.]


A leaf always turns its upper side towards the sky so that it may
the better receive, on all its surface, the dew which drops gently
from the atmosphere. And these leaves are so distributed on the
plant as that one shall cover the other as little as possible, but
shall lie alternately one above another as may be seen in the ivy
which covers the walls. And this alternation serves two ends; that
is, to leave intervals by which the air and sun may penetrate
between them. The 2nd reason is that the drops which fall from the
first leaf may fall onto the fourth or–in other trees–onto the


Every shoot and every fruit is produced above the insertion [in the
axil] of its leaf which serves it as a mother, giving it water from
the rain and moisture from the dew which falls at night from above,
and often it protects them against the too great heat of the rays of
the sun.



That part of the body will be most illuminated which is hit by the
luminous ray coming between right angles.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXVIII, No. 1.]


Young plants have more transparent leaves and a more lustrous bark
than old ones; and particularly the walnut is lighter coloured in
May than in September.



The accidents of colour in the foliage of trees are 4. That is:
shadow, light, lustre [reflected light] and transparency.


These accidents of colour in the foliage of trees become confused at
a great distance and that which has most breadth [whether light or
shade, &c.] will be most conspicuous.

The proportions of light and shade in a leaf (423-426).



Sometimes a leaf has three accidents [of light] that is: shade,
lustre [reflected light] and transparency [transmitted light]. Thus,
if the light were at n as regards the leaf s, and the eye at
m, it would see a in full light, b in shadow and c


A leaf with a concave surface seen from the under side and
up-side-down will sometimes show itself as half in shade, and half
transparent. Thus, if o p is the leaf and the light m and the
eye n, this will see o in shadow because the light does not fall
upon it between equal angles, neither on the upper nor the under
side, and p is lighted on the upper side and the light is
transmitted to its under side. [Footnote: See Pl. XXVIII, No. 2, the
upper sketch on the page. In the original they are drawn in red


Although those leaves which have a polished surface are to a great
extent of the same colour on the right side and on the reverse, it
may happen that the side which is turned towards the atmosphere will
have something of the colour of the atmosphere; and it will seem to
have more of this colour of the atmosphere in proportion as the eye
is nearer to it and sees it more foreshortened. And, without
exception the shadows show as darker on the upper side than on the
lower, from the contrast offered by the high lights which limit the

The under side of the leaf, although its colour may be in itself the
same as that of the upper side, shows a still finer colour–a colour
that is green verging on yellow–and this happens when the leaf is
placed between


the eye and the light which falls upon it from the opposite side.

And its shadows are in the same positions as those were of the
opposite side. Therefore, O Painter! when you do trees close at
hand, remember that if the eye is almost under the tree you will see
its leaves [some] on the upper and [some] on the under side, and the
upper side will be bluer in proportion as they are seen more
foreshortened, and the same leaf sometimes shows part of the right
side and part of the under side, whence you must make it of two

Of the transparency of leaves (427-429).


The shadows in transparent leaves seen from the under side are the
same shadows as there are on the right side of this leaf, they will
show through to the underside together with lights, but the lustre
[reflected light] can never show through.


When one green has another [green] behind it, the lustre on the
leaves and their transparent [lights] show more strongly than in
those which are [seen] against the brightness of the atmosphere.

And if the sun illuminates the leaves without their coming between
it and the eye and without the eye facing the sun, then the
reflected lights and the transparent lights are very strong.

It is very effective to show some branches which are low down and
dark and so set off the illuminated greens which are at some
distance from the dark greens seen below. That part is darkest which
is nearest to the eye or which is farthest from the luminous


Never paint leaves transparent to the sun, because they are
confused; and this is because on the transparency of one leaf will
be seen the shadow of another leaf which is above it. This shadow
has a distinct outline and a certain depth of shade and sometimes is
[as much as] half or a third of the leaf which is shaded; and
consequently such an arrangement is very confused and the imitation
of it should be avoided.

The light shines least through a leaf when it falls upon it at an
acute angle.

The gradations of shade and colour in leaves (430-434).


The shadows of plants are never black, for where the atmosphere
penetrates there can never be utter darkness.


If the light comes from m and the eye is at n the eye will see
the colour of the leaves a b all affected by the colour of m
–that is of the atmosphere; and b c will be seen from the under
side as transparent, with a beautiful green colour verging on

If m is the luminous body lighting up the leaf s all the eyes
that see the under side of this leaf will see it of a beautiful
light green, being transparent.

In very many cases the positions of the leaves will be without
shadow [or in full light], and their under side will be transparent
and the right side lustrous [reflecting light].


The willow and other similar trees, which have their boughs lopped
every 3 or 4 years, put forth very straight branches, and their
shadow is about the middle where these boughs spring; and towards
the extreme ends they cast but little shade from having small leaves
and few and slender branches. Hence the boughs which rise towards
the sky will have but little shade and little relief; and the
branches which are at an angle from the horizon, downwards, spring
from the dark part of the shadow and grow thinner by degrees up to
their ends, and these will be in strong relief, being in gradations
of light against a background of shadow.

That tree will have the least shadow which has the fewest branches
and few leaves.



When the leaves are interposed between the light and the eye, then
that which is nearest to the eye will be the darkest, and the most
distant will be the lightest, not being seen against the atmosphere;
and this is seen in the leaves which are away from the centre of the
tree, that is towards the light.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXVIII, No. 2, the lower sketch.]



The lights on such leaves which are darkest, will be most near to
the colour of the atmosphere that is reflected in them. And the
cause of this is that the light on the illuminated portion mingles
with the dark hue to compose a blue colour; and this light is
produced by the blueness of the atmosphere which is reflected in the
smooth surface of these leaves and adds to the blue hue which this
light usually produces when it falls on dark objects.


But leaves of a green verging on yellow when they reflect the
atmosphere do not produce a reflection verging on blue, inasmuch as
every thing which appears in a mirror takes some colour from that
mirror, hence the blue of the atmosphere being reflected in the
yellow of the leaf appears green, because blue and yellow mixed
together make a very fine green colour, therefore the lustre of
light leaves verging on yellow will be greenish yellow.

A classification of trees according to their colours.


The trees in a landscape are of various kinds of green, inasmuch as
some verge towards blackness, as firs, pines, cypresses, laurels,
box and the like. Some tend to yellow such as walnuts, and pears,
vines and verdure. Some are both yellowish and dark as chesnuts,
holm-oak. Some turn red in autumn as the service-tree, pomegranate,
vine, and cherry; and some are whitish as the willow, olive, reeds
and the like. Trees are of various forms …

The proportions of light and shade in trees (436-440).



That part of the trees will be seen to lie in the least dark shadow
which is farthest from the earth.

To prove it let a p be the tree, n b c the illuminated
hemisphere [the sky], the under portion of the tree faces the earth
p c, that is on the side o, and it faces a small part of the
hemisphere at c d. But the highest part of the convexity a faces
the greatest part of the hemisphere, that is b c. For this
reason–and because it does not face the darkness of the earth–it
is in fuller light. But if the tree has dense foliage, as the
laurel, arbutus, box or holm oak, it will be different; because,
although a does not face the earth, it faces the dark [green] of
the leaves cut up by many shadows, and this darkness is reflected
onto the under sides of the leaves immediately above. Thus these
trees have their darkest shadows nearest to the middle of the tree.



The shadows of verdure are always somewhat blue, and so is every
shadow of every object; and they assume this hue more in proportion
as they are remote from the eye, and less in proportion as they are
nearer. The leaves which reflect the blue of the atmosphere always
present themselves to the eye edgewise.


The illuminated portion, at a great distance, will appear most
nearly of its natural colour where the strongest light falls upon



In trees that are illuminated [both] by the sun and the atmosphere
and that have leaves of a dark colour, one side will be illuminated
by the atmosphere [only] and in consequence of this light will tend
to blueness, while on the other side they will be illuminated by the
atmosphere and the sun; and the side which the eye sees illuminated
by the sun will reflect light.



The trees and plants which are most thickly branched with slender
branches ought to have less dark shadow than those trees and plants
which, having broader leaves, will cast more shadow.



In the position of the eye which sees that portion of a tree
illuminated which turns towards the light, one tree will never be
seen to be illuminated equally with the other. To prove this, let
the eye be c which sees the two trees b d which are illuminated
by the sun a; I say that this eye c will not see the light in
the same proportion to the shade, in one tree as in the other.
Because, the tree which is nearest to the sun will display so much
the stronger shadow than the more distant one, in proportion as one
tree is nearer to the rays of the sun that converge to the eye than
the other; &c.

You see that the eye c sees nothing of the tree d but shadow,
while the same eye c sees thè tree b half in light and half in

When a tree is seen from below, the eye sees the top of it as placed
within the circle made by its boughs[23].

Remember, O Painter! that the variety of depth of shade in any one
particular species of tree is in proportion to the rarity or density
of their branches.

[Footnote: The two lower sketches on the left of Pl XXVIII, No. 3,
refer to lines 21-23. The upper sketch has apparently been effaced
by Leonardo himself.]

The distribution of light and shade with reference to the position
of the spectator (441-443).


The shadows of trees placed in a landscape do not display themselves
in the same position in the trees on the right hand and those on the
left; still more so if the sun is to the right or left. As is proved
by the 4th which says: Opaque bodies placed between the light and
the eye display themselves entirely in shadow; and by the 5th: The
eye when placed between the opaque body and the light sees the
opaque body entirely illuminated. And by the 6th: When the eye and
the opaque body are placed between darkness and light, it will be
seen half in shadow and half in light.

[Footnote: See the figure on the right hand side of Pl. XXVIII, No.
3. The first five lines of the text are written below the diagram
and above it are the last eight lines of the text, given as No.



Of the plants which take a shadow from the plants which spring among
them, those which are on this side [in front] of the shadow have the
stems lighted up on a background of shadow, and the plants on which
the shadows fall have their stems dark on a light background; that
is on the background beyond the shadow.


Of the trees which are between the eye and the light the part in
front will be light; but this light will be broken by the
ramifications of transparent leaves–being seen from the under
side–and lustrous leaves–being seen from the upper side; and the
background below and behind will be dark green, being in shadow from
the front portion of the said tree. This occurs in trees placed
above the eye.



Landscapes should be represented so that the trees may be half in
light and half in shadow; but it is better to do them when the sun
is covered with clouds, for then the trees are lighted by the
general light of the sky, and the general darkness of the earth. And
then they are darkest in certain parts in proportion as those parts
are nearest to the middle of the tree and to the earth.

The effects of morning light (444-448).



When the sun is in the east the trees to the South and to the North
have almost as much light as shadow. But a greater share of light in
proportion as they lie to the West and a greater share of shadow in
proportion as they lie to the East.


If the sun is in the East the verdure of the meadows and of other
small plants is of a most beautiful green from being transparent to
the sun; this does not occur in the meadows to the West, and in
those to the South and North the grass is of a moderately brilliant



When the sun is in the East all the portions of plants lighted by it
are of a most lively verdure, and this happens because the leaves
lighted by the sun within the half of the horizon that is the
Eastern half, are transparent; and within the Western semicircle the
verdure is of a dull hue and the moist air is turbid and of the
colour of grey ashes, not being transparent like that in the East,
which is quite clear and all the more so in proportion as it is

The shadows of the trees to the East cover a large portion of them
and are darker in proportion as the foliage of the trees is thicker.



When the sun is in the East the trees seen towards the East will
have the light which surrounds them all round their shadows,
excepting on the side towards the earth; unless the tree has been
pruned [below] in the past year. And the trees to the South and
North will be half in shade and half in light, and more or less in
shade or in light in proportion as they are more or less to the East
or to the West.

The [position of] the eye above or below varies the shadows and
lights in trees, inasmuch as the eye placed above sees the tree with
the little shadow, and the eye placed below with a great deal of

The colour of the green in plants varies as much as their species.



The sun being in the East [to the right], the trees to the West [or
left] of the eye will show in small relief and almost imperceptible
gradations, because the atmosphere which lies between the eye and
those trees is very dense [Footnote 7: per la 7a di questo. This
possibly referred to something written on the seventh page of this
note book marked G. Unfortunately it has been cut out and lost.],
see the 7th of this–and they have no shade; for though a shadow
exists in every detail of the ramification, it results that the
images of the shade and light that reach the eye are confused and
mingled together and cannot be perceived on account of their
minuteness. And the principal lights are in the middle of the trees,
and the shadows to wards the edges; and their separation is shown by
the shadows of the intervals between the trees; but when the forests
are thick with trees the thin edges are but little seen.



When the sun is in the East the trees are darker towards the middle
while their edges are light.

The effects of midday light.



To represent a landscape choose that the sun shall be at noon and
look towards the West or East and then draw. And if you turn towards
the North, every object placed on that side will have no shadow,
particularly those which are nearest to the [direction of the]
shadow of your head. And if you turn towards the South every object
on that side will be wholly in shadow. All the trees which are
towards the sun and have the atmosphere for their background are
dark, and the other trees which lie against that darkness will be
black [very dark] in the middle and lighter towards the edges.

The appearance of trees in the distance (450. 451).



The spaces between the parts in the mass of trees, and the spaces
between the trees in the air, are, at great distances, invisible to
the eye; for, where it is an effort [even] to see the whole it is
most difficult to discern the parts.–But a confused mixture is the
result, partaking chiefly of the [hue] which predominates. The
spaces between the leaves consist of particles of illuminated air
which are very much smaller than the tree and are lost sight of
sooner than the tree; but it does not therefore follow that they are
not there. Hence, necessarily, a compounded [effect] is produced of
the sky and of the shadows of the tree in shade, which both together
strike the eye which sees them.


That part of a tree will show the fewest spaces, behind which a
large number of trees are standing between the tree and the air
[sky]; thus in the tree a the spaces are not concealed nor in b,
as there is no tree behind. But in c only half shows the spaces
filled up by the tree d, and part of the tree d is filled up by
the tree e and a little farther on all the spaces in the mass of
the trees are lost, and only that at the side remains.



What outlines are seen in trees at a distance against the sky which
serves as their background?

The outlines of the ramification of trees, where they lie against
the illuminated sky, display a form which more nearly approaches the
spherical on proportion as they are remote, and the nearer they are
the less they appear in this spherical form; as in the first tree
a which, being near to the eye, displays the true form of its
ramification; but this shows less in b and is altogether lost in
c, where not merely the branches of the tree cannot be seen but
the whole tree is distinguished with difficulty. Every object in
shadow, of whatever form it may be, at a great distance appears to
be spherical. And this occurs because, if it is a square body, at a
very short distance it loses its angles, and a little farther off it
loses still more of its smaller sides which remain. And thus before
the whole is lost [to sight] the parts are lost, being smaller than
the whole; as a man, who in such a distant position loses his legs,
arms and head before [the mass of] his body, then the outlines of
length are lost before those of breadth, and where they have become
equal it would be a square if the angles remained; but as they are
lost it is round.

[Footnote: The sketch No. 4, Pl. XXVIII, belongs to this passage.]

The cast shadow of trees (452. 453).


The image of the shadow of any object of uniform breadth can never
be [exactly] the same as that of the body which casts it.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXVIII, No. 5.]

Light and shade on groups of trees (453-457).


All trees seen against the sun are dark towards the middle and this
shadow will be of the shape of the tree when apart from others.

The shadows cast by trees on which the sun shines are as dark as
those of the middle of the tree.

The shadow cast by a tree is never less than the mass of the tree
but becomes taller in proportion as the spot on which it falls,
slopes towards the centre of the world.

The shadow will be densest in the middle of the tree when the tree
has the fewest branches.

[Footnote: The three diagrams which accompany this text are placed,
in the original, before lines 7-11. At the spots marked B Leonardo
wrote Albero (tree). At A is the word Sole (sun), at C Monte
(mountain) at D piano (plain) and at E cima (summit).]

Every branch participates of the central shadow of every other
branch and consequently [of that] of the whole tree.

The form of any shadow from a branch or tree is circumscribed by the
light which falls from the side whence the light comes; and this
illumination gives the shape of the shadow, and this may be of the
distance of a mile from the side where the sun is.

If it happens that a cloud should anywhere overshadow some part of a
hill the [shadow of the] trees there will change less than in the
plains; for these trees on the hills have their branches thicker,
because they grow less high each year than in the plains. Therefore
as these branches are dark by nature and being so full of shade, the
shadow of the clouds cannot darken them any more; but the open
spaces between the trees, which have no strong shadow change very
much in tone and particularly those which vary from green; that is
ploughed lands or fallen mountains or barren lands or rocks. Where
the trees are against the atmosphere they appear all the same
colour–if indeed they are not very close together or very thickly
covered with leaves like the fir and similar trees. When you see the
trees from the side from which the sun lights them, you will see
them almost all of the same tone, and the shadows in them will be
hidden by the leaves in the light, which come between your eye and
those shadows.


[Footnote 29: The heading alberi vicini (trees at a short
distance) is in the original manuscript written in the margin.] When
the trees are situated between the sun and the eye, beyond the
shadow which spreads from their centre, the green of their leaves
will be seen transparent; but this transparency will be broken in
many places by the leaves and boughs in shadow which will come
between you and them, or, in their upper portions, they will be
accompanied by many lights reflected from the leaves.


The trees of the landscape stand out but little from each other;
because their illuminated portions come against the illuminated
portions of those beyond and differ little from them in light and


Of trees seen from below and against the light, one beyond the other
and near together. The topmost part of the first will be in great
part transparent and light, and will stand out against the dark
portion of the second tree. And thus it will be with all in
succession that are placed under the same conditions.

Let s be the light, and r the eye, c d n the first tree, a b
the second. Then I say that r, the eye, will see the portion c
in great part transparent and lighted by the light s which
falls upon it from the opposite side, and it will see it, on a dark
ground b c because that is the dark part and shadow of the tree a
b c

But if the eye is placed at t it will see o p dark on the light
background n g.

Of the transparent and shadowy parts of trees, that which is nearest
to you is the darkest.


That part of a tree which has shadow for background, is all of one
tone, and wherever the trees or branches are thickest they will be
darkest, because there are no little intervals of air. But where the
boughs lie against a background of other boughs, the brighter parts
are seen lightest and the leaves lustrous from the sunlight falling
on them.


In the composition of leafy trees be careful not to repeat too often
the same colour of one tree against the same colour of another
[behind it]; but vary it with a lighter, or a darker, or a stronger

On the treatment of light for landscapes (458-464).


The landscape has a finer azure [tone] when, in fine weather the sun
is at noon than at any other time of the day, because the air is
purified of moisture; and looking at it under that aspect you will
see the trees of a beautiful green at the outside and the shadows
dark towards the middle; and in the remoter distance the atmosphere
which comes between you and them looks more beautiful when there is
something dark beyond. And still the azure is most beautiful. The
objects seen from the side on which the sun shines will not show you
their shadows. But, if you are lower than the sun, you can see what
is not seen by the sun and that will be all in shade. The leaves of
the trees, which come between you and the sun are of two principal
colours which are a splendid lustre of green, and the reflection of
the atmosphere which lights up the objects which cannot be seen by
the sun, and the shaded portions which only face the earth, and the
darkest which are surrounded by something that is not dark. The
trees in the landscape which are between you and the sun are far
more beautiful than those you see when you are between the sun and
them; and this is so because those which face the sun show their
leaves as transparent towards the ends of their branches, and those
that are not transparent–that is at the ends–reflect the light;
and the shadows are dark because they are not concealed by any

The trees, when you place yourself between them and the sun, will
only display to you their light and natural colour, which, in
itself, is not very strong, and besides this some reflected lights
which, being against a background which does not differ very much
from themselves in tone, are not conspicuous; and if you are lower
down than they are situated, they may also show those portions on
which the light of the sun does not fall and these will be dark.

In the Wind.

But, if you are on the side whence the wind blows, you will see the
trees look very much lighter than on the other sides, and this
happens because the wind turns up the under side of the leaves,
which, in all trees, is much whiter than the upper sides; and, more
especially, will they be very light indeed if the wind blows from
the quarter where the sun is, and if you have your back turned to

[Footnote: At S, in the original is the word Sole (sun) and at
N parte di nuvolo (the side of the clouds).]


When the sun is covered by clouds, objects are less conspicuous,
because there is little difference between the light and shade of
the trees and of the buildings being illuminated by the brightness
of the atmosphere which surrounds the objects in such a way that the
shadows are few, and these few fade away so that their outline is
lost in haze.



The best method of practice in representing country scenes, or I
should say landscapes with their trees, is to choose them so that
the sun is covered with clouds so that the landscape receives an
universal light and not the direct light of the sun, which makes the
shadows sharp and too strongly different from the lights.



In landscapes which represent [a scene in] winter. The mountains
should not be shown blue, as we see in the mountains in the summer.
And this is proved [Footnote 5. 6.: Per la 4_a di questo_. It is
impossible to ascertain what this quotation refers to. Questo
certainly does not mean the MS. in hand, nor any other now known to
us. The same remark applies to the phrase in line 15: per la 2_a
di questo_.] in the 4th of this which says: Among mountains seen
from a great distance those will look of the bluest colour which are
in themselves the darkest; hence, when the trees are stripped of
their leaves, they will show a bluer tinge which will be in itself
darker; therefore, when the trees have lost their leaves they will
look of a gray colour, while, with their leaves, they are green, and
in proportion as the green is darker than the grey hue the green
will be of a bluer tinge than the gray. Also by the 2nd of this: The
shadows of trees covered with leaves are darker than the shadows of
those trees which have lost their leaves in proportion as the trees
covered with leaves are denser than those without leaves–and thus
my meaning is proved.

The definition of the blue colour of the atmosphere explains why the
landscape is bluer in the summer than in the winter.



If the slope of a hill comes between the eye and the horizon,
sloping towards the eye, while the eye is opposite the middle of the
height of this slope, then that hill will increase in darkness
throughout its length. This is proved by the 7th of this which says
that a tree looks darkest when it is seen from below; the
proposition is verified, since this hill will, on its upper half
show all its trees as much from the side which is lighted by the
light of the sky, as from that which is in shade from the darkness
of the earth; whence it must result that these trees are of a medium
darkness. And from this [middle] spot towards the base of the hill,
these trees will be lighter by degrees by the converse of the 7th
and by the said 7th: For trees so placed, the nearer they are to the
summit of the hill the darker they necessarily become. But this
darkness is not in proportion to the distance, by the 8th of this
which says: That object shows darkest which is [seen] in the
clearest atmosphere; and by the 10th: That shows darkest which
stands out against a lighter background.

[Footnote: The quotation in this passage again cannot be verified.]



The colours of the shadows in mountains at a great distance take a
most lovely blue, much purer than their illuminated portions. And
from this it follows that when the rock of a mountain is reddish the
illuminated portions are violet (?) and the more they are lighted
the more they display their proper colour.


A place is most luminous when it is most remote from mountains.

On the treatment of light for views of towns (465-469).



When the sun is in the East and the eye is above the centre of a
town, the eye will see the Southern part of the town with its roofs
half in shade and half in light, and the same towards the North; the
Eastern side will be all in shadow and the Western will be all in


Of the houses of a town, in which the divisions between the houses
may be distinguished by the light which fall on the mist at the
bottom. If the eye is above the houses the light seen in the space
that is between one house and the next sinks by degrees into thicker
mist; and yet, being less transparent, it appears whiter; and if the
houses are some higher than the others, since the true [colour] is
always more discernible through the thinner atmosphere, the houses
will look darker in proportion as they are higher up. Let n o p q
represent the various density of the atmosphere thick with moisture,
a being the eye, the house b c will look lightest at the bottom,
because it is in a thicker atmosphere; the lines c d f will appear
equally light, for although f is more distant than c, it is
raised into a thinner atmosphere, if the houses b e are of the
same height, because they cross a brightness which is varied by
mist, but this is only because the line of the eye which starts from
above ends by piercing a lower and denser atmosphere at d than at
b. Thus the line a f is lower at f than at c; and the house
f will be seen darker at e from the line e k as far as m,
than the tops of the houses standing in front of it.



Of buildings seen at a great distance in the evening or the morning,
as in mist or dense atmosphere, only those portions are seen in
brightness which are lighted up by the sun which is near the
horizon; and those portions which are not lighted up by the sun
remain almost of the same colour and medium tone as the mist.


Of objects standing in a mist or other dense atmosphere, whether
from vapour or smoke or distance, those will be most visible which
are the highest. And among objects of equal height that will be the
darkest [strongest] which has for background the deepest mist. Thus
the eye h looking at a b c, towers of equal height, one with
another, sees c the top of the first tower at r, at two degrees
of depth in the mist; and sees the height of the middle tower b
through one single degree of mist. Therefore the top of the tower
c appears stronger than the top of the tower b, &c.



Smoke is seen better and more distinctly on the Eastern side than on
the Western when the sun is in the East; and this arises from two
causes; the first is that the sun, with its rays, shines through the
particles of the smoke and lights them up and makes them visible.
The second is that the roofs of the houses seen in the East at this
time are in shadow, because their obliquity does not allow of their
being illuminated by the sun. And the same thing occurs with dust;
and both one and the other look the lighter in proportion as they
are denser, and they are densest towards the middle.



If the sun is in the East the smoke of cities will not be visible in
the West, because on that side it is not seen penetrated by the
solar rays, nor on a dark background; since the roofs of the houses
turn the same side to the eye as they turn towards the sun, and on
this light background the smoke is not very visible.

But dust, under the same aspect, will look darker than smoke being
of denser material than smoke which is moist.

The effect of wind on trees (470-473).



In representing wind, besides the bending of the boughs and the
reversing of their leaves towards the quarter whence the wind comes,
you should also represent them amid clouds of fine dust mingled with
the troubled air.


Describe landscapes with the wind, and the water, and the setting
and rising of the sun.


All the leaves which hung towards the earth by the bending of the
shoots with their branches, are turned up side down by the gusts of
wind, and here their perspective is reversed; for, if the tree is
between you and the quarter of the wind, the leaves which are
towards you remain in their natural aspect, while those on the
opposite side which ought to have their points in a contrary
direction have, by being turned over, their points turned towards


Trees struck by the force of the wind bend to the side towards which
the wind is blowing; and the wind being past they bend in the
contrary direction, that is in reverse motion.


That portion of a tree which is farthest from the force which
strikes it is the most injured by the blow because it bears most
strain; thus nature has foreseen this case by thickening them in
that part where they can be most hurt; and most in such trees as
grow to great heights, as pines and the like. [Footnote: Compare the
sketch drawn with a pen and washed with Indian ink on Pl. XL, No. 1.
In the Vatican copy we find, under a section entitled ‘del fumo‘,
the following remark: _Era sotto di questo capitulo un rompimento di
montagna, per dentro delle quali roture scherzaua fiame di fuoco,
disegnate di penna et ombrate d’acquarella, da uedere cosa mirabile
et uiua (Ed. MANZI, p. 235. Ed. LUDWIG, Vol. I, 460). This appears
to refer to the left hand portion of the drawing here given from the
Windsor collection, and from this it must be inferred, that the leaf
as it now exists in the library of the Queen of England, was already
separated from the original MS. at the time when the Vatican copy
was made.]

Light and shade on clouds (474-477).


Describe how the clouds are formed and how they dissolve, and what
cause raises vapour.


The shadows in clouds are lighter in proportion as they are nearer
to the horizon.

[Footnote: The drawing belonging to this was in black chalk and is
totally effaced.]


When clouds come between the sun and the eye all the upper edges of
their round forms are light, and towards the middle they are dark,
and this happens because towards the top these edges have the sun
above them while you are below them; and the same thing happens with
the position of the branches of trees; and again the clouds, like
the trees, being somewhat transparent, are lighted up in part, and
at the edges they show thinner.

But, when the eye is between the cloud and the sun, the cloud has
the contrary effect to the former, for the edges of its mass are
dark and it is light towards the middle; and this happens because
you see the same side as faces the sun, and because the edges have
some transparency and reveal to the eye that portion which is hidden
beyond them, and which, as it does not catch the sunlight like that
portion turned towards it, is necessarily somewhat darker. Again, it
may be that you see the details of these rounded masses from the
lower side, while the sun shines on the upper side and as they are
not so situated as to reflect the light of the sun, as in the first
instance they remain dark.

The black clouds which are often seen higher up than those which are
illuminated by the sun are shaded by other clouds, lying between
them and the sun.

Again, the rounded forms of the clouds that face the sun, show their
edges dark because they lie against the light background; and to see
that this is true, you may look at the top of any cloud that is
wholly light because it lies against the blue of the atmosphere,
which is darker than the cloud.

[Footnote: A drawing in red chalk from the Windsor collection (see
Pl. XXIX), representing a landscape with storm-clouds, may serve to
illustrate this section as well as the following one.]



The clouds do not show their rounded forms excepting on the sides
which face the sun; on the others the roundness is imperceptible
because they are in the shade. [Footnote: The text of this chapter
is given in facsimile on Pls. XXXVI and XXXVII. The two halves of
the leaf form but one in the original. On the margin close to lines
4 and 5 is the note: rossore d’aria inverso l’orizonte–(of the
redness of the atmosphere near the horizon). The sketches on the
lower portion of the page will be spoken of in No. 668.]

If the sun is in the East and the clouds in the West, the eye placed
between the sun and the clouds sees the edges of the rounded forms
composing these clouds as dark, and the portions which are
surrounded by this dark [edge] are light. And this occurs because
the edges of the rounded forms of these clouds are turned towards
the upper or lateral sky, which is reflected in them.

Both the cloud and the tree display no roundness at all on their
shaded side.

On images reflected in water.


Painters often deceive themselves, by representing water in which
they make the water reflect the objects seen by the man. But the
water reflects the object from one side and the man sees it from the
other; and it often happens that the painter sees an object from
below, and thus one and the same object is seen from hind part
before and upside down, because the water shows the image of the
object in one way, and the eye sees it in another.

Of rainbows and rain (479. 480).


The colours in the middle of the rainbow mingle together.

The bow in itself is not in the rain nor in the eye that sees it;
though it is generated by the rain, the sun, and the eye. The
rainbow is always seen by the eye that is between the rain and the
body of the sun; hence if the sun is in the East and the rain is in
the West it will appear on the rain in the West.


When the air is condensed into rain it would produce a vacuum if the
rest of the air did not prevent this by filling its place, as it
does with a violent rush; and this is the wind which rises in the
summer time, accompanied by heavy rain.

Of flower seeds.


All the flowers which turn towards the sun perfect their seeds; but
not the others; that is to say those which get only the reflection
of the sun.


The Practice of Painting.

It is hardly necessary to offer any excuses for the division
carried out in the arrangement of the text into practical
suggestions and theoretical enquiries. It was evidently intended by
Leonardo himself as we conclude from incidental remarks in the MSS.
(for instance No
110_). The fact that this arrangement was never
carried out either in the old MS. copies or in any edition since, is
easily accounted for by the general disorder which results from the
provisional distribution of the various chapters in the old copies.
We have every reason to believe that the earliest copyists, in
distributing the materials collected by them, did not in the least
consider the order in which the original MS.lay before them._

It is evident that almost all the chapters which refer to the
calling and life of the painter–and which are here brought together
in the first section (Nos.
482-508_)–may be referred to two
distinct periods in Leonardo’s life; most of them can be dated as
belonging to the year_ 1492 or to 1515. At about this later time
Leonardo may have formed the project of completing his Libro della
Pittura, after an interval of some years, as it would seem, during
which his interest in the subject had fallen somewhat into the

In the second section, which treats first of the artist’s studio,
the construction of a suitable window forms the object of careful
investigations; the special importance attached to this by Leonardo
is sufficiently obvious. His theory of the incidence of light which
was fully discussed in a former part of this work, was to him by no
means of mere abstract value, but, being deduced, as he says, from
experience (or experiment) was required to prove its utility in
practice. Connected with this we find suggestions for the choice of
a light with practical hints as to sketching a picture and some
other precepts of a practical character which must come under
consideration in the course of completing the painting. In all this
I have followed the same principle of arrangement in the text as was
carried out in the Theory of Painting, thus the suggestions for the
Perspective of a picture, (Nos.
536-569_), are followed by the
theory of light and shade for the practical method of optics (Nos._
548–566_) and this by the practical precepts or the treatment of
aerial perspective (567–570)._

In the passage on Portrait and Figure Painting the principles of
painting as applied to a bust and head are separated and placed
first, since the advice to figure painters must have some connection
with the principles of the treatment of composition by which they
are followed.

But this arrangement of the text made it seem advisable not to pick
out the practical precepts as to the representation of trees and
landscape from the close connection in which they were originally
placed–unlike the rest of the practical precepts–with the theory
of this branch of the subject. They must therefore be sought under
the section entitled Botany for Painters.

As a supplement to the Libro di Pittura I have here added those
texts which treat of the Painter’s materials,–as chalk, drawing
paper, colours and their preparation, of the management of oils and
varnishes; in the appendix are some notes on chemical substances.
Possibly some of these, if not all, may have stood in connection
with the preparation of colours. It is in the very nature of things
that Leonardo’s incidental indications as to colours and the like
should be now-a-days extremely obscure and could only be explained
by professional experts–by them even in but few instances. It might
therefore have seemed advisable to reproduce exactly the original
text without offering any translation. The rendering here given is
merely an attempt to suggest what Leonardo’s meaning may have been.

LOMAZZO tells us in his Trattato dell’arte della Pittura, Scultura
ed Architettura (Milano 1584, libro II, Cap. XIV): “Va discorrendo
ed argomentando Leonardo Vinci in un suo libro letto da me (?)
questi anni passati, ch’egli scrisse di mano stanca ai prieghi di
LUDOVICO SFORZA duca di Milano, in determinazione di questa
questione, se e piu nobile la pittura o la scultura; dicendo che
quanto piu un’arte porta seco fatica di corpo, e sudore, tanto piu e
vile, e men pregiata”. But the existence of any book specially
written for Lodovico il Moro on the superiority of Painting over
sculpture is perhaps mythical. The various passages in praise of
Painting as compared not merely with Sculpture but with Poetry, are
scattered among MSS. of very different dates.

Besides, the way, in which the subject is discussed appears not to
support the supposition, that these texts were prepared at a special
request of the Duke.



How to ascertain the dispositions for an artistic career.



Many are they who have a taste and love for drawing, but no talent;
and this will be discernible in boys who are not diligent and never
finish their drawings with shading.

The course of instruction for an artist (483-485).


The youth should first learn perspective, then the proportions of
objects. Then he may copy from some good master, to accustom himself
to fine forms. Then from nature, to confirm by practice the rules he
has learnt. Then see for a time the works of various masters. Then
get the habit of putting his art into practice and work.

[Footnote: The Vatican copy and numerous abridgements all place this
chapter at the beginning of the Trattato, and in consequence
DUFRESNE and all subsequent editors have done the same. In the
Vatican copy however all the general considerations on the relation
of painting to the other arts are placed first, as introductory.]



First draw from drawings by good masters done from works of art and
from nature, and not from memory; then from plastic work, with the
guidance of the drawing done from it; and then from good natural
models and this you must put into practice.



The artist ought first to exercise his hand by copying drawings from
the hand of a good master. And having acquired that practice, under
the criticism of his master, he should next practise drawing objects
in relief of a good style, following the rules which will presently
be given.

The study of the antique (486. 487).



Which is best, to draw from nature or from the antique? and which is
more difficult to do outlines or light and shade?


It is better to imitate [copy] the antique than modern work.

[Footnote 486, 487: These are the only two passages in which
Leonardo alludes to the importance of antique art in the training of
an artist. The question asked in No. 486 remains unanswered by him
and it seems to me very doubtful whether the opinion stated in No.
487 is to be regarded as a reply to it. This opinion stands in the
MS. in a connection–as will be explained later on–which seems to
require us to limit its application to a single special case. At any
rate we may suspect that when Leonardo put the question, he felt
some hesitation as to the answer. Among his very numerous drawings I
have not been able to find a single study from the antique, though a
drawing in black chalk, at Windsor, of a man on horseback (PI.
LXXIII) may perhaps be a reminiscence of the statue of Marcus
Aurelius at Rome. It seems to me that the drapery in a pen and ink
drawing of a bust, also at Windsor, has been borrowed from an
antique model (Pl. XXX). G. G. Rossi has, I believe, correctly
interpreted Leonardo’s feeling towards the antique in the following
note on this passage in manzi’s edition, p. 501: “Sappiamo dalla
storia, che i valorosi artisti Toscani dell’età dell’oro dell’arte
studiarono sugli antichi marmi raccolti dal Magnifico LORENZO DE’
MEDICI. Pare che il Vinci a tali monumenti non si accostasse. Quest’
uomo sempre riconosce per maestra la natura, e questo principio lo
stringeva alla sola imitazione dì essa”–Compare No. 10, 26–28

The necessity of anatomical knowledge (488. 489).



It is indispensable to a Painter who would be thoroughly familiar
with the limbs in all the positions and actions of which they are
capable, in the nude, to know the anatomy of the sinews, bones,
muscles and tendons so that, in their various movements and
exertions, he may know which nerve or muscle is the cause of each
movement and show those only as prominent and thickened, and not the
others all over [the limb], as many do who, to seem great
draughtsmen, draw their nude figures looking like wood, devoid of
grace; so that you would think you were looking at a sack of walnuts
rather than the human form, or a bundle of radishes rather than the
muscles of figures.



The painter who is familiar with the nature of the sinews, muscles,
and tendons, will know very well, in giving movement to a limb, how
many and which sinews cause it; and which muscle, by swelling,
causes the contraction of that sinew; and which sinews, expanded
into the thinnest cartilage, surround and support the said muscle.
Thus he will variously and constantly demonstrate the different
muscles by means of the various attitudes of his figures, and will
not do, as many who, in a variety of movements, still display the
very same things [modelling] in the arms, back, breast and legs. And
these things are not to be regarded as minor faults.

How to acquire practice.



I say that first you ought to learn the limbs and their mechanism,
and having this knowledge, their actions should come next, according
to the circumstances in which they occur in man. And thirdly to
compose subjects, the studies for which should be taken from natural
actions and made from time to time, as circumstances allow; and pay
attention to them in the streets and piazze and fields, and note
them down with a brief indication of the forms; [Footnote 5: Lines
5-7 explained by the lower portion of the sketch No. 1 on Pl. XXXI.]
thus for a head make an o, and for an arm a straight or a bent line,
and the same for the legs and the body, [Footnote 7: Lines 5-7
explained by the lower portion of the sketch No. 1 on Pl. XXXI.] and
when you return home work out these notes in a complete form. The
Adversary says that to acquire practice and do a great deal of work
it is better that the first period of study should be employed in
drawing various compositions done on paper or on walls by divers
masters, and that in this way practice is rapidly gained, and good
methods; to which I reply that the method will be good, if it is
based on works of good composition and by skilled masters. But since
such masters are so rare that there are but few of them to be found,
it is a surer way to go to natural objects, than to those which are
imitated from nature with great deterioration, and so form bad
methods; for he who can go to the fountain does not go to the

[Footnote: This passage has been published by Dr. M. JORDAN, Das
Malerbuck des L. da Vinci
, p. 89; his reading however varies
slightly from mine.]

Industry and thoroughness the first conditions (491-493.)



We know for certain that sight is one of the most rapid actions we
can perform. In an instant we see an infinite number of forms, still
we only take in thoroughly one object at a time. Supposing that you,
Reader, were to glance rapidly at the whole of this written page,
you would instantly perceive that it was covered with various
letters; but you could not, in the time, recognise what the letters
were, nor what they were meant to tell. Hence you would need to see
them word by word, line by line to be able to understand the
letters. Again, if you wish to go to the top of a building you must
go up step by step; otherwise it will be impossible that you should
reach the top. Thus I say to you, whom nature prompts to pursue this
art, if you wish to have a sound knowledge of the forms of objects
begin with the details of them, and do not go on to the second
[step] till you have the first well fixed in memory and in practice.
And if you do otherwise you will throw away your time, or certainly
greatly prolong your studies. And remember to acquire diligence
rather than rapidity.



If you, who draw, desire to study well and to good purpose, always
go slowly to work in your drawing; and discriminate in. the lights,
which have the highest degree of brightness, and to what extent and
likewise in the shadows, which are those that are darker than the
others and in what way they intermingle; then their masses and the
relative proportions of one to the other. And note in their
outlines, which way they tend; and which part of the lines is curved
to one side or the other, and where they are more or less
conspicuous and consequently broad or fine; and finally, that your
light and shade blend without strokes and borders [but] looking like
smoke. And when you have thus schooled your hand and your judgment
by such diligence, you will acquire rapidity before you are aware.

The artist’s private life and choice of company (493-494).



A painter needs such mathematics as belong to painting. And the
absence of all companions who are alienated from his studies; his
brain must be easily impressed by the variety of objects, which
successively come before him, and also free from other cares
[Footnote 6: Leonardo here seems to be speaking of his own method of
work as displayed in his MSS. and this passage explains, at least in
part, the peculiarities in their arrangement.]. And if, when
considering and defining one subject, a second subject
intervenes–as happens when an object occupies the mind, then he
must decide which of these cases is the more difficult to work out,
and follow that up until it becomes quite clear, and then work out
the explanation of the other [Footnote 11: Leonardo here seems to be
speaking of his own method of work as displayed in his MSS. and this
passage explains, at least in part, the peculiarities in their
arrangement.]. And above all he must keep his mind as clear as the
surface of a mirror, which assumes colours as various as those of
the different objects. And his companions should be like him as to
their studies, and if such cannot be found he should keep his
speculations to himself alone, so that at last he will find no more
useful company [than his own].

[Footnote: In the title line Leonardo had originally written del
pictore filosofo
(the philosophical painter), but he himself struck
out_filosofo_. Compare in No. 363 pictora notomista (anatomical
painter). The original text is partly reproduced on Pl. CI.]



To the end that well-being of the body may not injure that of the
mind, the painter or draughtsman must remain solitary, and
particularly when intent on those studies and reflections which will
constantly rise up before his eye, giving materials to be well
stored in the memory. While you are alone you are entirely your own
[master] and if you have one companion you are but half your own,
and the less so in proportion to the indiscretion of his behaviour.
And if you have many companions you will fall deeper into the same
trouble. If you should say: “I will go my own way and withdraw
apart, the better to study the forms of natural objects”, I tell
you, you will not be able to help often listening to their chatter.
And so, since one cannot serve two masters, you will badly fill the
part of a companion, and carry out your studies of art even worse.
And if you say: “I will withdraw so far that their words cannot
reach me and they cannot disturb me”, I can tell you that you will
be thought mad. But, you see, you will at any rate be alone. And if
you must have companions ship find it in your studio. This may
assist you to have the advantages which arise from various
speculations. All other company may be highly mischievous.

The distribution of time for studying (495-497).



I say and insist that drawing in company is much better than alone,
for many reasons. The first is that you would be ashamed to be seen
behindhand among the students, and such shame will lead you to
careful study. Secondly, a wholesome emulation will stimulate you to
be among those who are more praised than yourself, and this praise
of others will spur you on. Another is that you can learn from the
drawings of others who do better than yourself; and if you are
better than they, you can profit by your contempt for their defects,
while the praise of others will incite you to farther merits.

[Footnote: The contradiction by this passage of the foregoing
chapter is only apparent. It is quite clear, from the nature of the
reasoning which is here used to prove that it is more improving to
work with others than to work alone, that the studies of pupils only
are under consideration here.]



I myself have proved it to be of no small use, when in bed in the
dark, to recall in fancy the external details of forms previously
studied, or other noteworthy things conceived by subtle speculation;
and this is certainly an admirable exercise, and useful for
impressing things on the memory.



Winter evenings ought to be employed by young students in looking
over the things prepared during the summer; that is, all the
drawings from the nude done in the summer should be brought together
and a choice made of the best [studies of] limbs and bodies among
them, to apply in practice and commit to memory.


After this in the following summer you should select some one who is
well grown and who has not been brought up in doublets, and so may
not be of stiff carriage, and make him go through a number of agile
and graceful actions; and if his muscles do not show plainly within
the outlines of his limbs that does not matter at all. It is enough
that you can see good attitudes and you can correct [the drawing of]
the limbs by those you studied in the winter.

[Footnote: An injunction to study in the evening occurs also in No.

On the productive power of minor artists (498-501).


He is a poor disciple who does not excel his master.


Nor is the painter praiseworthy who does but one thing well, as the
nude figure, heads, draperies, animals, landscapes or other such
details, irrespective of other work; for there can be no mind so
inept, that after devoting itself to one single thing and doing it
constantly, it should fail to do it well.

[Footnote: In MANZI’S edition (p. 502) the painter G. G. Bossi
indignantly remarks on this passage. “Parla il Vince in questo
luogo come se tutti gli artisti avessero quella sublimita d’ingegno
capace di abbracciare tutte le cose, di cui era egli dotato”
And he
then mentions the case of CLAUDE LORRAIN. But he overlooks the fact
that in Leonardo’s time landscape painting made no pretensions to
independence but was reckoned among the details (particulari,
lines 3, 4).]



Some may distinctly assert that those persons are under a delusion
who call that painter a good master who can do nothing well but a
head or a figure. Certainly this is no great achievement; after
studying one single thing for a life-time who would not have
attained some perfection in it? But, since we know that painting
embraces and includes in itself every object produced by nature or
resulting from the fortuitous actions of men, in short, all that the
eye can see, he seems to me but a poor master who can only do a
figure well. For do you not perceive how many and various actions
are performed by men only; how many different animals there are, as
well as trees, plants, flowers, with many mountainous regions and
plains, springs and rivers, cities with public and private
buildings, machines, too, fit for the purposes of men, divers
costumes, decorations and arts? And all these things ought to be
regarded as of equal importance and value, by the man who can be
termed a good painter.



Now there is a certain race of painters who, having studied but
little, must need take as their standard of beauty mere gold and
azure, and these, with supreme conceit, declare that they will not
give good work for miserable payment, and that they could do as well
as any other if they were well paid. But, ye foolish folks! cannot
such artists keep some good work, and then say: this is a costly
work and this more moderate and this is average work and show that
they can work at all prices?

A caution against one-sided study.



Any master who should venture to boast that he could remember all
the forms and effects of nature would certainly appear to me to be
graced with extreme ignorance, inasmuch as these effects are
infinite and our memory is not extensive enough to retain them.
Hence, O! painter, beware lest the lust of gain should supplant in
you the dignity of art; for the acquisition of glory is a much
greater thing than the glory of riches. Hence, for these and other
reasons which might be given, first strive in drawing to represent
your intention to the eye by expressive forms, and the idea
originally formed in your imagination; then go on taking out or
putting in, until you have satisfied yourself. Then have living men,
draped or nude, as you may have purposed in your work, and take care
that in dimensions and size, as determined by perspective, nothing
is left in the work which is not in harmony with reason and the
effects in nature. And this will be the way to win honour in your

How to acquire universality (503-506).



The painter should aim at universality, because there is a great
want of self-respect in doing one thing well and another badly, as
many do who study only the [rules of] measure and proportion in the
nude figure and do not seek after variety; for a man may be well
proportioned, or he may be fat and short, or tall and thin, or
medium. And a painter who takes no account of these varieties always
makes his figures on one pattern so that they might all be taken for
brothers; and this is a defect that demands stern reprehension.



Nature has beneficently provided that throughout the world you may
find something to imitate.



It is an easy matter to men to acquire universality, for all
terrestrial animals resemble each other as to their limbs, that is
in their muscles, sinews and bones; and they do not vary excepting
in length or in thickness, as will be shown under Anatomy. But then
there are aquatic animals which are of great variety; I will not try
to convince the painter that there is any rule for them for they are
of infinite variety, and so is the insect tribe.



The mind of the painter must resemble a mirror, which always takes
the colour of the object it reflects and is completely occupied by
the images of as many objects as are in front of it. Therefore you
must know, Oh Painter! that you cannot be a good one if you are not
the universal master of representing by your art every kind of form
produced by nature. And this you will not know how to do if you do
not see them, and retain them in your mind. Hence as you go through
the fields, turn your attention to various objects, and, in turn
look now at this thing and now at that, collecting a store of divers
facts selected and chosen from those of less value. But do not do
like some painters who, when they are wearied with exercising their
fancy dismiss their work from their thoughts and take exercise in
walking for relaxation, but still keep fatigue in their mind which,
though they see various objects [around them], does not apprehend
them; but, even when they meet friends or relations and are saluted
by them, although they see and hear them, take no more cognisance of
them than if they had met so much empty air.

Useful games and exercises (507. 508).



When, Oh draughtsmen, you desire to find relaxation in games you
should always practise such things as may be of use in your
profession, by giving your eye good practice in judging accurately
of the breadth and length of objects. Thus, to accustom your mind to
such things, let one of you draw a straight line at random on a
wall, and each of you, taking a blade of grass or of straw in his
hand, try to cut it to the length that the line drawn appears to him
to be, standing at a distance of 10 braccia; then each one may go up
to the line to measure the length he has judged it to be. And he who
has come nearest with his measure to the length of the pattern is
the best man, and the winner, and shall receive the prize you have
settled beforehand. Again you should take forshortened measures:
that is take a spear, or any other cane or reed, and fix on a point
at a certain distance; and let each one estimate how many times he
judges that its length will go into that distance. Again, who will
draw best a line one braccio long, which shall be tested by a
thread. And such games give occasion to good practice for the eye,
which is of the first importance in painting.



I cannot forbear to mention among these precepts a new device for
study which, although it may seem but trivial and almost ludicrous,
is nevertheless extremely useful in arousing the mind to various
inventions. And this is, when you look at a wall spotted with
stains, or with a mixture of stones, if you have to devise some
scene, you may discover a resemblance to various landscapes,
beautified with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide
valleys and hills in varied arrangement; or again you may see
battles and figures in action; or strange faces and costumes, and an
endless variety of objects, which you could reduce to complete and
well drawn forms. And these appear on such walls confusedly, like
the sound of bells in whose jangle you may find any name or word you
choose to imagine.



On the size of the studio.


Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it.

On the construction of windows (510-512).


The larger the wall the less the light will be.


The different kinds of light afforded in cellars by various forms of
windows. The least useful and the coldest is the window at a. The
most useful, the lightest and warmest and most open to the sky is
the window at b. The window at c is of medium utility.

[Footnote: From a reference to the notes on the right light for
painting it becomes evident that the observations made on
cellar-windows have a direct bearing on the construction of the
studio-window. In the diagram b as well as in that under No. 510
the window-opening is reduced to a minimum, but only, it would seem,
in order to emphasize the advantage of walls constructed on the plan
there shown.]



The painter who works from nature should have a window, which he can
raise and lower. The reason is that sometimes you will want to
finish a thing you are drawing, close to the light.

Let a b c d be the chest on which the work may be raised or
lowered, so that the work moves up and down and not the painter. And
every evening you can let down the work and shut it up above so that
in the evening it may be in the fashion of a chest which, when shut
up, may serve the purpose of a bench.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXXI, No. 2. In this plate the lines have
unfortunately lost their sharpness, for the accidental loss of the
negative has necessitated a reproduction from a positive. But having
formerly published this sketch by another process, in VON LUTZOW’S
Zeitschrift fur bildende Kunst (Vol. XVII, pg. 13) I have
reproduced it here in the text. The sharpness of the outline in the
original sketch is here preserved but it gives it from the reversed

On the best light for painting (513-520).


Which light is best for drawing from nature; whether high or low, or
large or small, or strong and broad, or strong and small, or broad
and weak or small and weak?

[Footnote: The question here put is unanswered in the original MS.]



A broad light high up and not too strong will render the details of
objects very agreeable.



The light for drawing from nature should come from the North in
order that it may not vary. And if you have it from the South, keep
the window screened with cloth, so that with the sun shining the
whole day the light may not vary. The height of the light should be
so arranged as that every object shall cast a shadow on the ground
of the same length as itself.



An object will display the greatest difference of light and shade
when it is seen in the strongest light, as by sunlight, or, at
night, by the light of a fire. But this should not be much used in
painting because the works remain crude and ungraceful.

An object seen in a moderate light displays little difference in the
light and shade; and this is the case towards evening or when the
day is cloudy, and works then painted are tender and every kind of
face becomes graceful. Thus, in every thing extremes are to be
avoided: Too much light gives crudeness; too little prevents our
seeing. The medium is best.


Again, lights cast from a small window give strong differences of
light and shade, all the more if the room lighted by it be large,
and this is not good for painting.



The luminous air which enters by passing through orifices in walls
into dark rooms will render the place less dark in proportion as the
opening cuts into the walls which surround and cover in the



In proportion to the number of times that a b goes into c d will
it be more luminous than c d. And similarly, in proportion as the
point e goes into c d will it be more luminous than c d; and
this light is useful for carvers of delicate work. [Footnote 5: For
the same reason a window thus constructed would be convenient for an
illuminator or a miniature painter.]

[Footnote: M. RAVAISSON in his edition of the Paris MS. A remarks on
this passage: “La figure porte les lettres f et g, auxquelles
rien ne renvoie dans l’explication; par consequent, cette
explication est incomplete. La figure semblerait, d’ailleurs, se
rapporter a l’effet de la reflexion par un miroir concave.”
So far
as I can see the text is not imperfect, nor is the sense obscure. It
is hardly necessary to observe that c d here indicate the wall of
the room opposite to the window e and the semicircle described by
f g stands for the arch of the sky; this occurs in various
diagrams, for example under 511. A similar semicircle, Pl III, No. 2
(and compare No. 149) is expressly called ‘orizonte‘ in writing.]


That the light should fall upon a picture from one window only. This
may be seen in the case of objects in this form. If you want to
represent a round ball at a certain height you must make it oval in
this shape, and stand so far off as that by foreshortening it
appears round.



If you should have a court yard that you can at pleasure cover with
a linen awning that light will be good. Or when you want to take a
portrait do it in dull weather, or as evening falls, making the
sitter stand with his back to one of the walls of the court yard.
Note in the streets, as evening falls, the faces of the men and
women, and when the weather is dull, what softness and delicacy you
may perceive in them. Hence, Oh Painter! have a court arranged with
the walls tinted black and a narrow roof projecting within the
walls. It should be 10 braccia wide and 20 braccia long and 10
braccia high and covered with a linen awning; or else paint a work
towards evening or when it is cloudy or misty, and this is a perfect

On various helps in preparing a picture (521-530).


To draw a nude figure from nature, or any thing else, hold in your
hand a plumb-line to enable you to judge of the relative position
of objects.



When you draw take care to set up a principal line which you must
observe all throughout the object you are drawing; every thing
should bear relation to the direction of this principal line.



Have a piece of glass as large as a half sheet of royal folio paper
and set thus firmly in front of your eyes that is, between your eye
and the thing you want to draw; then place yourself at a distance of
2/3 of a braccia from the glass fixing your head with a machine in
such a way that you cannot move it at all. Then shut or entirely
cover one eye and with a brush or red chalk draw upon the glass that
which you see beyond it; then trace it on paper from the glass,
afterwards transfer it onto good paper, and paint it if you like,
carefully attending to the arial perspective.


If you want to acquire a practice of good and correct attitudes for
your figures, make a square frame or net, and square it out with
thread; place this between your eye and the nude model you are
drawing, and draw these same squares on the paper on which you mean
to draw the figure, but very delicately. Then place a pellet of wax
on a spot of the net which will serve as a fixed point, which,
whenever you look at your model, must cover the pit of the throat;
or, if his back is turned, it may cover one of the vertebrae of the
neck. Thus these threads will guide you as to each part of the body
which, in any given attitude will be found below the pit of the
throat, or the angles of the shoulders, or the nipples, or hips and
other parts of the body; and the transverse lines of the net will
show you how much the figure is higher over the leg on which it is
posed than over the other, and the same with the hips, and the knees
and the feet. But always fix the net perpendicularly so that all the
divisions that you see the model divided into by the net work
correspond with your drawing of the model on the net work you have
sketched. The squares you draw may be as much smaller than those of
the net as you wish that your figure should be smaller than nature.
Afterwards remember when drawing figures, to use the rule of the
corresponding proportions of the limbs as you have learnt it from
the frame and net. This should be 3 braccia and a half high and 3
braccia wide; 7 braccia distant from you and 1 braccio from the

[Footnote: Leonardo is commonly credited with the invention of the
arrangement of a plate of glass commonly known as the “vertical
plane.” Professor E. VON BRUCKE in his “Bruchstucke aus der Theorie
der bildenden Kunste,”
Leipzig 1877, pg. 3, writes on this
contrivance. “Unsere Glastafel ist die sogenannte Glastafel des
Leonardo da Vinci, die in Gestalt einer Glastafel vorgestellte



Place a sheet of not too transparent paper between the relievo and
the light and you can draw thus very well.

[Footnote: Bodies thus illuminated will show on the surface of the
paper how the copyist has to distribute light and shade.]


If you want to represent a figure on a wall, the wall being
foreshortened, while the figure is to appear in its proper form, and
as standing free from the wall, you must proceed thus: have a thin
plate of iron and make a small hole in the centre; this hole must be
round. Set a light close to it in such a position as that it shines
through the central hole, then place any object or figure you please
so close to the wall that it touches it and draw the outline of the
shadow on the wall; then fill in the shade and add the lights; place
the person who is to see it so that he looks through that same hole
where at first the light was; and you will never be able to persuade
yourself that the image is not detached from the wall.

[Footnote: uno piccolo spiracelo nel mezzo. M. RAVAISSON, in his
edition of MS. A (Paris), p. 52, reads nel muro–evidently a
mistake for nel mezzo which is quite plainly written; and he
translates it “fait lui une petite ouverture dans le mur,” adding
in a note: “les mots ‘dans le mur’ paraissent etre de trop.
Leonardo a du les ecrire par distraction”
But ‘nel mezzo’ is
clearly legible even on the photograph facsimile given by Ravaisson
himself, and the objection he raises disappears at once. It is not
always wise or safe to try to prove our author’s absence of mind or
inadvertence by apparent difficulties in the sense or connection of
the text.]



If you wish to draw a figure or any other object to look 24 braccia
high you must do it in this way. First, on the surface m r draw
half the man you wish to represent; then the other half; then put on
the vault m n [the rest of] the figure spoken of above; first set
out the vertical plane on the floor of a room of the same shape as
the wall with the coved part on which you are to paint your figure.
Then, behind it, draw a figure set out in profile of whatever size
you please, and draw lines from it to the point f and, as these
lines cut m n on the vertical plane, so will the figure come on
the wall, of which the vertical plane gives a likeness, and you will
have all the [relative] heights and prominences of the figure. And
the breadth or thickness which are on the upright wall m n are to
be drawn in their proper form, since, as the wall recedes the figure
will be foreshortened by itself; but [that part of] the figure which
goes into the cove you must foreshorten, as if it were standing
upright; this diminution you must set out on a flat floor and there
must stand the figure which is to be transferred from the vertical
plane r n[Footnote 17: che leverai dalla pariete r n. The
letters refer to the larger sketch, No. 3 on Pl. XXXI.] in its real
size and reduce it once more on a vertical plane; and this will be a
good method [Footnote 18: Leonardo here says nothing as to how the
image foreshortened by perspective and thus produced on the vertical
plane is to be transferred to the wall; but from what is said in
Nos. 525 and 523 we may conclude that he was familiar with the
process of casting the enlarged shadow of a squaring net on the
surface of a wall to guide him in drawing the figure.

Pariete di rilieuo; “sur une parai en relief” (RAVAISSON). “Auf
einer Schnittlinie zum Aufrichten”
(LUDWIG). The explanation of
this puzzling expression must be sought in No. 545, lines 15-17.].

[Footnote: See Pl. XXXI. 3. The second sketch, which in the plate is
incomplete, is here reproduced and completed from the original to
illustrate the text. In the original the larger diagram is placed
between lines 5 and 6.

    1. C. A. 157a; 463a has the similar heading: ‘del cressciere
      della figura
      ‘, and the text begins: “Se voli fare 1a figura
      b c” but here it breaks off. The translation here given
      renders the meaning of the passage as I think it must be understood.
      The MS. is perfectly legible and the construction of the sentence is
      simple and clear; difficulties can only arise from the very fullness
      of the meaning, particularly towards the end of the passage.]


If you would to draw a cube in an angle of a wall, first draw the
object in its own proper shape and raise it onto a vertical plane
until it resembles the angle in which the said object is to be


Why are paintings seen more correctly in a mirror than out of it?



When you want to see if your picture corresponds throughout with the
objects you have drawn from nature, take a mirror and look in that
at the reflection of the real things, and compare the reflected
image with your picture, and consider whether the subject of the two
images duly corresponds in both, particularly studying the mirror.
You should take the mirror for your guide–that is to say a flat
mirror–because on its surface the objects appear in many respects
as in a painting. Thus you see, in a painting done on a flat
surface, objects which appear in relief, and in the mirror–also a
flat surface–they look the same. The picture has one plane surface
and the same with the mirror. The picture is intangible, in so far
as that which appears round and prominent cannot be grasped in the
hands; and it is the same with the mirror. And since you can see
that the mirror, by means of outlines, shadows and lights, makes
objects appear in relief, you, who have in your colours far stronger
lights and shades than those in the mirror, can certainly, if you
compose your picture well, make that also look like a natural scene
reflected in a large mirror.

[Footnote: I understand the concluding lines of this passage as
follows: If you draw the upper half a figure on a large sheet of
paper laid out on the floor of a room (sala be piana) to the same
scale (con le sue vere grosseze) as the lower half, already drawn
upon the wall (lines 10, 11)you must then reduce them on a ‘pariete
di rilievo
,’ a curved vertical plane which serves as a model to
reproduce the form of the vault.]



We know very well that errors are better recognised in the works of
others than in our own; and that often, while reproving little
faults in others, you may ignore great ones in yourself. To avoid
such ignorance, in the first place make yourself a master of
perspective, then acquire perfect knowledge of the proportions of
men and other animals, and also, study good architecture, that is so
far as concerns the forms of buildings and other objects which are
on the face of the earth; these forms are infinite, and the better
you know them the more admirable will your work be. And in cases
where you lack experience do not shrink from drawing them from
nature. But, to carry out my promise above [in the title]–I say
that when you paint you should have a flat mirror and often look at
your work as reflected in it, when you will see it reversed, and it
will appear to you like some other painter’s work, so you will be
better able to judge of its faults than in any other way. Again, it
is well that you should often leave off work and take a little
relaxation, because, when you come back to it you are a better
judge; for sitting too close at work may greatly deceive you. Again,
it is good to retire to a distance because the work looks smaller
and your eye takes in more of it at a glance and sees more easily
the discords or disproportion in the limbs and colours of the

On the management of works (531. 532).



When you want to know a thing you have studied in your memory
proceed in this way: When you have drawn the same thing so many
times that you think you know it by heart, test it by drawing it
without the model; but have the model traced on flat thin glass and
lay this on the drawing you have made without the model, and note
carefully where the tracing does not coincide with your drawing, and
where you find you have gone wrong; and bear in mind not to repeat
the same mistakes. Then return to the model, and draw the part in
which you were wrong again and again till you have it well in your
mind. If you have no flat glass for tracing on, take some very thin
kidts-kin parchment, well oiled and dried. And when you have used it
for one drawing you can wash it clean with a sponge and make a



Certainly while a man is painting he ought not to shrink from
hearing every opinion. For we know very well that a man, though he
may not be a painter, is familiar with the forms of other men and
very capable of judging whether they are hump backed, or have one
shoulder higher or lower than the other, or too big a mouth or nose,
and other defects; and, as we know that men are competent to judge
of the works of nature, how much more ought we to admit that they
can judge of our errors; since you know how much a man may be
deceived in his own work. And if you are not conscious of this in
yourself study it in others and profit by their faults. Therefore be
curious to hear with patience the opinions of others, consider and
weigh well whether those who find fault have ground or not for
blame, and, if so amend; but, if not make as though you had not
heard, or if he should be a man you esteem show him by argument the
cause of his mistake.

On the limitations of painting (533-535)



In objects of minute size the extent of error is not so perceptible
as in large ones; and the reason is that if this small object is a
representation of a man or of some other animal, from the immense
diminution the details cannot be worked out by the artist with the
finish that is requisite. Hence it is not actually complete; and,
not being complete, its faults cannot be determined. For instance:
Look at a man at a distance of 300 braccia and judge attentively
whether he be handsome or ugly, or very remarkable or of ordinary
appearance. You will find that with the utmost effort you cannot
persuade yourself to decide. And the reason is that at such a
distance the man is so much diminished that the character of the
details cannot be determined. And if you wish to see how much this
man is diminished [by distance] hold one of your fingers at a span’s
distance from your eye, and raise or lower it till the top joint
touches the feet of the figure you are looking at, and you will see
an incredible reduction. For this reason we often doubt as to the
person of a friend at a distance.



Painters often fall into despair of imitating nature when they see
their pictures fail in that relief and vividness which objects have
that are seen in a mirror; while they allege that they have colours
which for brightness or depth far exceed the strength of light and
shade in the reflections in the mirror, thus displaying their own
ignorance rather than the real cause, because they do not know it.
It is impossible that painted objects should appear in such relief
as to resemble those reflected in the mirror, although both are seen
on a flat surface, unless they are seen with only one eye; and the
reason is that two eyes see one object behind another as a and b
see m and n. m cannot exactly occupy [the space of] n
because the base of the visual lines is so broad that the second
body is seen beyond the first. But if you close one eye, as at s
the body f will conceal r, because the line of sight proceeds
from a single point and makes its base in the first body, whence the
second, of the same size, can never be seen.

[Footnote: This passage contains the solution of the problem
proposed in No. 29, lines 10-14. Leonardo was evidently familiar
with the law of optics on which the construction of the stereoscope
depends. Compare E. VON BRUCKE, Bruchstucke aus der Theorie der
bildenden Kunste
, pg. 69: “Schon Leonardo da Vinci wusste, dass
ein noch so gut gemaltes Bild nie den vollen Eindruck der
Korperlichkeit geben kann, wie ihn die Natur selbst giebt. Er
erklart dies auch in Kap. LIII und Kap. CCCXLI
des ‘Trattato’ in sachgemasser Weise aus dem Sehen mit beiden

Chap. 53 of DU FRESNE’S edition corresponds to No. 534 of this



The reason of this is not so easy to demonstrate as many others.
Still I will endeavour to accomplish it, if not wholly, at any rate
in part. The perspective of diminution demonstrates by reason, that
objects diminish in proportion as they are farther from the eye, and
this reasoning is confirmed by experience. Hence, the lines of sight
that extend between the object and the eye, when they are directed
to the surface of a painting are all intersected at uniform limits,
while those lines which are directed towards a piece of sculpture
are intersected at various limits and are of various lengths. The
lines which are longest extend to a more remote limb than the others
and therefore that limb looks smaller. As there are numerous lines
each longer than the others–since there are numerous parts, each
more remote than the others and these, being farther off,
necessarily appear smaller, and by appearing smaller it follows that
their diminution makes the whole mass of the object look smaller.
But this does not occur in painting; since the lines of sight all
end at the same distance there can be no diminution, hence the parts
not being diminished the whole object is undiminished, and for this
reason painting does not diminish, as a piece of sculpture does.

On the choice of a position (536-537)



The point of sight must be at the level of the eye of an ordinary
man, and the farthest limit of the plain where it touches the sky
must be placed at the level of that line where the earth and sky
meet; excepting mountains, which are independent of it.



The painter must always study on the wall on which he is to picture
a story the height of the position where he wishes to arrange his
figures; and when drawing his studies for them from nature he must
place himself with his eye as much below the object he is drawing
as, in the picture, it will have to be above the eye of the
spectator. Otherwise the work will look wrong.

The apparent size of figures in a picture (538-539)



You must make the foremost figure in the picture less than the size
of nature in proportion to the number of braccia at which you place
it from the front line, and make the others in proportion by the
above rule.



You are asked, O Painter, why the figures you draw on a small scale
according to the laws of perspective do not appear–notwithstanding
the demonstration of distance–as large as real ones–their height
being the same as in those painted on the wall.

And why [painted] objects seen at a small distance appear larger
than the real ones?

The right position of the artist, when painting, and of the
spectator (540-547)



When you draw from nature stand at a distance of 3 times the height
of the object you wish to draw.



In drawing from the round the draughtsman should so place himself
that the eye of the figure he is drawing is on a level with his own.
This should be done with any head he may have to represent from
nature because, without exception, the figures or persons you meet
in the streets have their eyes on the same level as your own; and if
you place them higher or lower you will see that your drawing will
not be true.



The universal practice which painters adopt on the walls of chapels
is greatly and reasonably to be condemned. Inasmuch as they
represent one historical subject on one level with a landscape and
buildings, and then go up a step and paint another, varying the
point [of sight], and then a third and a fourth, in such a way as
that on one wall there are 4 points of sight, which is supreme folly
in such painters. We know that the point of sight is opposite the
eye of the spectator of the scene; and if you would [have me] tell
you how to represent the life of a saint divided into several
pictures on one and the same wall, I answer that you must set out
the foreground with its point of sight on a level with the eye of
the spectator of the scene, and upon this plane represent the more
important part of the story large and then, diminishing by degrees
the figures, and the buildings on various hills and open spaces, you
can represent all the events of the history. And on the remainder of
the wall up to the top put trees, large as compared with the
figures, or angels if they are appropriate to the story, or birds or
clouds or similar objects; otherwise do not trouble yourself with it
for your whole work will be wrong.



If you want to represent an object near to you which is to have the
effect of nature, it is impossible that your perspective should not
look wrong, with every false relation and disagreement of proportion
that can be imagined in a wretched work, unless the spectator, when
he looks at it, has his eye at the very distance and height and
direction where the eye or the point of sight was placed in doing
this perspective. Hence it would be necessary to make a window, or
rather a hole, of the size of your face through which you can look
at the work; and if you do this, beyond all doubt your work, if it
is correct as to light and shade, will have the effect of nature;
nay you will hardly persuade yourself that those objects are
painted; otherwise do not trouble yourself about it, unless indeed
you make your view at least 20 times as far off as the greatest
width or height of the objects represented, and this will satisfy
any spectator placed anywhere opposite to the picture.

If you want the proof briefly shown, take a piece of wood in the
form of a little column, eight times as high as it is thick, like a
column without any plinth or capital; then mark off on a flat wall
40 equal spaces, equal to its width so that between them they make
40 columns resembling your little column; you then must fix,
opposite the centre space, and at 4 braccia from the wall, a thin
strip of iron with a small round hole in the middle about as large
as a big pearl. Close to this hole place a light touching it. Then
place your column against each mark on the wall and draw the outline
of its shadow; afterwards shade it and look through the hole in the
iron plate.

[Footnote: In the original there is a wide space between lines 3 and
4 in which we find two sketches not belonging to the text. It is
unnecessary to give prominence to the points in which my reading
differs from that of M. RAVAISSON or to justify myself, since they
are all of secondary importance and can also be immediately verified
from the photograph facsimile in his edition.]


A diminished object should be seen from the same distance, height
and direction as the point of sight of your eye, or else your
knowledge will produce no good effect.

And if you will not, or cannot, act on this principle–because as
the plane on which you paint is to be seen by several persons you
would need several points of sight which would make it look
discordant and wrong–place yourself at a distance of at least 10
times the size of the objects.

The lesser fault you can fall into then, will be that of
representing all the objects in the foreground of their proper size,
and on whichever side you are standing the objects thus seen will
diminish themselves while the spaces between them will have no
definite ratio. For, if you place yourself in the middle of a
straight row [of objects], and look at several columns arranged in a
line you will see, beyond a few columns separated by intervals, that
the columns touch; and beyond where they touch they cover each
other, till the last column projects but very little beyond the last
but one. Thus the spaces between the columns are by degrees entirely
lost. So, if your method of perspective is good, it will produce the
same effect; this effect results from standing near the line in
which the columns are placed. This method is not satisfactory unless
the objects seen are viewed from a small hole, in the middle of
which is your point of sight; but if you proceed thus your work will
be perfect and will deceive the beholder, who will see the columns
as they are here figured.

Here the eye is in the middle, at the point a and near to the

[Footnote: The diagram which stands above this chapter in the
original with the note belonging to it: “a b e la ripruova” (a b
is the proof) has obviously no connection with the text. The second
sketch alone is reproduced and stands in the original between lines
22 and 23.]


If you cannot arrange that those who look at your work should stand
at one particular point, when constructing your work, stand back
until your eye is at least 20 times as far off as the greatest
height and width of your work. This will make so little difference
when the eye of the spectator moves, that it will be hardly
appreciable, and it will look very good.

If the point of sight is at t you would make the figures on the
circle d b e all of one size, as each of them bears the same
relation to the point t. But consider the diagram given below and
you will see that this is wrong, and why I shall make b smaller
than d e [Footnote 8: The second diagram of this chapter stands in
the original between lines 8 and 9.].

It is easy to understand that if 2 objects equal to each other are
placed side by side the one at 3 braccia distance looks smaller than
that placed at 2 braccia. This however is rather theoretical than
for practice, because you stand close by [Footnote 11: Instead of
se preso‘ (=sie presso) M. RAVAISSON reads ‘sempre se‘ which
gives rise to the unmeaning rendering: ‘parceque toujours …’].

All the objects in the foreground, whether large or small, are to be
drawn of their proper size, and if you see them from a distance they
will appear just as they ought, and if you see them close they will
diminish of themselves.

[Footnote 15: Compare No. 526 line 18.] Take care that the vertical
plan on which you work out the perspective of the objects seen is of
the same form as the wall on which the work is to be executed.



The size of the figures represented ought to show you the distance
they are seen from. If you see a figure as large as nature you know
it appears to be close to the eye.



Supposing a b to be the picture and d to be the light, I say
that if you place yourself between c and e you will not
understand the picture well and particularly if it is done in oils,
or still more if it is varnished, because it will be lustrous and
somewhat of the nature of a mirror. And for this reason the nearer
you go towards the point c, the less you will see, because the
rays of light falling from the window on the picture are reflected
to that point. But if you place yourself between e and d you
will get a good view of it, and the more so as you approach the
point d, because that spot is least exposed to these reflected
rays of light.



Gradations of light and shade.



Although practical painters attribute to all shaded objects–trees,
fields, hair, beards and skin–four degrees of darkness in each
colour they use: that is to say first a dark foundation, secondly a
spot of colour somewhat resembling the form of the details, thirdly
a somewhat brighter and more defined portion, fourthly the lights
which are more conspicuous than other parts of the figure; still to
me it appears that these gradations are infinite upon a continuous
surface which is in itself infinitely divisible, and I prove it
thus:–[Footnote 7: See Pl. XXXI, No. 1; the two upper sketches.]
Let a g be a continuous surface and let d be the light which
illuminates it; I say–by the 4th [proposition] which says that that
side of an illuminated body is most highly lighted which is nearest
to the source of light–that therefore g must be darker than c
in proportion as the line d g is longer than the line d c, and
consequently that these gradations of light–or rather of shadow,
are not 4 only, but may be conceived of as infinite, because c d
is a continuous surface and every continuous surface is infinitely
divisible; hence the varieties in the length of lines extending
between the light and the illuminated object are infinite, and the
proportion of the light will be the same as that of the length of
the lines between them; extending from the centre of the luminous
body to the surface of the illuminated object.

On the choice of light for a picture (549-554).



Let a b be the window, m the point of light. I say that on
whichever side the painter places himself he will be well placed if
only his eye is between the shaded and the illuminated portions of
the object he is drawing; and this place you will find by putting
yourself between the point m and the division between the shadow
and the light on the object to be drawn.



The shadows cast by the sun or any other particular light have not a
pleasing effect on the body to which they belong, because the parts
remain confuse, being divided by distinct outlines of light and
shade. And the shadows are of equal strength at the end and at the



The light must be arranged in accordance with the natural conditions
under which you wish to represent your figures: that is, if you
represent them in the sunshine make the shadows dark with large
spaces of light, and mark their shadows and those of all the
surrounding objects strongly on the ground. And if you represent
them as in dull weather give little difference of light and shade,
without any shadows at their feet. If you represent them as within
doors, make a strong difference between the lights and shadows, with
shadows on the ground. If the window is screened and the walls
white, there will be little difference of light. If it is lighted by
firelight make the high lights ruddy and strong, and the shadows
dark, and those cast on the walls and on the floor will be clearly
defined and the farther they are from the body the broader and
longer will they be. If the light is partly from the fire and partly
from the outer day, that of day will be the stronger and that of the
fire almost as red as fire itself. Above all see that the figures
you paint are broadly lighted and from above, that is to say all
living persons that you paint; for you will see that all the people
you meet out in the street are lighted from above, and you must know
that if you saw your most intimate friend with a light [on his face]
from below you would find it difficult to recognise him.



To increase relief of a picture you may place, between your figure
and the solid object on which its shadow falls, a line of bright
light, dividing the figure from the object in shadow. And on the
same object you shall represent two light parts which will surround
the shadow cast upon the wall by the figure placed opposite [6]; and
do this frequently with the limbs which you wish should stand out
somewhat from the body they belong to; particularly when the arms
cross the front of the breast show, between the shadow cast by the
arms on the breast and the shadow on the arms themselves, a little
light seeming to fall through a space between the breast and the
arms; and the more you wish the arm to look detached from the breast
the broader you must make the light; always contrive also to arrange
the figures against the background in such a way as that the parts
in shadow are against a light background and the illuminated
portions against a dark background.

[Footnote 6: Compare the two diagrams under No. 565.]



Remember [to note] the situation of your figures; for the light and
shade will be one thing if the object is in a dark place with a
particular light, and another thing if it is in a light place with
direct sunlight; one thing in a dark place with a diffused evening
light or a cloudy sky, and another in the diffused light of the
atmosphere lighted by the sun.



First you must consider whether the figures have the relief required
by their situation and the light which illuminates them; for the
shadows should not be the same at the extreme ends of the
composition as in the middle, because it is one thing when figures
are surrounded by shadows and another when they have shadows only on
one side. Those which are in the middle of the picture are
surrounded by shadows, because they are shaded by the figures which
stand between them and the light. And those are lighted on one side
only which stand between the principal group and the light, because
where they do not look towards the light they face the group and the
darkness of the group is thrown on them: and where they do not face
the group they face the brilliant light and it is their own darkness
shadowing them, which appears there.

In the second place observe the distribution or arrangement of
figures, and whether they are distributed appropriately to the
circumstances of the story. Thirdly, whether the figures are
actively intent on their particular business.



First give a general shadow to the whole of that extended part which
is away from the light. Then put in the half shadows and the strong
shadows, comparing them with each other and, in the same way give
the extended light in half tint, afterwards adding the half lights
and the high lights, likewise comparing them together.

The distribution of light and shade (556-559)



When you represent the dark shadows in bodies in light and shade,
always show the cause of the shadow, and the same with reflections;
because the dark shadows are produced by dark objects and the
reflections by objects only moderately lighted, that is with
diminished light. And there is the same proportion between the
highly lighted part of a body and the part lighted by a reflection
as between the origin of the lights on the body and the origin of
the reflections.



I must remind you to take care that every portion of a body, and
every smallest detail which is ever so little in relief, must be
given its proper importance as to light and shade.



When you draw a figure and you wish to see whether the shadow is the
proper complement to the light, and neither redder nor yellower than
is the nature of the colour you wish to represent in shade, proceed
thus. Cast a shadow with your finger on the illuminated portion, and
if the accidental shadow that you have made is like the natural
shadow cast by your finger on your work, well and good; and by
putting your finger nearer or farther off, you can make darker or
lighter shadows, which you must compare with your own.



Take care that the shadows cast upon the surface of the bodies by
different objects must undulate according to the various curves of
the limbs which cast the shadows, and of the objects on which they
are cast.

The juxtaposition of light and shade (560, 561).



The comparison of the various qualities of shadows and lights not
infrequently seems ambiguous and confused to the painter who desires
to imitate and copy the objects he sees. The reason is this: If you
see a white drapery side by side with a black one, that part of the
white drapery which lies against the black one will certainly look
much whiter than the part which lies against something whiter than
itself. [Footnote: It is evident from this that so early as in 1492
Leonardo’s writing in perspective was so far advanced that he could
quote his own statements.–As bearing on this subject compare what
is said in No. 280.] And the reason of this is shown in my [book on]



Where a shadow ends in the light, note carefully where it is paler
or deeper and where it is more or less indistinct towards the light;
and, above all, in [painting] youthful figures I remind you not to
make the shadow end like a stone, because flesh has a certain
transparency, as may be seen by looking at a hand held between the
eye and the sun, which shines through it ruddy and bright. Place the
most highly coloured part between the light and shadow. And to see
what shadow tint is needed on the flesh, cast a shadow on it with
your finger, and according as you wish to see it lighter or darker
hold your finger nearer to or farther from your picture, and copy
that [shadow].

On the lighting of the background (562-565).



The ground which surrounds the forms of any object you paint should
be darker than the high lights of those figures, and lighter than
their shadowed part: &c.



Since experience shows us that all bodies are surrounded by light
and shade it is necessary that you, O Painter, should so arrange
that the side which is in light shall terminate against a dark body
and likewise that the shadow side shall terminate against a light
body. And by [following] this rule you will add greatly to the
relief of your figures.


A most important part of painting consists in the backgrounds of the
objects represented; against these backgrounds the outlines of
those natural objects which are convex are always visible, and also
the forms of these bodies against the background, even though the
colours of the bodies should be the same as that of the background.
This is caused by the convex edges of the objects not being
illuminated in the same way as, by the same light, the background is
illuminated, since these edges will often be lighter or darker than
the background. But if the edge is of the same colour as the
background, beyond a doubt it will in that part of the picture
interfere with your perception of the outline, and such a choice in
a picture ought to be rejected by the judgment of good painters,
inasmuch as the purpose of the painter is to make his figures appear
detached from the background; while in the case here described the
contrary occurs, not only in the picture, but in the objects


That you ought, when representing objects above the eye and on one
side–if you wish them to look detached from the wall–to show,
between the shadow on the object and the shadow it casts a middle
light, so that the body will appear to stand away from the wall.

On the lighting of white objects.



If you are representing a white body let it be surrounded by ample
space, because as white has no colour of its own, it is tinged and
altered in some degree by the colour of the objects surrounding it.
If you see a woman dressed in white in the midst of a landscape,
that side which is towards the sun is bright in colour, so much so
that in some portions it will dazzle the eyes like the sun itself;
and the side which is towards the atmosphere,–luminous through
being interwoven with the sun’s rays and penetrated by them–since
the atmosphere itself is blue, that side of the woman’s figure will
appear steeped in blue. If the surface of the ground about her be
meadows and if she be standing between a field lighted up by the sun
and the sun itself, you will see every portion of those folds which
are towards the meadow tinged by the reflected rays with the colour
of that meadow. Thus the white is transmuted into the colours of the
luminous and of the non-luminous objects near it.

The methods of aerial (567–570).



We see quite plainly that all the images of visible objects that lie
before us, whether large or small, reach our sense by the minute
aperture of the eye; and if, through so small a passage the image
can pass of the vast extent of sky and earth, the face of a
man–being by comparison with such large images almost nothing by
reason of the distance which diminishes it,–fills up so little of
the eye that it is indistinguishable. Having, also, to be
transmitted from the surface to the sense through a dark medium,
that is to say the crystalline lens which looks dark, this image,
not being strong in colour becomes affected by this darkness on its
passage, and on reaching the sense it appears dark; no other reason
can in any way be assigned. If the point in the eye is black, it is
because it is full of a transparent humour as clear as air and acts
like a perforation in a board; on looking into it it appears dark
and the objects seen through the bright air and a dark one become
confused in this darkness.


The perspective of diminution shows us that the farther away an
object is the smaller it looks. If you look at a man at a distance
from you of an arrow’s flight, and hold the eye of a small needle
close to your own eye, you can see through it several men whose
images are transmitted to the eye and will all be comprised within
the size of the needle’s eye; hence, if the man who is at the
distance of an arrow’s flight can send his whole image to your eye,
occupying only a small space in the needle’s eye how can you
[expect] in so small a figure to distinguish or see the nose or
mouth or any detail of his person? and, not seeing these you cannot
recognise the man, since these features, which he does not show, are
what give men different aspects.



I say that the reason that objects appear diminished in size is
because they are remote from the eye; this being the case it is
evident that there must be a great extent of atmosphere between the
eye and the objects, and this air interferes with the distinctness
of the forms of the object. Hence the minute details of these
objects will be indistinguishable and unrecognisable. Therefore, O
Painter, make your smaller figures merely indicated and not highly
finished, otherwise you will produce effects the opposite to nature,
your supreme guide. The object is small by reason of the great
distance between it and the eye, this great distance is filled with
air, that mass of air forms a dense body which intervenes and
prevents the eye seeing the minute details of objects.


Whenever a figure is placed at a considerable distance you lose
first the distinctness of the smallest parts; while the larger parts
are left to the last, losing all distinctness of detail and outline;
and what remains is an oval or spherical figure with confused edges.



The density of a body of smoke looks white below the horizon while
above the horizon it is dark, even if the smoke is in itself of a
uniform colour, this uniformity will vary according to the variety
in the ground on which it is seen.



Of sketching figures and portraits (571-572).



When you have well learnt perspective and have by heart the parts
and forms of objects, you must go about, and constantly, as you go,
observe, note and consider the circumstances and behaviour of men in
talking, quarrelling or laughing or fighting together: the action of
the men themselves and the actions of the bystanders, who separate
them or who look on. And take a note of them with slight strokes
thus, in a little book which you should always carry with you. And
it should be of tinted paper, that it may not be rubbed out, but
change the old [when full] for a new one; since these things should
not be rubbed out but preserved with great care; for the forms, and
positions of objects are so infinite that the memory is incapable of
retaining them, wherefore keep these [sketches] as your guides and

[Footnote: Among Leonardo’s numerous note books of pocket size not
one has coloured paper, so no sketches answering to this description
can be pointed out. The fact that most of the notes are written in
ink, militates against the supposition that they were made in the
open air.]



If you want to acquire facility for bearing in mind the expression
of a face, first make yourself familiar with a variety of [forms of]
several heads, eyes, noses, mouths, chins and cheeks and necks and
shoulders: And to put a case: Noses are of 10 types: straight,
bulbous, hollow, prominent above or below the middle, aquiline,
regular, flat, round or pointed. These hold good as to profile. In
full face they are of 11 types; these are equal thick in the middle,
thin in the middle, with the tip thick and the root narrow, or
narrow at the tip and wide at the root; with the nostrils wide or
narrow, high or low, and the openings wide or hidden by the point;
and you will find an equal variety in the other details; which
things you must draw from nature and fix them in your mind. Or else,
when you have to draw a face by heart, carry with you a little book
in which you have noted such features; and when you have cast a
glance at the face of the person you wish to draw, you can look, in
private, which nose or mouth is most like, or there make a little
mark to recognise it again at home. Of grotesque faces I need say
nothing, because they are kept in mind without difficulty.

The position of the head.



To draw a head in which the features shall agree with the turn and
bend of the head, pursue this method. You know that the eyes,
eyebrows, nostrils, corners of the mouth, and sides of the chin, the
jaws, cheeks, ears and all the parts of a face are squarely and
straightly set upon the face.

[Footnote: Compare the drawings and the text belonging to them on
Pl. IX. (No. 315), Pl. X (No. 316), Pl. XL (No. 318) and Pl. XII.
(No. 319).]

Therefore when you have sketched the face draw lines passing from
one corner of the eye to the other; and so for the placing of each
feature; and after having drawn the ends of the lines beyond the two
sides of the face, look if the spaces inside the same parallel lines
on the right and on the left are equal [12]. But be sure to remember
to make these lines tend to the point of sight.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXXI, No. 4, the slight sketch on the left hand
side. The text of this passage is written by the side of it. In this
sketch the lines seem intentionally incorrect and converging to the
right (compare I. 12) instead of parallel. Compare too with this
text the drawing in red chalk from Windsor Castle which is
reproduced on Pl. XL, No. 2.]

Of the light on the face (574-576).



Let f be the light, the head will be the object illuminated by it
and that side of the head on which the rays fall most directly will
be the most highly lighted, and those parts on which the rays fall
most aslant will be less lighted. The light falls as a blow might,
since a blow which falls perpendicularly falls with the greatest
force, and when it falls obliquely it is less forcible than the
former in proportion to the width of the angle. Exempli gratia if
you throw a ball at a wall of which the extremities are equally far
from you the blow will fall straight, and if you throw the ball at
the wall when standing at one end of it the ball will hit it
obliquely and the blow will not tell.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXXI. No. 4; the sketch on the right hand side.]



Since it is proved that every definite light is, or seems to be,
derived from one single point the side illuminated by it will have
its highest light on the portion where the line of radiance falls
perpendicularly; as is shown above in the lines a g, and also in
a h and in l a; and that portion of the illuminated side will be
least luminous, where the line of incidence strikes it between two
more dissimilar angles, as is seen at b c d. And by this means you
may also know which parts are deprived of light as is seen at m k.

Where the angles made by the lines of incidence are most equal there
will be the highest light, and where they are most unequal it will
be darkest.

I will make further mention of the reason of reflections.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXXII. The text, here given complete, is on the
right hand side. The small circles above the beginning of lines 5
and 11 as well as the circle above the text on Pl. XXXI, are in a
paler ink and evidently added by a later hand in order to
distinguish the text as belonging to the Libro di Pittura (see
Prolegomena. No. 12, p. 3). The text on the left hand side of this
page is given as Nos. 577 and 137.]


Where the shadow should be on the face.

General suggestions for historical pictures (577-581).


When you compose a historical picture take two points, one the point
of sight, and the other the source of light; and make this as
distant as possible.


Historical pictures ought not to be crowded and confused with too
many figures.



Let you sketches of historical pictures be swift and the working out
of the limbs not be carried too far, but limited to the position of
the limbs, which you can afterwards finish as you please and at your

[Footnote: See Pl. XXXVIII, No. 2. The pen and ink drawing given
there as No. 3 may also be compared with this passage. It is in the
Windsor collection where it is numbered 101.]


The sorest misfortune is when your views are in advance of your


Of composing historical pictures. Of not considering the limbs in
the figures in historical pictures; as many do who, in the wish to
represent the whole of a figure, spoil their compositions. And when
you place one figure behind another take care to draw the whole of
it so that the limbs which come in front of the nearer figures may
stand out in their natural size and place.

How to represent the differences of age and sex (582-583).


How the ages of man should be depicted: that is, Infancy, Childhood,
Youth, Manhood, Old age, Decrepitude.

[Footnote: No answer is here given to this question, in the original


Old men ought to be represented with slow and heavy movements, their
legs bent at the knees, when they stand still, and their feet placed
parallel and apart; bending low with the head leaning forward, and
their arms but little extended.

Women must be represented in modest attitudes, their legs close
together, their arms closely folded, their heads inclined and
somewhat on one side.

Old women should be represented with eager, swift and furious
gestures, like infernal furies; but the action should be more
violent in their arms and head than in their legs.

Little children, with lively and contorted movements when sitting,
and, when standing still, in shy and timid attitudes.

[Footnote: bracci raccolte. Compare Pl. XXXIII. This drawing, in
silver point on yellowish tinted paper, the lights heightened with
white, represents two female hands laid together in a lap. Above is
a third finished study of a right hand, apparently holding a veil
from the head across the bosom. This drawing evidently dates from
before 1500 and was very probably done at Florence, perhaps as a
preparatory study for some picture. The type of hand with its
slender thin forms is more like the style of the Vierge aux
in the Louvre than any later works–as the Mona Lisa for

Of representing the emotions.



That figure is most admirable which by its actions best expresses
the passion that animates it.


You must make an angry person holding someone by the hair, wrenching
his head against the ground, and with one knee on his ribs; his
right arm and fist raised on high. His hair must be thrown up, his
brow downcast and knit, his teeth clenched and the two corners of
his mouth grimly set; his neck swelled and bent forward as he leans
over his foe, and full of furrows.


You must show a man in despair with a knife, having already torn
open his garments, and with one hand tearing open the wound. And
make him standing on his feet and his legs somewhat bent and his
whole person leaning towards the earth; his hair flying in disorder.

Of representing imaginary animals.



You know that you cannot invent animals without limbs, each of
which, in itself, must resemble those of some other animal. Hence if
you wish to make an animal, imagined by you, appear natural–let us
say a Dragon, take for its head that of a mastiff or hound, with the
eyes of a cat, the ears of a porcupine, the nose of a greyhound, the
brow of a lion, the temples of an old cock, the neck of a water

[Footnote: The sketch here inserted of two men on horseback fighting
a dragon is the facsimile of a pen and ink drawing belonging to

The selection of forms.



A painter who has clumsy hands will paint similar hands in his
works, and the same will occur with any limb, unless long study has
taught him to avoid it. Therefore, O Painter, look carefully what
part is most ill-favoured in your own person and take particular
pains to correct it in your studies. For if you are coarse, your
figures will seem the same and devoid of charm; and it is the same
with any part that may be good or poor in yourself; it will be shown
in some degree in your figures.



It seems to me to be no small charm in a painter when he gives his
figures a pleasing air, and this grace, if he have it not by nature,
he may acquire by incidental study in this way: Look about you and
take the best parts of many beautiful faces, of which the beauty is
confirmed rather by public fame than by your own judgment; for you
might be mistaken and choose faces which have some resemblance to
your own. For it would seem that such resemblances often please us;
and if you should be ugly, you would select faces that were not
beautiful and you would then make ugly faces, as many painters do.
For often a master’s work resembles himself. So select beauties as I
tell you, and fix them in your mind.


Of the limbs, which ought to be carefully selected, and of all the
other parts with regard to painting.


When selecting figures you should choose slender ones rather than
lean and wooden ones.



The hollow spaces interposed between the muscles must not be of such
a character as that the skin should seem to cover two sticks laid
side by side like c, nor should they seem like two sticks somewhat
remote from such contact so that the skin hangs in an empty loose
curve as at f; but it should be like i, laid over the spongy fat
that lies in the angles as the angle n m o; which angle is formed
by the contact of the ends of the muscles and as the skin cannot
fold down into such an angle, nature has filled up such angles with
a small quantity of spongy and, as I may say, vesicular fat, with
minute bladders [in it] full of air, which is condensed or rarefied
in them according to the increase or the diminution of the substance
of the muscles; in which latter case the concavity i always has a
larger curve than the muscle.



When representing a human figure or some graceful animal, be careful
to avoid a wooden stiffness; that is to say make them move with
equipoise and balance so as not to look like a piece of wood; but
those you want to represent as strong you must not make so,
excepting in the turn of the head.

How to pose figures.



The limbs should be adapted to the body with grace and with
reference to the effect that you wish the figure to produce. And if
you wish to produce a figure that shall of itself look light and
graceful you must make the limbs elegant and extended, and without
too much display of the muscles; and those few that are needed for
your purpose you must indicate softly, that is, not very prominent
and without strong shadows; the limbs, and particularly the arms
easy; that is, none of the limbs should be in a straight line with
the adjoining parts. And if the hips, which are the pole of a man,
are by reason of his position, placed so, that the right is higher
than the left, make the point of the higher shoulder in a
perpendicular line above the highest prominence of the hip, and let
this right shoulder be lower than the left. Let the pit of the
throat always be over the centre of the joint of the foot on which
the man is leaning. The leg which is free should have the knee lower
than the other, and near the other leg. The positions of the head
and arms are endless and I shall therefore not enlarge on any rules
for them. Still, let them be easy and pleasing, with various turns
and twists, and the joints gracefully bent, that they may not look
like pieces of wood.

Of appropriate gestures (593-600).


A picture or representation of human figures, ought to be done in
such a way as that the spectator may easily recognise, by means of
their attitudes, the purpose in their minds. Thus, if you have to
represent a man of noble character in the act of speaking, let his
gestures be such as naturally accompany good words; and, in the same
way, if you wish to depict a man of a brutal nature, give him fierce
movements; as with his arms flung out towards the listener, and his
head and breast thrust forward beyond his feet, as if following the
speaker’s hands. Thus it is with a deaf and dumb person who, when he
sees two men in conversation–although he is deprived of
hearing–can nevertheless understand, from the attitudes and
gestures of the speakers, the nature of their discussion. I once saw
in Florence a man who had become deaf who, when you spoke very loud
did not understand you, but if you spoke gently and without making
any sound, understood merely from the movement of the lips. Now
perhaps you will say that the lips of a man who speaks loudly do not
move like those of one speaking softly, and that if they were to
move them alike they would be alike understood. As to this argument,
I leave the decision to experiment; make a man speak to you gently
and note [the motion of] his lips.

[Footnote: The first ten lines of this text have already been
published, but with a slightly different reading by Dr. M. JORDAN:
Das Malerbuch Leonardo da Vinci’s p. 86.]



When you wish to represent a man speaking to a number of people,
consider the matter of which he has to treat and adapt his action to
the subject. Thus, if he speaks persuasively, let his action be
appropriate to it. If the matter in hand be to set forth an
argument, let the speaker, with the fingers of the right hand hold
one finger of the left hand, having the two smaller ones closed; and
his face alert, and turned towards the people with mouth a little
open, to look as though he spoke; and if he is sitting let him
appear as though about to rise, with his head forward. If you
represent him standing make him leaning slightly forward with body
and head towards the people. These you must represent as silent and
attentive, all looking at the orator’s face with gestures of
admiration; and make some old men in astonishment at the things they
hear, with the corners of their mouths pulled down and drawn in,
their cheeks full of furrows, and their eyebrows raised, and
wrinkling the forehead where they meet. Again, some sitting with
their fingers clasped holding their weary knees. Again, some bent
old man, with one knee crossed over the other; on which let him hold
his hand with his other elbow resting in it and the hand supporting
his bearded chin.

[Footnote: The sketches introduced here are a facsimile of a pen and
ink drawing in the Louvre which Herr CARL BRUN considers as studies
for the Last Supper in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (see
Leonardo da Vinci, LXI, pp. 21, 27 and 28 in DOHME’S Kunst und
, Leipzig, Seemann). I shall not here enter into any
discussion of this suggestion; but as a justification for
introducing the drawing in this place, I may point out that some of
the figures illustrate this passage as perfectly as though they had
been drawn for that express purpose. I have discussed the
probability of a connection between this sketch and the picture of
the Last Supper on p. 335. The original drawing is 27 3/4
centimetres wide by 21 high.–The drawing in silver point on reddish
paper given on Pl. LII. No. 1–the original at Windsor Castle–may
also serve to illustrate the subject of appropriate gestures,
treated in Nos. 593 and 594.]



As regards the disposition of limbs in movement you will have to
consider that when you wish to represent a man who, by some chance,
has to turn backwards or to one side, you must not make him move his
feet and all his limbs towards the side to which he turns his head.
Rather must you make the action proceed by degrees and through the
different joints; that is, those of the foot, the knee and the hip
and the neck. And if you set him on the right leg, you must make the
left knee bend inwards, and let his foot be slightly raised on the
outside, and the left shoulder be somewhat lower than the right,
while the nape of the neck is in a line directly over the outer
ancle of the left foot. And the left shoulder will be in a
perpendicular line above the toes of the right foot. And always set
your figures so that the side to which the head turns is not the
side to which the breast faces, since nature for our convenience has
made us with a neck which bends with ease in many directions, the
eye wishing to turn to various points, the different joints. And if
at any time you make a man sitting with his arms at work on
something which is sideways to him, make the upper part of his body
turn upon the hips.

[Footnote: Compare Pl. VII, No. 5. The original drawing at Windsor
Castle is numbered 104.]


When you draw the nude always sketch the whole figure and then
finish those limbs which seem to you the best, but make them act
with the other limbs; otherwise you will get a habit of never
putting the limbs well together on the body.

Never make the head turn the same way as the torso, nor the arm and
leg move together on the same side. And if the face is turned to the
right shoulder, make all the parts lower on the left side than on
the right; and when you turn the body with the breast outwards, if
the head turns to the left side make the parts on the right side
higher than those on the left.

[Footnote: In the original MS. a much defaced sketch is to be seen
by the side of the second part of this chapter; its faded condition
has rendered reproduction impossible. In M. RAVAISSON’S facsimile
the outlines of the head have probably been touched up. This passage
however is fitly illustrated by the drawings on Pl. XXI.]



Of the nature of movements in man. Do not repeat the same gestures
in the limbs of men unless you are compelled by the necessity of
their action, as is shown in a b.

[Footnote: See Pl. V, where part of the text is also reproduced. The
effaced figure to the extreme left has evidently been cancelled by
Leonardo himself as unsatisfactory.]


The motions of men must be such as suggest their dignity or their



Make your work carry out your purpose and meaning. That is when you
draw a figure consider well who it is and what you wish it to be


With regard to any action which you give in a picture to an old man
or to a young one, you must make it more energetic in the young man
in proportion as he is stronger than the old one; and in the same
way with a young man and an infant.



The limbs which are used for labour must be muscular and those which
are not much used you must make without muscles and softly rounded.


Represent your figures in such action as may be fitted to express
what purpose is in the mind of each; otherwise your art will not be



Of painting battle pieces (601-603).



First you must represent the smoke of artillery mingling in the air
with the dust and tossed up by the movement of horses and the
combatants. And this mixture you must express thus: The dust, being
a thing of earth, has weight; and although from its fineness it is
easily tossed up and mingles with the air, it nevertheless readily
falls again. It is the finest part that rises highest; hence that
part will be least seen and will look almost of the same colour as
the air. The higher the smoke mixed with the dust-laden air rises
towards a certain level, the more it will look like a dark cloud;
and it will be seen that at the top, where the smoke is more
separate from the dust, the smoke will assume a bluish tinge and the
dust will tend to its colour. This mixture of air, smoke and dust
will look much lighter on the side whence the light comes than on
the opposite side. The more the combatants are in this turmoil the
less will they be seen, and the less contrast will there be in their
lights and shadows. Their faces and figures and their appearance,
and the musketeers as well as those near them you must make of a
glowing red. And this glow will diminish in proportion as it is
remote from its cause.

The figures which are between you and the light, if they be at a
distance, will appear dark on a light background, and the lower part
of their legs near the ground will be least visible, because there
the dust is coarsest and densest [19]. And if you introduce horses
galloping outside the crowd, make the little clouds of dust distant
from each other in proportion to the strides made by the horses; and
the clouds which are furthest removed from the horses, should be
least visible; make them high and spreading and thin, and the nearer
ones will be more conspicuous and smaller and denser [23]. The air
must be full of arrows in every direction, some shooting upwards,
some falling, some flying level. The balls from the guns must have a
train of smoke following their flight. The figures in the foreground
you must make with dust on the hair and eyebrows and on other flat
places likely to retain it. The conquerors you will make rushing
onwards with their hair and other light things flying on the wind,
with their brows bent down,

[Footnote: 19–23. Compare 608. 57–75.]


and with the opposite limbs thrust forward; that is where a man puts
forward the right foot the left arm must be advanced. And if you
make any one fallen, you must show the place where he has slipped
and been dragged along the dust into blood stained mire; and in the
half-liquid earth arround show the print of the tramping of men and
horses who have passed that way. Make also a horse dragging the dead
body of his master, and leaving behind him, in the dust and mud, the
track where the body was dragged along. You must make the conquered
and beaten pale, their brows raised and knit, and the skin above
their brows furrowed with pain, the sides of the nose with wrinkles
going in an arch from the nostrils to the eyes, and make the
nostrils drawn up–which is the cause of the lines of which I
speak–, and the lips arched upwards and discovering the upper
teeth; and the teeth apart as with crying out and lamentation. And
make some one shielding his terrified eyes with one hand, the palm
towards the enemy, while the other rests on the ground to support
his half raised body. Others represent shouting with their mouths
open, and running away. You must scatter arms of all sorts among the
feet of the combatants, as broken shields, lances, broken swords and
other such objects. And you must make the dead partly or entirely
covered with dust, which is changed into crimson mire where it has
mingled with the flowing blood whose colour shows it issuing in a
sinuous stream from the corpse. Others must be represented in the
agonies of death grinding their teeth, rolling their eyes, with
their fists clenched against their bodies and their legs contorted.
Some might be shown disarmed and beaten down by the enemy, turning
upon the foe, with teeth and nails, to take an inhuman and bitter
revenge. You might see some riderless horse rushing among the enemy,
with his mane flying in the wind, and doing no little mischief with
his heels. Some maimed warrior may be seen fallen to the earth,
covering himself with his shield, while the enemy, bending over him,
tries to deal him a deathstroke. There again might be seen a number
of men fallen in a heap over a dead horse. You would see some of the
victors leaving the fight and issuing from the crowd, rubbing their
eyes and cheeks with both hands to clean them of the dirt made by
their watering eyes smarting from the dust and smoke. The reserves
may be seen standing, hopeful but cautious; with watchful eyes,
shading them with their hands and gazing through the dense and murky
confusion, attentive to the commands of their captain. The captain
himself, his staff raised, hurries towards these auxiliaries,
pointing to the spot where they are most needed. And there may be a
river into which horses are galloping, churning up the water all
round them into turbulent waves of foam and water, tossed into the
air and among the legs and bodies of the horses. And there must not
be a level spot that is not trampled with gore.



As to men and horses represented in battle, their different parts
will be dark in proportion as they are nearer to the ground on which
they stand. And this is proved by the sides of wells which grow
darker in proportion to their depth, the reason of which is that the
deepest part of the well sees and receives a smaller amount of the
luminous atmosphere than any other part.

And the pavement, if it be of the same colour as the legs of these
said men and horses, will always be more lighted and at a more
direct angle than the said legs &c.



That which is entirely bereft of light is all darkness; given a
night under these conditions and that you want to represent a night
scene,–arrange that there shall be a great fire, then the objects
which are nearest to this fire will be most tinged with its colour;
for those objects which are nearest to a coloured light participate
most in its nature; as therefore you give the fire a red colour, you
must make all the objects illuminated by it ruddy; while those which
are farther from the fire are more tinted by the black hue of night.
The figures which are seen against the fire look dark in the glare
of the firelight because that side of the objects which you see is
tinged by the darkness of the night and not by the fire; and those
who stand at the side are half dark and half red; while those who
are visible beyond the edges of the flame will be fully lighted by
the ruddy glow against a black background. As to their gestures,
make those which are near it screen themselves with their hands and
cloaks as a defence against the intense heat, and with their faces
turned away as if about to retire. Of those farther off represent
several as raising their hands to screen their eyes, hurt by the
intolerable glare.

Of depicting a tempest (605. 606).


Describe a wind on land and at sea. Describe a storm of rain.



If you wish to represent a tempest consider and arrange well its
effects as seen, when the wind, blowing over the face of the sea and
earth, removes and carries with it such things as are not fixed to
the general mass. And to represent the storm accurately you must
first show the clouds scattered and torn, and flying with the wind,
accompanied by clouds of sand blown up from the sea shore, and
boughs and leaves swept along by the strength and fury of the blast
and scattered with other light objects through the air. Trees and
plants must be bent to the ground, almost as if they would follow
the course of the gale, with their branches twisted out of their
natural growth and their leaves tossed and turned about [Footnote
11: See Pl. XL, No. 2.]. Of the men who are there some must have
fallen to the ground and be entangled in their garments, and hardly
to be recognized for the dust, while those who remain standing may
be behind some tree, with their arms round it that the wind may not
tear them away; others with their hands over their eyes for the
dust, bending to the ground with their clothes and hair streaming in
the wind. [Footnote 15: See Pl. XXXIV, the right hand lower sketch.]
Let the sea be rough and tempestuous and full of foam whirled among
the lofty waves, while the wind flings the lighter spray through the
stormy air, till it resembles a dense and swathing mist. Of the
ships that are therein some should be shown with rent sails and the
tatters fluttering through the air, with ropes broken and masts
split and fallen. And the ship itself lying in the trough of the sea
and wrecked by the fury of the waves with the men shrieking and
clinging to the fragments of the vessel. Make the clouds driven by
the impetuosity of the wind and flung against the lofty mountain
tops, and wreathed and torn like waves beating upon rocks; the air
itself terrible from the deep darkness caused by the dust and fog
and heavy clouds.

Of representing the deluge (607-609).



The air was darkened by the heavy rain whose oblique descent driven
aslant by the rush of the winds, flew in drifts through the air not
otherwise than as we see dust, varied only by the straight lines of
the heavy drops of falling water. But it was tinged with the colour
of the fire kindled by the thunder-bolts by which the clouds were
rent and shattered; and whose flashes revealed the broad waters of
the inundated valleys, above which was seen the verdure of the
bending tree tops. Neptune will be seen in the midst of the water
with his trident, and [15] let AEolus with his winds be shown
entangling the trees floating uprooted, and whirling in the huge
waves. The horizon and the whole hemisphere were obscure, but lurid
from the flashes of the incessant lightning. Men and birds might be
seen crowded on the tall trees which remained uncovered by the
swelling waters, originators of the mountains which surround the
great abysses [Footnote 23: Compare Vol. II. No. 979.].



Let the dark and gloomy air be seen buffeted by the rush of contrary
winds and dense from the continued rain mingled with hail and
bearing hither and thither an infinite number of branches torn from
the trees and mixed with numberless leaves. All round may be seen
venerable trees, uprooted and stripped by the fury of the winds; and
fragments of mountains, already scoured bare by the torrents,
falling into those torrents and choking their valleys till the
swollen rivers overflow and submerge the wide lowlands and their
inhabitants. Again, you might have seen on many of the hill-tops
terrified animals of different kinds, collected together and subdued
to tameness, in company with men and women who had fled there with
their children. The waters which covered the fields, with their
waves were in great part strewn with tables, bedsteads, boats and
various other contrivances made from necessity and the fear of
death, on which were men and women with their children amid sounds
of lamentation and weeping, terrified by the fury of the winds which
with their tempestuous violence rolled the waters under and over and
about the bodies of the drowned. Nor was there any object lighter
than the water which was not covered with a variety of animals
which, having come to a truce, stood together in a frightened
crowd–among them wolves, foxes, snakes and others–fleing from
death. And all the waters dashing on their shores seemed to be
battling them with the blows of drowned bodies, blows which killed
those in whom any life remained [19]. You might have seen
assemblages of men who, with weapons in their hands, defended the
small spots that remained to them against lions, wolves and beasts
of prey who sought safety there. Ah! what dreadful noises were heard
in the air rent by the fury of the thunder and the lightnings it
flashed forth, which darted from the clouds dealing ruin and
striking all that opposed its course. Ah! how many you might have
seen closing their ears with their hands to shut out the tremendous
sounds made in the darkened air by the raging of the winds mingling
with the rain, the thunders of heaven and the fury of the
thunder-bolts. Others were not content with shutting their eyes, but
laid their hands one over the other to cover them the closer that
they might not see the cruel slaughter of the human race by the
wrath of God. Ah! how many laments! and how many in their terror
flung themselves from the rocks! Huge branches of great oaks loaded
with men were seen borne through the air by the impetuous fury of
the winds. How many were the boats upset, some entire, and some
broken in pieces, on the top of people labouring to escape with
gestures and actions of grief foretelling a fearful death. Others,
with desperate act, took their own lives, hopeless of being able to
endure such suffering; and of these, some flung themselves from
lofty rocks, others strangled themselves with their own hands, other
seized their own children and violently slew them at a blow; some
wounded and killed themselves with their own weapons; others,
falling on their knees recommended themselves to God. Ah! how many
mothers wept over their drowned sons, holding them upon their knees,
with arms raised spread out towards heaven and with words and
various threatening gestures, upbraiding the wrath of the gods.
Others with clasped hands and fingers clenched gnawed them and
devoured them till they bled, crouching with their breast down on
their knees in their intense and unbearable anguish. Herds of
animals were to be seen, such as horses, oxen, goats and swine
already environed by the waters and left isolated on the high peaks
of the mountains, huddled together, those in the middle climbing to
the top and treading on the others, and fighting fiercely
themselves; and many would die for lack of food. Already had the
birds begun to settle on men and on other animals, finding no land
uncovered which was not occupied by living beings, and already had
famine, the minister of death, taken the lives of the greater number
of the animals, when the dead bodies, now fermented, where leaving
the depth of the waters and were rising to the top. Among the
buffeting waves, where they were beating one against the other, and,
like as balls full of air, rebounded from the point of concussion,
these found a resting place on the bodies of the dead. And above
these judgements, the air was seen covered with dark clouds, riven
by the forked flashes of the raging bolts of heaven, lighting up on
all sides the depth of the gloom.

The motion of the air is seen by the motion of the dust thrown up by
the horse’s running and this motion is as swift in again filling up
the vacuum left in the air which enclosed the horse, as he is rapid
in passing away from the air.

Perhaps it will seem to you that you may reproach me with having
represented the currents made through the air by the motion of the
wind notwithstanding that the wind itself is not visible in the air.
To this I must answer that it is not the motion of the wind but only
the motion of the things carried along by it which is seen in the

THE DIVISIONS. [Footnote 76: These observations, added at the bottom
of the page containing the full description of the doluge seem to
indicate that it was Leonardo’s intention to elaborate the subject
still farther in a separate treatise.]

Darkness, wind, tempest at sea, floods of water, forests on fire,
rain, bolts from heaven, earthquakes and ruins of mountains,
overthrow of cities [Footnote 81: Spianamenti di citta (overthrow
of cities). A considerable number of drawings in black chalk, at
Windsor, illustrate this catastrophe. Most of them are much rubbed;
one of the least injured is reproduced at Pl. XXXIX. Compare also
the pen and ink sketch Pl. XXXVI.].

Whirlwinds which carry water [spouts] branches of trees, and men
through the air.

Boughs stripped off by the winds, mingling by the meeting of the
winds, with people upon them.

Broken trees loaded with people.

Ships broken to pieces, beaten on rocks.

Flocks of sheep. Hail stones, thunderbolts, whirlwinds.

People on trees which are unable to to support them; trees and
rocks, towers and hills covered with people, boats, tables, troughs,
and other means of floating. Hills covered with men, women and
animals; and lightning from the clouds illuminating every thing.

[Footnote: This chapter, which, with the next one, is written on a
loose sheet, seems to be the passage to which one of the compilers
of the Vatican copy alluded when he wrote on the margin of fol. 36:
Qua mi ricordo della mirabile discritione del Diluuio dello
” It is scarcely necessary to point out that these chapters
are among those which have never before been published. The
description in No. 607 may be regarded as a preliminary sketch for
this one. As the MS. G. (in which it is to be found) must be
attributed to the period of about 1515 we may deduce from it the
approximate date of the drawings on Pl. XXXIV, XXXV, Nos. 2 and 3,
XXXVI and XXXVII, since they obviously belong to this text. The
drawings No. 2 on Pl. XXXV are, in the original, side by side with
the text of No. 608; lines 57 to 76 are shown in the facsimile. In
the drawing in Indian ink given on Pl. XXXIV we see Wind-gods in the
sky, corresponding to the allusion to Aeolus in No. 607 1.
15.-Plates XXXVI and XXXVII form one sheet in the original. The
texts reproduced on these Plates have however no connection with the
sketches, excepting the sketches of clouds on the right hand side.
These texts are given as No. 477. The group of small figures on Pl.
XXXVII, to the left, seems to be intended for a ‘congregatione
‘ See No. 608, 1. 19.]



Let there be first represented the summit of a rugged mountain with
valleys surrounding its base, and on its sides let the surface of
the soil be seen to slide, together with the small roots of the
bushes, denuding great portions of the surrounding rocks. And
descending ruinous from these precipices in its boisterous course,
let it dash along and lay bare the twisted and gnarled roots of
large trees overthrowing their roots upwards; and let the mountains,
as they are scoured bare, discover the profound fissures made in
them by ancient earthquakes. The base of the mountains may be in
great part clothed and covered with ruins of shrubs, hurled down
from the sides of their lofty peaks, which will be mixed with mud,
roots, boughs of trees, with all sorts of leaves thrust in with the
mud and earth and stones. And into the depth of some valley may have
fallen the fragments of a mountain forming a shore to the swollen
waters of its river; which, having already burst its banks, will
rush on in monstrous waves; and the greatest will strike upon and
destroy the walls of the cities and farmhouses in the valley [14].
Then the ruins of the high buildings in these cities will throw up a
great dust, rising up in shape like smoke or wreathed clouds against
the falling rain; But the swollen waters will sweep round the pool
which contains them striking in eddying whirlpools against the
different obstacles, and leaping into the air in muddy foam; then,
falling back, the beaten water will again be dashed into the air.
And the whirling waves which fly from the place of concussion, and
whose impetus moves them across other eddies going in a contrary
direction, after their recoil will be tossed up into the air but
without dashing off from the surface. Where the water issues from
the pool the spent waves will be seen spreading out towards the
outlet; and there falling or pouring through the air and gaining
weight and impetus they will strike on the water below piercing it
and rushing furiously to reach its depth; from which being thrown
back it returns to the surface of the lake, carrying up the air that
was submerged with it; and this remains at the outlet in foam
mingled with logs of wood and other matters lighter than water.
Round these again are formed the beginnings of waves which increase
the more in circumference as they acquire more movement; and this
movement rises less high in proportion as they acquire a broader
base and thus they are less conspicuous as they die away. But if
these waves rebound from various objects they then return in direct
opposition to the others following them, observing the same law of
increase in their curve as they have already acquired in the
movement they started with. The rain, as it falls from the clouds is
of the same colour as those clouds, that is in its shaded side;
unless indeed the sun’s rays should break through them; in that case
the rain will appear less dark than the clouds. And if the heavy
masses of ruin of large mountains or of other grand buildings fall
into the vast pools of water, a great quantity will be flung into
the air and its movement will be in a contrary direction to that of
the object which struck the water; that is to say: The angle of
reflection will be equal to the angle of incidence. Of the objects
carried down by the current, those which are heaviest or rather
largest in mass will keep farthest from the two opposite shores. The
water in the eddies revolves more swiftly in proportion as it is
nearer to their centre. The crests of the waves of the sea tumble to
their bases falling with friction on the bubbles of their sides; and
this friction grinds the falling water into minute particles and
this being converted into a dense mist, mingles with the gale in the
manner of curling smoke and wreathing clouds, and at last it, rises
into the air and is converted into clouds. But the rain which falls
through the atmosphere being driven and tossed by the winds becomes
rarer or denser according to the rarity or density of the winds that
buffet it, and thus there is generated in the atmosphere a moisture
formed of the transparent particles of the rain which is near to the
eye of the spectator. The waves of the sea which break on the slope
of the mountains which bound it, will foam from the velocity with
which they fall against these hills; in rushing back they will meet
the next wave as it comes and and after a loud noise return in a
great flood to the sea whence they came. Let great numbers of
inhabitants–men and animals of all kinds–be seen driven [54] by
the rising of the deluge to the peaks of the mountains in the midst
of the waters aforesaid.

The wave of the sea at Piombino is all foaming water. [Footnote 55.
56: These two lines are written below the bottom sketch on Pl. XXXV,
3. The MS. Leic. being written about the year 1510 or later, it does
not seem to me to follow that the sketches must have been made at
Piombino, where Leonardo was in the year 1502 and possibly returned
there subsequently (see Vol. II. Topographical notes).]

Of the water which leaps up from the spot where great masses fall on
its surface. Of the winds of Piombino at Piombino. Eddies of wind
and rain with boughs and shrubs mixed in the air. Emptying the boats
of the rain water.

[Footnote: The sketches on Pl. XXXV 3 stand by the side of lines 14
to 54.]

Of depicting natural phenomena (610. 611).


The tremendous fury of the wind driven by the falling in of the
hills on the caves within–by the falling of the hills which served
as roofs to these caverns.

A stone flung through the air leaves on the eye which sees it the
impression of its motion, and the same effect is produced by the
drops of water which fall from the clouds when it [16] rains.

[17] A mountain falling on a town, will fling up dust in the form of
clouds; but the colour of this dust will differ from that of the
clouds. Where the rain is thickest let the colour of the dust be
less conspicuous and where the dust is thickest let the rain be less
conspicuous. And where the rain is mingled with the wind and with
the dust the clouds created by the rain must be more transparent
than those of dust [alone]. And when flames of fire are mingled with
clouds of smoke and water very opaque and dark clouds will be formed
[Footnote 26-28: Compare Pl. XL, 1–the drawing in Indian ink on the
left hand side, which seems to be a reminiscence of his observations
of an eruption (see his remarks on Mount Etna in Vol II).]. And the
rest of this subject will be treated in detail in the book on

[Footnote: See the sketches and text on Pl. XXXVIII, No. 1. Lines
1-16 are there given on the left hand side, 17-30 on the right. The
four lines at the bottom on the right are given as No. 472. Above
these texts, which are written backwards, there are in the original
sixteen lines in a larger writing from left to right, but only half
of this is here visible. They treat of the physical laws of motion
of air and water. It does not seem to me that there is any reason
for concluding that this writing from left to right is spurious.
Compare with it the facsimile of the rough copy of Leonardo’s letter
to Ludovico il Moro in Vol. II.]


People were to be seen eagerly embarking victuals on various kinds
of hastily made barks. But little of the waves were visible in those
places where the dark clouds and rain were reflected.

But where the flashes caused by the bolts of heaven were reflected,
there were seen as many bright spots, caused by the image of the
flashes, as there were waves to reflect them to the eye of the

The number of the images produced by the flash of lightning on the
waves of the water were multiplied in proportion to the distance of
the spectator’s eye.

So also the number of the images was diminished in proportion as
they were nearer the eye which saw them [Footnote 22. 23: Com’e
. See Vol. II, Nos. 874-878 and 892-901], as it has been
proved in the definition of the luminosity of the moon, and of our
marine horizon when the sun’s rays are reflected in it and the eye
which receives the reflection is remote from the sea.



Of chalk and paper (612–617).


To make points [crayons] for colouring dry. Temper with a little wax
and do not dry it; which wax you must dissolve with water: so that
when the white lead is thus tempered, the water being distilled, may
go off in vapour and the wax may remain; you will thus make good
crayons; but you must know that the colours must be ground with a
hot stone.


Chalk dissolves in wine and in vinegar or in aqua fortis and can be
recombined with gum.



Take powdered gall nuts and vitriol, powder them and spread them on
paper like a varnish, then write on it with a pen wetted with
spittle and it will turn as black as ink.


If you want to make foreshortened letters stretch the paper in a
drawing frame and then draw your letters and cut them out, and make
the sunbeams pass through the holes on to another stretched paper,
and then fill up the angles that are wanting.


This paper should be painted over with candle soot tempered with
thin glue, then smear the leaf thinly with white lead in oil as is
done to the letters in printing, and then print in the ordinary way.
Thus the leaf will appear shaded in the hollows and lighted on the
parts in relief; which however comes out here just the contrary.

[Footnote: This text, which accompanies a facsimile impression of a
leaf of sage, has already been published in the Saggio delle Opere
di L. da Vinci
, Milano 1872, p. 11. G. GOVI observes on this
passage: “_Forse aveva egli pensato ancora a farsi un erbario, od
almeno a riprodurre facilmente su carta le forme e i particolari
delle foglie di diverse piante; poiche (modificando un metodo che
probabilmente gli eia stato insegnato da altri, e che piu tardi si
legge ripetuto in molti ricettarii e libri di segreti), accanto a
una foglia di Salvia impressa in nero su carta bianca, lascio
scritto: Questa carta …

Erano i primi tentativi di quella riproduzione immediata delle parti
vegetali, che poi sotto il nome d’Impressione Naturale, fu condotta
a tanta perfezione in questi ultimi tempi dal signor de Hauer e da


Very excellent will be a stiff white paper, made of the usual
mixture and filtered milk of an herb called calves foot; and when
this paper is prepared and damped and folded and wrapped up it may
be mixed with the mixture and thus left to dry; but if you break it
before it is moistened it becomes somewhat like the thin paste
called lasagne and you may then damp it and wrap it up and put it
in the mixture and leave it to dry; or again this paper may be
covered with stiff transparent white and sardonio and then damped
so that it may not form angles and then covered up with strong
transparent size and as soon as it is firm cut it two fingers, and
leave it to dry; again you may make stiff cardboard of sardonio
and dry it and then place it between two sheets of papyrus and break
it inside with a wooden mallet with a handle and then open it with
care holding the lower sheet of paper flat and firm so that the
broken pieces be not separated; then have a sheet of paper covered
with hot glue and apply it on the top of all these pieces and let
them stick fast; then turn it upside down and apply transparent size
several times in the spaces between the pieces, each time pouring in
first some black and then some stiff white and each time leaving it
to dry; then smooth it and polish it.

On the preparation and use of colours (618-627).


To make a fine green take green and mix it with bitumen and you will
make the shadows darker. Then, for lighter [shades] green with
yellow ochre, and for still lighter green with yellow, and for the
high lights pure yellow; then mix green and turmeric together and
glaze every thing with it. To make a fine red take cinnabar or red
chalk or burnt ochre for the dark shadows and for the lighter ones
red chalk and vermilion and for the lights pure vermilion and then
glaze with fine lake. To make good oil for painting. One part of
oil, one of the first refining and one of the second.


Use black in the shadow, and in the lights white, yellow, green,
vermilion and lake. Medium shadows; take the shadow as above and mix
it with the flesh tints just alluded to, adding to it a little
yellow and a little green and occasionally some lake; for the
shadows take green and lake for the middle shades.

[Footnote 618 and 619: If we may judge from the flourishes with
which the writing is ornamented these passages must have been
written in Leonardo’s youth.]


You can make a fine ochre by the same method as you use to make



Dissolve realgar with one part of orpiment, with aqua fortis.


Put the white into an earthen pot, and lay it no thicker than a
string, and let it stand in the sun undisturbed for 2 days; and in
the morning when the sun has dried off the night dews.


To make reddish black for flesh tints take red rock crystals from
Rocca Nova or garnets and mix them a little; again armenian bole is
good in part.


The shadow will be burnt ,terra-verte’.



If one ounce of black mixed with one ounce of white gives a certain
shade of darkness, what shade of darkness will be produced by 2
ounces of black to 1 ounce of white?


Remix black, greenish yellow and at the end blue.


Verdigris with aloes, or gall or turmeric makes a fine green and so
it does with saffron or burnt orpiment; but I doubt whether in a
short time they will not turn black. Ultramarine blue and glass
yellow mixed together make a beautiful green for fresco, that is
wall-painting. Lac and verdigris make a good shadow for blue in oil


Grind verdigris many times coloured with lemon juice and keep it
away from yellow (?).

Of preparing the panel.



The panel should be cypress or pear or service-tree or walnut. You
must coat it over with mastic and turpentine twice distilled and
white or, if you like, lime, and put it in a frame so that it may
expand and shrink according to its moisture and dryness. Then give
it [a coat] of aqua vitae in which you have dissolved arsenic or
[corrosive] sublimate, 2 or 3 times. Then apply boiled linseed oil
in such a way as that it may penetrate every part, and before it is
cold rub it well with a cloth to dry it. Over this apply liquid
varnish and white with a stick, then wash it with urine when it is
dry, and dry it again. Then pounce and outline your drawing finely
and over it lay a priming of 30 parts of verdigris with one of
verdigris with two of yellow.

[Footnote: M. RAVAISSON’S reading varies from mine in the following

1.opero allor [?] bo [alloro?] = “ou bien de [laurier].”

  1. fregalo bene con un panno. He reads pane for panno and
    renders it. “Frotte le bien avec un pain de facon [jusqu’a ce]
    ” etc.

  2. colla stecca po laua. He reads “polacca” = “avec le couteau
    de bois [?] polonais [?]

The preparation of oils (629–634).



Make some oil of mustard seed; and if you wish to make it with
greater ease mix the ground seeds with linseed oil and put it all
under the press.



Take the rank oil and put ten pints into a jar and make a mark on
the jar at the height of the oil; then add to it a pint of vinegar
and make it boil till the oil has sunk to the level of the mark and
thus you will be certain that the oil is returned to its original
quantity and the vinegar will have gone off in vapour, carrying with
it the evil smell; and I believe you may do the same with nut oil or
any other oil that smells badly.


Since walnuts are enveloped in a thin rind, which partakes of the
nature of …, if you do not remove it when you make the oil from
them, this skin tinges the oil, and when you work with it this skin
separates from the oil and rises to the surface of the painting, and
this is what makes it change.



If you want to restore oil colours that have become dry keep them
soaking in soft soap for a night and, with your finger, mix them up
with the soft soap; then pour them into a cup and wash them with
water, and in this way you can restore colours that have got dry.
But take care that each colour has its own vessel to itself adding
the colour by degrees as you restore it and mind that they are
thoroughly softened, and when you wish to use them for tempera wash
them five and six times with spring water, and leave them to settle;
if the soft soap should be thick with any of the colours pass it
through a filter. [Footnote: The same remark applies to these
sections as to No. 618 and 619.]



Mustard seed pounded with linseed oil.


… outside the bowl 2 fingers lower than the level of the oil, and
pass it into the neck of a bottle and let it stand and thus all the
oil will separate from this milky liquid; it will enter the bottle
and be as clear as crystal; and grind your colours with this, and
every coarse or viscid part will remain in the liquid. You must know
that all the oils that have been created in seads or fruits are
quite clear by nature, and the yellow colour you see in them only
comes of your not knowing how to draw it out. Fire or heat by its
nature has the power to make them acquire colour. See for example
the exudation or gums of trees which partake of the nature of rosin;
in a short time they harden because there is more heat in them than
in oil; and after some time they acquire a certain yellow hue
tending to black. But oil, not having so much heat does not do so;
although it hardens to some extent into sediment it becomes finer.
The change in oil which occurs in painting proceeds from a certain
fungus of the nature of a husk which exists in the skin which covers
the nut, and this being crushed along with the nuts and being of a
nature much resembling oil mixes with it; it is of so subtle a
nature that it combines with all colours and then comes to the
surface, and this it is which makes them change. And if you want the
oil to be good and not to thicken, put into it a little camphor
melted over a slow fire and mix it well with the oil and it will
never harden.

[Footnote: The same remark applies to these sections as to No. 618
and 619.]

On varnishes [or powders] (635-637).



Take cypress [oil] and distil it and have a large pitcher, and put
in the extract with so much water as may make it appear like amber,
and cover it tightly so that none may evaporate. And when it is
dissolved you may add in your pitcher as much of the said solution,
as shall make it liquid to your taste. And you must know that amber
is the gum of the cypress-tree.


And since varnish [powder] is the resin of juniper, if you distil
juniper you can dissolve the said varnish [powder] in the essence,
as explained above.



Notch a juniper tree and give it water at the roots, mix the liquor
which exudes with nut-oil and you will have a perfect varnish
[powder], made like amber varnish [powder], fine and of the best
quality make it in May or April.



Mercury with Jupiter and Venus,–a paste made of these must be
corrected by the mould (?) continuously, until Mercury separates
itself entirely from Jupiter and Venus. [Footnote: Here, and in No.
641 Mercurio seems to mean quicksilver, Giove stands for iron,
Venere for copper and Saturno for lead.]

On chemical materials (638-650).


Note how aqua vitae absorbs into itself all the colours and smells
of flowers. If you want to make blue put iris flowers into it and
for red solanum berries (?)


Salt may be made from human excrement burnt and calcined and made
into lees, and dried by a slow fire, and all dung in like manner
yields salt, and these salts when distilled are very pungent.


Sea water filtered through mud or clay, leaves all its saltness in
it. Woollen stuffs placed on board ship absorb fresh water. If sea
water is distilled under a retort it becomes of the first excellence
and any one who has a little stove in his kitchen can, with the same
wood as he cooks with, distil a great quantity of water if the
retort is a large one.



The mould (?) may be of Venus, or of Jupiter and Saturn and placed
frequently in the fire. And it should be worked with fine emery and
the mould (?) should be of Venus and Jupiter impasted over (?)
Venus. But first you will test Venus and Mercury mixed with Jove,
and take means to cause Mercury to disperse; and then fold them well
together so that Venus or Jupiter be connected as thinly as

[Footnote: See the note to 637.]


Nitre, vitriol, cinnabar, alum, salt ammoniac, sublimated mercury,
rock salt, alcali salt, common salt, rock alum, alum schist (?),
arsenic, sublimate, realgar, tartar, orpiment, verdegris.


Pitch four ounces virgin wax, four ounces incense, two ounces oil of
roses one ounce.


Four ounces virgin wax, four ounces Greek pitch, two ounces incense,
one ounce oil of roses, first melt the wax and oil then the Greek
pitch then the other things in powder.


Very thin glass may be cut with scissors and when placed over inlaid
work of bone, gilt, or stained of other colours you can saw it
through together with the bone and then put it together and it will
retain a lustre that will not be scratched nor worn away by rubbing
with the hand.



Powder gall nuts and let this stand 8 days in the white wine; and in
the same way dissolve vitriol in water, and let the water stand and
settle very clear, and the wine likewise, each by itself, and strain
them well; and when you dilute the white wine with the water the
wine will become red.


Put marcasite into aqua fortis and if it turns green, know that it
has copper in it. Take it out with saltpetre and soft soap.


A white horse may have the spots removed with the Spanish haematite
or with aqua fortis or with … Removes the black hair on a white
horse with the singeing iron. Force him to the ground.



If you want to make a fire which will set a hall in a blaze without
injury do this: first perfume the hall with a dense smoke of incense
or some other odoriferous substance: It is a good trick to play. Or
boil ten pounds of brandy to evaporate, but see that the hall is
completely closed and throw up some powdered varnish among the fumes
and this powder will be supported by the smoke; then go into the
room suddenly with a lighted torch and at once it will be in a



Take away that yellow surface which covers oranges and distill them
in an alembic, until the distillation may be said to be perfect.


Close a room tightly and have a brasier of brass or iron with fire
in it and sprinkle on it two pints of aqua vitae, a little at a
time, so that it may be converted into smoke. Then make some one
come in with a light and suddenly you will see the room in a blaze
like a flash of lightning, and it will do no harm to any one.



The relation of art and nature (651. 652).


What is fair in men, passes away, but not so in art.



If you condemn painting, which is the only imitator of all visible
works of nature, you will certainly despise a subtle invention which
brings philosophy and subtle speculation to the consideration of the
nature of all forms–seas and plains, trees, animals, plants and
flowers–which are surrounded by shade and light. And this is true
knowledge and the legitimate issue of nature; for painting is born
of nature–or, to speak more correctly, we will say it is the
grandchild of nature; for all visible things are produced by nature,
and these her children have given birth to painting. Hence we may
justly call it the grandchild of nature and related to God.

Painting is superior to poetry (653. 654).



The eye, which is called the window of the soul, is the principal
means by which the central sense can most completely and abundantly
appreciate the infinite works of nature; and the ear is the second,
which acquires dignity by hearing of the things the eye has seen. If
you, historians, or poets, or mathematicians had not seen things
with your eyes you could not report of them in writing. And if you,
0 poet, tell a story with your pen, the painter with his brush can
tell it more easily, with simpler completeness and less tedious to
be understood. And if you call painting dumb poetry, the painter may
call poetry blind painting. Now which is the worse defect? to be
blind or dumb? Though the poet is as free as the painter in the
invention of his fictions they are not so satisfactory to men as
paintings; for, though poetry is able to describe forms, actions and
places in words, the painter deals with the actual similitude of the
forms, in order to represent them. Now tell me which is the nearer
to the actual man: the name of man or the image of the man. The name
of man differs in different countries, but his form is never changed
but by death.


And if the poet gratifies the sense by means of the ear, the painter
does so by the eye–the worthier sense; but I will say no more of
this but that, if a good painter represents the fury of a battle,
and if a poet describes one, and they are both together put before
the public, you will see where most of the spectators will stop, to
which they will pay most attention, on which they will bestow most
praise, and which will satisfy them best. Undoubtedly painting being
by a long way the more intelligible and beautiful, will please most.
Write up the name of God [Christ] in some spot and setup His image
opposite and you will see which will be most reverenced. Painting
comprehends in itself all the forms of nature, while you have
nothing but words, which are not universal as form is, and if you
have the effects of the representation, we have the representation
of the effects. Take a poet who describes the beauty of a lady to
her lover and a painter who represents her and you will see to which
nature guides the enamoured critic. Certainly the proof should be
allowed to rest on the verdict of experience. You have ranked
painting among the mechanical arts but, in truth, if painters were
as apt at praising their own works in writing as you are, it would
not lie under the stigma of so base a name. If you call it
mechanical because it is, in the first place, manual, and that it is
the hand which produces what is to be found in the imagination, you
too writers, who set down manually with the pen what is devised in
your mind. And if you say it is mechanical because it is done for
money, who falls into this error–if error it can be called–more
than you? If you lecture in the schools do you not go to whoever
pays you most? Do you do any work without pay? Still, I do not say
this as blaming such views, for every form of labour looks for its
reward. And if a poet should say: “I will invent a fiction with a
great purpose,” the painter can do the same, as Apelles painted
Calumny. If you were to say that poetry is more eternal, I say the
works of a coppersmith are more eternal still, for time preserves
them longer than your works or ours; nevertheless they have not much
imagination [29]. And a picture, if painted on copper with enamel
colours may be yet more permanent. We, by our arts may be called the
grandsons of God. If poetry deals with moral philosophy, painting
deals with natural philosophy. Poetry describes the action of the
mind, painting considers what the mind may effect by the motions [of
the body]. If poetry can terrify people by hideous fictions,
painting can do as much by depicting the same things in action.
Supposing that a poet applies himself to represent beauty, ferocity,
or a base, a foul or a monstrous thing, as against a painter, he may
in his ways bring forth a variety of forms; but will the painter not
satisfy more? are there not pictures to be seen, so like the actual
things, that they deceive men and animals?

Painting is superior to sculpture (655. 656).



I myself, having exercised myself no less in sculpture than in
painting and doing both one and the other in the same degree, it
seems to me that I can, without invidiousness, pronounce an opinion
as to which of the two is of the greatest merit and difficulty and
perfection. In the first place sculpture requires a certain light,
that is from above, a picture carries everywhere with it its own
light and shade. Thus sculpture owes its importance to light and
shade, and the sculptor is aided in this by the nature, of the
relief which is inherent in it, while the painter whose art
expresses the accidental aspects of nature, places his effects in
the spots where nature must necessarily produce them. The sculptor
cannot diversify his work by the various natural colours of objects;
painting is not defective in any particular. The sculptor when he
uses perspective cannot make it in any way appear true; that of the
painter can appear like a hundred miles beyond the picture itself.
Their works have no aerial perspective whatever, they cannot
represent transparent bodies, they cannot represent luminous bodies,
nor reflected lights, nor lustrous bodies–as mirrors and the like
polished surfaces, nor mists, nor dark skies, nor an infinite number
of things which need not be told for fear of tedium. As regards the
power of resisting time, though they have this resistance [Footnote
19: From what is here said as to painting on copper it is very
evident that Leonardo was not acquainted with the method of painting
in oil on thin copper plates, introduced by the Flemish painters of
the XVIIth century. J. LERMOLIEFF has already pointed out that in
the various collections containing pictures by the great masters of
the Italian Renaissance, those painted on copper (for instance the
famous reading Magdalen in the Dresden Gallery) are the works of a
much later date (see Zeitschrift fur bildende Kunst. Vol. X pg.
333, and: Werke italienischer Master in den Galerien von Munchen,
Dresden und Berlin
. Leipzig 1880, pg. 158 and 159.)–Compare No.
654, 29.], a picture painted on thick copper covered with white
enamel on which it is painted with enamel colours and then put into
the fire again and baked, far exceeds sculpture in permanence. It
may be said that if a mistake is made it is not easy to remedy it;
it is but a poor argument to try to prove that a work be the nobler
because oversights are irremediable; I should rather say that it
will be more difficult to improve the mind of the master who makes
such mistakes than to repair the work he has spoilt.


We know very well that a really experienced and good painter will
not make such mistakes; on the contrary, with sound rules he will
remove so little at a time that he will bring his work to a good
issue. Again the sculptor if working in clay or wax, can add or
reduce, and when his model is finished it can easily be cast in
bronze, and this is the last operation and is the most permanent
form of sculpture. Inasmuch as that which is merely of marble is
liable to ruin, but not bronze. Hence a painting done on copper
which as I said of painting may be added to or altered, resembles
sculpture in bronze, which, having first been made in wax could then
be altered or added to; and if sculpture in bronze is durable, this
work in copper and enamel is absolutely imperishable. Bronze is but
dark and rough after all, but this latter is covered with various
and lovely colours in infinite variety, as has been said above; or
if you will have me only speak of painting on panel, I am content to
pronounce between it and sculpture; saying that painting is the more
beautiful and the more imaginative and the more copious, while
sculpture is the more durable but it has nothing else. Sculpture
shows with little labour what in painting appears a miraculous thing
to do; to make what is impalpable appear palpable, flat objects
appear in relief, distant objects seem close. In fact painting is
adorned with infinite possibilities which sculpture cannot command.

Aphorisms (657-659).



Men and words are ready made, and you, O Painter, if you do not know
how to make your figures move, are like an orator who knows not how
to use his words.


As soon as the poet ceases to represent in words what exists in
nature, he in fact ceases to resemble the painter; for if the poet,
leaving such representation, proceeds to describe the flowery and
flattering speech of the figure, which he wishes to make the
speaker, he then is an orator and no longer a poet nor a painter.
And if he speaks of the heavens he becomes an astrologer, and
philosopher; and a theologian, if he discourses of nature or God.
But, if he restricts himself to the description of objects, he would
enter the lists against the painter, if with words he could satisfy
the eye as the painter does.


Though you may be able to tell or write the exact description of
forms, the painter can so depict them that they will appear alive,
with the shadow and light which show the expression of a face; which
you cannot accomplish with the pen though it can be achieved by the

On the history of painting (660. 661).



Hence the painter will produce pictures of small merit if he takes
for his standard the pictures of others. But if he will study from
natural objects he will bear good fruit; as was seen in the painters
after the Romans who always imitated each other and so their art
constantly declined from age to age. After these came Giotto the
Florentine who–not content with imitating the works of Cimabue his
master–being born in the mountains and in a solitude inhabited only
by goats and such beasts, and being guided by nature to his art,
began by drawing on the rocks the movements of the goats of which he
was keeper. And thus he began to draw all the animals which were to
be found in the country, and in such wise that after much study he
excelled not only all the masters of his time but all those of many
bygone ages. Afterwards this art declined again, because everyone
imitated the pictures that were already done; thus it went on from
century to century until Tomaso, of Florence, nicknamed Masaccio,
showed by his perfect works how those who take for their standard
any one but nature–the mistress of all masters–weary themselves in
vain. And, I would say about these mathematical studies that those
who only study the authorities and not the works of nature are
descendants but not sons of nature the mistress of all good authors.
Oh! how great is the folly of those who blame those who learn from
nature [Footnote 22: lasciando stare li autori. In this
observation we may detect an indirect evidence that Leonardo
regarded his knowledge of natural history as derived from his own
investigations, as well as his theories of perspective and optics.
Compare what he says in praise of experience (Vol II; XIX).],
setting aside those authorities who themselves were the disciples of


That the first drawing was a simple line drawn round the shadow of a
man cast by the sun on a wall.

The painter’s scope.


The painter strives and competes with nature.


Studies and Sketches for Pictures and Decorations.

An artist’s manuscript notes can hardly be expected to contain any
thing more than incidental references to those masterpieces of his
work of which the fame, sounded in the writings of his
contemporaries, has left a glorious echo to posterity. We need not
therefore be surprised to find that the texts here reproduced do not
afford us such comprehensive information as we could wish. On the
other hand, the sketches and studies prepared by Leonardo for the
two grandest compositions he ever executed: The Fresco of the Last
Supper in the Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie at Milan, and
the Cartoon of the Battle of Anghiari, for the Palazzo della
Signoria at Florence–have been preserved; and, though far from
complete, are so much more numerous than the manuscript notes, that
we are justified in asserting that in value and interest they amply
compensate for the meagerness of the written suggestions.

The notes for the composition of the Last Supper, which are given
under nos._ 665 and 666 occur in a MS. at South Kensington, II2,
written in the years
1494-1495. This MS. sketch was noted down not
more than three or four years before the painting was executed,
which justifies the inference that at the time when it was written
the painter had not made up his mind definitely even as to the
general scheme of the work; and from this we may also conclude that
the drawings of apostles’ heads at Windsor, in red chalk, must be
ascribed to a later date. They are studies for the head of St.
Matthew, the fourth figure on Christ’s left hand–see Pl. XL VII,
the sketch (in black chalk) for the head of St. Philip, the third
figure on the left hand–see Pl. XL VIII, for St. Peter’s right
arm–see Pl. XLIX, and for the expressive head of Judas which has
unfortunately somewhat suffered by subsequent restoration of
outlines,–see Pl. L. According to a tradition, as unfounded as it
is improbable, Leonardo made use of the head of Padre Bandelli, the
prior of the convent, as the prototype of his Judas; this however
has already been contradicted by Amoretti “Memorie storiche” cap.
XIV. The study of the head of a criminal on Pl. LI has, it seems to
me, a better claim to be regarded as one of the preparatory sketches
for the head of Judas. The Windsor collection contains two old
copies of the head of St. Simon, the figure to the extreme left of
Christ, both of about equal merit (they are marked as Nos.
21 and
36_)–the second was reproduced on Pl. VIII of the Grosvenor
Gallery Publication in_ 1878. There is also at Windsor a drawing in
black chalk of folded hands (marked with the old No.
212; _No. LXI
of the Grosvenor Gallery Publication) which I believe to be a copy
of the hands of St. John, by some unknown pupil. A reproduction of
the excellent drawings of heads of Apostles in the possession of H.
R. H. the Grand Duchess of Weimar would have been out of my province
in this work, and, with regard to them, I must confine myself to
pointing out that the difference in style does not allow of our
placing the Weimar drawings in the same category as those here
reproduced. The mode of grouping in the Weimar drawings is of itself
sufficient to indicate that they were not executed before the
picture was painted, but, on the contrary, afterwards, and it is, on
the face of it, incredible that so great a master should thus have
copied from his own work.

The drawing of Christ’s head, in the Brera palace at Milan was
perhaps originally the work of Leonardo’s hand; it has unfortunately
been entirely retouched and re-drawn, so that no decisive opinion
can be formed as to its genuineness.

The red chalk drawing reproduced on Pl. XLVI is in the Accademia at
Venice; it was probably made before the text, Nos._ 664 and 665,
_was written.

The two pen and ink sketches on Pl. XLV seem to belong to an even
earlier date; the more finished drawing of the two, on the right
hand, represents Christ with only St. John and Judas and a third
disciple whose action is precisely that described in No._ 666,
Pl. 4. It is hardly necessary to observe that the other sketches
on this page and the lines of text below the circle (containing the
solution of a geometrical problem) have no reference to the picture
of the Last Supper. With this figure of Christ may be compared a
similar pen and ink drawing reproduced on page
297 below on the
left hand; the original is in the Louvre. On this page again the
rest of the sketches have no direct bearing on the composition of
the Last Supper, not even, as it seems to me, the group of four men
at the bottom to the right hand–who are listening to a fifth, in
their midst addressing them. Moreover the writing on this page (an
explanation of a disk shaped instrument) is certainly not in the
same style as we find constantly used by Leonardo after the year


_It may be incidentally remarked that no sketches are known for the
portrait of “Mona Lisa”, nor do the MS. notes ever allude to it,
though according to Vasari the master had it in hand for fully four

Leonardo’s cartoon for the picture of the battle of Anghiari has
shared the fate of the rival work, Michaelangelo’s “Bathers summoned
to Battle”. Both have been lost in some wholly inexplicable manner.
I cannot here enter into the remarkable history of this work; I can
only give an account of what has been preserved to us of Leonardo’s
scheme and preparations for executing it. The extent of the material
in studies and drawings was till now quite unknown. Their
publication here may give some adequate idea of the grandeur of this
famous work. The text given as No._ 669 _contains a description of
the particulars of the battle, but for the reasons given in the note
to this text, I must abandon the idea of taking this passage as the
basis of my attempt to reconstruct the picture as the artist
conceived and executed it.

I may here remind the reader that Leonardo prepared the cartoon in
the Sala del Papa of Santa Maria Novella at Florence and worked
there from the end of October 1503 till February 1504, and then was
busied with the painting in the Sala del Consiglio in the Palazzo
della Signoria, till the work was interrupted at the end of May
1506. (See Milanesi’s note to Vasari pp. 43–45 Vol. IV ed. 1880.)
Vasari, as is well known, describes only one scene or episode of the
cartoon–the Battle for the Standard in the foreground of the
composition, as it would seem; and this only was ever finished as a
mural decoration in the Sala del Consiglio. This portion of the
composition is familiar to all from the disfigured copy engraved by
Edelinck. Mariette had already very acutely observed that Edelinck
must surely have worked from a Flemish copy of the picture. There is
in the Louvre a drawing by Rubens (No. 565) which also represents
four horsemen fighting round a standard and which agrees with
Edelinck’s engraving, but the engraving reverses the drawing. An
earlier Flemish drawing, such as may have served as the model for
both Rubens and Edelinck, is in the Uffizi collection (see
Philpots’s Photograph, No. 732). It seems to be a work of the second
half of the XVIth century, a time when both the picture and the
cartoon had already been destroyed. It is apparently the production
of a not very skilled hand. Raphael Trichet du Fresne, 1651,
mentions that a small picture by Leonardo himself of the Battle of
the Standard was then extant in the Tuileries; by this he probably
means the painting on panel which is now in the possession of Madame
Timbal in Paris, and which has lately been engraved by Haussoullier
as a work by Leonardo. The picture, which is very carefully painted,
seems to me however to be the work of some unknown Florentine
painter, and probably executed within the first ten years of the
XVIth century. At the same time, it would seem to be a copy not from
Leonardo’s cartoon, but from his picture in the Palazzo della
Signoria; at any rate this little picture, and the small Flemish
drawing in Florence are the oldest finished copies of this episode
in the great composition of the Battle of Anghiari.

In his Life of Raphael, Vasari tells us that Raphael copied certain
works of Leonardo’s during his stay in Florence. Raphael’s first
visit to Florence lasted from the middle of October 1504 till July
1505, and he revisited it in the summer of 1506. The hasty sketch,
now in the possession of the University of Oxford and reproduced on
page 337 also represents the Battle of the Standard and seems to
have been made during his first stay, and therefore not from the
fresco but from the cartoon; for, on the same sheet we also find,
besides an old man’s head drawn in Leonardo’s style, some studies
for the figure of St. John the Martyr which Raphael used in 1505 in
his great fresco in the Church of San Severo at Perugia.

Of Leonardo’s studies for the Battle of Anghiari I must in the first
place point to five, on three of which–Pl. LII 2, Pl. LIII, Pl.
LVI–we find studies for the episode of the Standard. The standard
bearer, who, in the above named copies is seen stooping, holding on
to the staff across his shoulder, is immediately recognisable as the
left-hand figure in Raphael’s sketch, and we find it in a similar
attitude in Leonardo’s pen and ink drawing in the British
Museum–Pl. LII, 2–the lower figure to the right. It is not
difficult to identify the same figure in two more complicated groups
in the pen and ink drawings, now in the Accademia at Venice–Pl.
LIII, and Pl. LIV–where we also find some studies of foot soldiers
fighting. On the sheet in the British Museum–Pl. LII, 2–we find,
among others, one group of three horses galloping forwards: one
horseman is thrown and protects himself with his buckler against the
lance thrusts of two others on horseback, who try to pierce him as
they ride past. The same action is repeated, with some variation, in
two sketches in pen and ink on a third sheet, in the Accademia at
Venice, Pl. LV; a coincidence which suggests the probability of such
an incident having actually been represented on the cartoon. We are
not, it is true, in a position to declare with any certainty which
of these three dissimilar sketches may have been the nearest to the
group finally adopted in executing the cartoon.

With regard, however, to one of the groups of horsemen it is
possible to determine with perfect certainty not only which
arrangement was preferred, but the position it occupied in the
composition. The group of horsemen on Pl. LVII is a drawing in black
chalk at Windsor, which is there attributed to Leonardo, but which
appears to me to be the work of Cesare da Sesto, and the
Commendatore Giov. Morelli supports me in this view. It can hardly
be doubted that da Sesto, as a pupil of Leonardo’s, made this
drawing from his master’s cartoon, if we compare it with the copy
made by Raphael–here reproduced, for just above the fighting
horseman in Raphael’s copy it is possible to detect a horse which is
seen from behind, going at a slower pace, with his tail flying out
to the right and the same horse may be seen in the very same
attitude carrying a dimly sketched rider, in the foreground of
Cesare da Sesto’s drawing._

If a very much rubbed drawing in black chalk at Windsor–Pl.
LVI–is, as it appears to be, the reversed impression of an original
drawing, it is not difficult to supplement from it the portions
drawn by Cesare da Sesto. Nay, it may prove possible to reconstruct
the whole of the lost cartoon from the mass of materials we now have
at hand which we may regard as the nucleus of the composition. A
large pen and ink drawing by Raphael in the Dresden collection,
representing three horsemen fighting, and another, by Cesare da
Sesto, in the Uffizi, of light horsemen fighting are a further
contribution which will help us to reconstruct it.

The sketch reproduced on Pl. LV gives a suggestive example of the
way in which foot-soldiers may have been introduced into the cartoon
as fighting among the groups of horsemen; and I may here take the
opportunity of mentioning that, for reasons which it would be out of
place to enlarge upon here, I believe the two genuine drawings by
Raphael’s hand in his “Venetian sketch-book” as it is called–one of
a standard bearer marching towards the left, and one of two
foot-soldiers armed with spears and fighting with a horseman–to be
undoubtedly copies from the cartoon of the Battle of Anghiari.

Leonardo’s two drawings, preserved in the museum at Buda-Pesth and
reproduced on pages 338 and 339 are preliminary studies for the
heads of fighting warriors. The two heads drawn in black chalk (pg.
338) and the one seen in profile, turned to the left, drawn in red
chalk (pg. 339), correspond exactly with those of two horsemen in
the scene of the fight round the standard as we see them in Madame
Timbal’s picture and in the other finished copies. An old copy of
the last named drawing by a pupil of Leonardo is in MS. C. A. 187b;
561b (See Saggio, Tav. XXII). Leonardo used to make such finished
studies of heads as those, drawn on detached sheets, before
beginning his pictures from his drawings–compare the preparatory
studies for the fresco of the Last Supper, given on Pl. XLVII and
Pl. L. Other drawings of heads, all characterised by the expression
of vehement excitement that is appropriate to men fighting, are to
be seen at Windsor (No. 44) and at the Accademia at Venice (IV, 13);
at the back of one of the drawings at Buda-Pesth there is the bust
of a warrior carrying a spear on his left shoulder, holding up the
left arm (See Csatakepek a XVI–lk Szazadbol osszeallitotta Pvlszky
Karoly). These drawings may have been made for other portions of the
cartoon, of which no copies exist, and thus we are unable to
identify these preparatory drawings. Finally I may add that a sketch
of fighting horse and foot soldiers, formerly in the possession of
M. Thiers and published by Charles Blanc in his “Vies des Peintres”
can hardly be accepted as genuine. It is not to be found, as I am
informed, among the late President’s property, and no one appears to
know where it now is.

An attempted reconstruction of the Cartoon, which is not only
unsuccessful but perfectly unfounded, is to be seen in the
lithograph by Bergeret, published in Charles Blanc’s “Vies des
peintres” and reprinted in “The great Artists. L. da Vinci”, p. 80.
This misleading pasticcio may now be rejected without hesitation.

There are yet a few original drawings by Leonardo which might be
mentioned here as possibly belonging to the cartoon of the Battle;
such as the pen and ink sketches on Pl. XXI and on Pl. XXXVIII, No.
3, but we should risk too wide a departure from the domain of
ascertained fact.

With regard to the colours and other materials used by Leonardo the
reader may be referred to the quotations from the accounts for the
picture in question given by Milanesi in his edition of Vasari (Vol.
IV, p. 44, note) where we find entries of a similar character to
those in Leonardo’s note books for the year 1505; S. K. M. 12 (see
No. 636).

That Leonardo was employed in designing decorations and other
preparations for high festivals, particularly for the court of
Milan, we learn not only from the writings of his contemporaries but
from his own incidental allusions; for instance in MS. C. l5b (1),
l. 9. In the arrangement of the texts referring to this I have
placed those first, in which historical personages are named–Nos.
670-674. Among the descriptions of Allegorical subjects two texts
lately found at Oxford have been included, Nos. 676 and 677. They
are particularly interesting because they are accompanied by large
sketches which render the meaning of the texts perfectly clear. It
is very intelligible that in other cases, where there are no
illustrative sketches, the notes must necessarily remain obscure or
admit of various interpretations. The literature of the time affords
ample evidence of the use of such allegorical representations,
particularly during the Carnival and in Leonardo’s notes we find the
Carnival expressly mentioned–Nos. 685 and 704. Vasari in his Life
of Pontormo, particularly describes that artist’s various
undertakings for Carnival festivities. These very graphic
descriptions appear to me to throw great light in more ways than one
on the meaning of Leonardo’s various notes as to allegorical
representations and also on mottoes and emblems–Nos. 681-702. In
passing judgment on the allegorical sketches and emblems it must not
be overlooked that even as pictures they were always accompanied by
explanations in words. Several finished drawings of allegorical
compositions or figures have been preserved, but as they have no
corresponding explanation in the MSS. they had no claim to be
reproduced here. The female figure on Pl. XXVI may perhaps be
regarded as a study for such an allegorical painting, of which the
purport would have been explained by an inscription.

On Madonna pictures.


[In the autumn of] 1478 I began the two Madonna [pictures].

[Footnote: Photographs of this page have been published by BRAUN,
No. 439, and PHILPOT, No. 718.

  1. Incominciai. We have no other information as to the two
    pictures of the Madonna here spoken of. As Leonardo here tells us
    that he had begun two Madonnas at the same time, the word
    incominciai‘ may be understood to mean that he had begun at the
    same time preparatory studies for two pictures to be painted later.
    If this is so, the non-existence of the pictures may be explained by
    supposing that they were only planned and never executed. I may here
    mention a few studies for pictures of the Madonna which probably
    belong to this early time; particularly a drawing in silver-point on
    bluish tinted paper at Windsor–see Pl. XL, No. 3–, a drawing of
    which the details have almost disappeared in the original but have
    been rendered quite distinct in the reproduction; secondly a slight
    pen and ink sketch in, the Codex VALLARDI, in the Louvre, fol. 64,
    No. 2316; again a silver point drawing of a Virgin and child drawn
    over again with the pen in the His de la Salle collection also in
    the Louvre, No. 101. (See Vicomte BOTH DE TAUZIA, Notice des
    dessins de la collection His de la Salle, exposes au Louvre
    . Paris
    1881, pp. 80, 81.) This drawing is, it is true, traditionally
    ascribed to Raphael, but the author of the catalogue very justly
    points out its great resemblance with the sketches for Madonnas in
    the British Museum which are indisputably Leonardo’s. Some of these
    have been published by Mr. HENRY WALLIS in the Art Journal, New Ser.
    No. 14, Feb. 1882. If the non-existence of the two pictures here
    alluded to justifies my hypothesis that only studies for such
    pictures are meant by the text, it may also be supposed that the
    drawings were made for some comrade in VERROCCHIO’S atelier. (See
    VASARI, Sansoni’s ed. Florence 1880. Vol. IV, p. 564): “E perche a
    Lerenzo piaceva fuor di modo la maniera di Lionardo, la seppe cosi
    bene imitare, che niuno fu che nella pulitezza e nel finir l’opere
    con diligenza l’imitasse più di lui
    .” Leonardo’s notes give me no
    opportunity of discussing the pictures executed by him in Florence,
    before he moved to Milan. So the studies for the unfinished picture
    of the Adoration of the Magi–in the Uffizi, Florence–cannot be
    described here, nor would any discussion about the picture in the
    Louvre “La Vierge aux Rochers” be appropriate in the absence of
    all allusion to it in the MSS. Therefore, when I presently add a few
    remarks on this painting in explanation of the Master’s drawings for
    it, it will be not merely with a view to facilitate critical
    researches about the picture now in the National Gallery, London,
    which by some critics has been pronounced to be a replica of the
    Louvre picture, but also because I take this opportunity of
    publishing several finished studies of the Master’s which, even if
    they were not made in Florence but later in Milan, must have been
    prior to the painting of the Last Supper. The original picture in
    Paris is at present so disfigured by dust and varnish that the
    current reproductions in photography actually give evidence more of
    the injuries to which the picture has been exposed than of the
    original work itself. The wood-cut given on p. 344, is only intended
    to give a general notion of the composition. It must be understood
    that the outline and expression of the heads, which in the picture
    is obscured but not destroyed, is here altogether missed. The
    facsimiles which follow are from drawings which appear to me to be
    studies for “La Vierge aux Rochers.”

  2. A drawing in silver point on brown toned paper of a woman’s head
    looking to the left. In the Royal Library at Turin, apparently a
    study from nature for the Angel’s head (Pl. XLII).

  3. A study of drapery for the left leg of the same figure, done with
    the brush, Indian ink on greenish paper, the lights heightened with

The original is at Windsor, No. 223. The reproduction Pl. XLIII is
defective in the shadow on the upper part of the thigh, which is not
so deep as in the original; it should also be observed that the
folds of the drapery near the hips are somewhat altered in the
finished work in the Louvre, while the London copy shows a greater
resemblance to this study in that particular.

  1. A study in red chalk for the bust of the Infant Christ–No. 3 in
    the Windsor collection (Pl. XLIV). The well-known silver-point
    drawing on pale green paper, in the Louvre, of a boy’s head (No. 363
    in REISET, Notice des dessins, Ecoles d’Italie) seems to me to be
    a slightly altered copy, either from the original picture or from
    this red chalk study.

  2. A silver-point study on greenish paper, for the head of John the
    Baptist, reproduced on p. 342. This was formerly in the Codex
    Vallardi and is now exhibited among the drawings in the Louvre. The
    lights are, in the original, heightened with white; the outlines,
    particularly round the head and ear, are visibly restored.

There is a study of an outstretched hand–No. 288 in the Windsor
collection–which was published in the Grosvenor Gallery
Publication, 1878, simply under the title of: “No. 72 Study of a
hand, pointing” which, on the other hand, I regard as a copy by a
pupil. The action occurs in the kneeling angel of the Paris picture
and not in the London copy.

These four genuine studies form, I believe, a valuable substitute in
the absence of any MS. notes referring to the celebrated Paris

Bernardo di Bandino’s Portrait.


A tan-coloured small cap, A doublet of black serge, A black jerkin
lined A blue coat lined, with fur of foxes’ breasts, and the collar
of the jerkin covered with black and white stippled velvet Bernardo
di Bandino Baroncelli; black hose.

[Footnote: These eleven lines of text are by the side of the pen and
ink drawing of a man hanged–Pl. LXII, No. 1. This drawing was
exhibited in 1879 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the
compilers of the catalogue amused themselves by giving the victim’s
name as follows: “Un pendu, vetu d’une longue robe, les mains liées
sur le dos … Bernardo di Bendino Barontigni, marchand de
” (see Catalogue descriptif des Dessins de Mailres
anciens exposes a l’Ecole des Beaux Arts
, Paris 1879; No. 83, pp.
9-10). Now, the criminal represented here, is none other than
Bernardino di Bandino Baroncelli the murderer of Giuliano de’Medici,
whose name as a coadjutor in the conspiracy of the Pazzi has gained
a melancholy notoriety by the tragedy of the 26th April 1478.
Bernardo was descended from an ancient family and the son of the man
who, under King Ferrante, was President of the High Court of Justice
in Naples. His ruined fortunes, it would seem, induced him to join
the Pazzi; he and Francesco Pazzi were entrusted with the task of
murdering Giuliano de’Medici on the fixed day. Their victim not
appearing in the cathedral at the hour when they expected him, the
two conspirators ran to the palace of the Medici and induced him to
accompany them. Giuliano then took his place in the chancel of the
Cathedral, and as the officiating priest raised the Host–the sign
agreed upon–Bernardo stabbed the unsuspecting Giuliano in the
breast with a short sword; Giuliano stepped backwards and fell dead.
The attempt on Lorenzo’s life however, by the other conspirators at
the same moment, failed of success. Bernardo no sooner saw that
Lorenzo tried to make his escape towards the sacristy, than he
rushed upon him, and struck down Francesco Nori who endeavoured to
protect Lorenzo. How Lorenzo then took refuge behind the brazen
doors of the sacristy, and how, as soon as Giuliano’s death was made
known, the further plans of the conspirators were defeated, while a
terrible vengeance overtook all the perpetrators and accomplices,
this is no place to tell. Bernardo Bandini alone seemed to be
favoured by fortune; he hid first in the tower of the Cathedral, and
then escaped undiscovered from Florence. Poliziano, who was with
Lorenzo in the Cathedral, says in his ‘Conjurationis Pactianae
Commentarium’: “Bandinus fugitans in Tiphernatem incidit, a quo in
aciem receptus Senas pervenit
.” And Gino Capponi in summing up the
reports of the numerous contemporary narrators of the event, says:
Bernardo Bandini ricoverato in Costantinopoli, fu per ordine del
Sultano preso e consegnato a un Antonio di Bernardino dei Medici,
che Lorenzo aveva mandato apposta in Turchia: così era grande la
potenza di quest’ uomo e grande la voglia di farne mostra e che non
restasse in vita chi aveagli ucciso il fratello, fu egli applicato
appena giunto
” (Storia della Republica di Firenze II, 377, 378).
Details about the dates may be found in the Chronichetta di
Belfredello Strinati Alfieri
: “Bernardo di Bandino Bandini
sopradetto ne venne preso da Gostantinopoti a dì 14. Dicembre 1479 e
disaminato, che fu al Bargello, fu impiccato alle finestre di detto
Bargello allato alla Doana a dì 29. Dicembre MCCCCLXXIX che pochi dì
.” It may however be mentioned with reference to the mode of
writing the name of the assassin that, though most of his
contemporaries wrote Bernardo Bandini, in the Breve Chronicon
Caroli Petri de Joanninis
he is called Bernardo di Bandini
Baroncelli; and, in the Sententiae Domini Matthaei de Toscana,
Bernardus Joannis Bandini de Baroncellis, as is written on
Leonardo’s drawing of him when hanged. Now VASARI, in the life of
Andrea del Castagno (Vol. II, 680; ed. Milanesi 1878), tells us
that in 1478 this painter was commissioned by order of the Signoria
to represent the members of the Pazzi conspiracy as traitors, on the
facade of the Palazzo del Podestà–the Bargello. This statement is
obviously founded on a mistake, for Andrea del Castagno was already
dead in 1457. He had however been commissioned to paint Rinaldo
degli Albizzi, when declared a rebel and exiled in 1434, and his
adherents, as hanging head downwards; and in consequence he had
acquired the nickname of Andrea degl’ Impiccati. On the 21st July
1478 the Council of Eight came to the following resolution: “item
servatis etc. deliberaverunt et santiaverunt Sandro Botticelli pro
ejus labore in pingendo proditores flor. quadraginta largos
” (see
G. MILANESI, Arch. star. VI (1862) p. 5 note.)

As has been told, Giuliano de’ Medici was murdered on the 26th April
1478, and we see by this that only three months later Botticelli was
paid for his painting of the “proditores“. We can however hardly
suppose that all the members of the conspiracy were depicted by him
in fresco on the facade of the palace, since no fewer than eighty
had been condemned to death. We have no means of knowing whether,
besides Botticelli, any other painters, perhaps Leonardo, was
commissioned, when the criminals had been hanged in person out of
the windows of the Palazzo del Podestà to represent them there
afterwards in effigy in memory of their disgrace. Nor do we know
whether the assassin who had escaped may at first not have been
provisionally represented as hanged in effigy. Now, when we try to
connect the historical facts with this drawing by Leonardo
reproduced on Pl. LXII, No. I, and the full description of the
conspirator’s dress and its colour on the same sheet, there seems to
be no reasonable doubt that Bernardo Bandini is here represented as
he was actually hanged on December 29th, 1479, after his capture at
Constantinople. The dress is certainly not that in which he
committed the murder. A long furred coat might very well be worn at
Constantinople or at Florence in December, but hardly in April. The
doubt remains whether Leonardo described Bernardo’s dress so fully
because it struck him as remarkable, or whether we may not rather
suppose that this sketch was actually made from nature with the
intention of using it as a study for a wall painting to be executed.
It cannot be denied that the drawing has all the appearance of
having been made for this purpose. Be this as it may, the sketch
under discussion proves, at any rate, that Leonardo was in Florence
in December 1479, and the note that accompanies it is valuable as
adding one more characteristic specimen to the very small number of
his MSS. that can be proved to have been written between 1470 and

Notes on the Last Supper (665-668).


One who was drinking and has left the glass in its position and
turned his head towards the speaker.

Another, twisting the fingers of his hands together turns with stern
brows to his companion [6]. Another with his hands spread open shows
the palms, and shrugs his shoulders up his ears making a mouth of
astonishment [8].

[9] Another speaks into his neighbour’s ear and he, as he listens to
him, turns towards him to lend an ear [10], while he holds a knife
in one hand, and in the other the loaf half cut through by the
knife. [13] Another who has turned, holding a knife in his hand,
upsets with his hand a glass on the table [14].

[Footnote 665, 666: In the original MS. there is no sketch to
accompany these passages, and if we compare them with those drawings
made by Leonardo in preparation for the composition of the
picture–Pl. XLV, XLVI–, (compare also Pl. LII, 1 and the drawings
on p. 297) it is impossible to recognise in them a faithful
interpretation of the whole of this text; but, if we compare these
passages with the finished picture (see p. 334) we shall see that in
many places they coincide. For instance, compare No. 665, 1. 6–8,
with the fourth figure on the right hand of Christ. The various
actions described in lines 9–10, 13–14 are to be seen in the group
of Peter, John and Judas; in the finished picture however it is not
a glass but a salt cellar that Judas is upsetting.]


Another lays his hand on the table and is looking. Another blows his
mouthful. [3] Another leans forward to see the speaker shading his
eyes with his hand. [5] Another draws back behind the one who leans
forward, and sees the speaker between the wall and the man who is
leaning [Footnote: 6. chinato. I have to express my regret for
having misread this word, written cinato in the original, and
having altered it to “ciclo” when I first published this text, in
‘The Academy’ for Nov. 8, 1879 immediately after I had discovered
it, and subsequently in the small biography of Leonardo da Vinci
(Great Artists) p. 29.].

[Footnote: In No. 666. Line I must refer to the furthest figure on
the left; 3, 5 and 6 describe actions which are given to the group
of disciples on the left hand of Christ.]



Count Giovanni, the one with the Cardinal of Mortaro.

[Footnote: As this note is in the same small Manuscript as the
passage here immediately preceding it, I may be justified in
assuming that Leonardo meant to use the features of the person here
named as a suitable model for the figure of Christ. The celebrated
drawing of the head of Christ, now hanging in the Brera Gallery at
Milan, has obviously been so much restored that it is now impossible
to say, whether it was ever genuine. We have only to compare it with
the undoubtedly genuine drawings of heads of the disciples in PI.
XLVII, XLVIII and L, to admit that not a single line of the Milan
drawing in its present state can be by the same hand.]


Philip, Simon, Matthew, Thomas, James the Greater, Peter, Philip,
Andrew, Bartholomew.

[Footnote: See PI. XLVI. The names of the disciples are given in the
order in which they are written in the original, from right to left,
above each head. The original drawing is here slightly reduced in
scale; it measures 39 centimetres in length by 26 in breadth.]


On the battle of Anghiari.
Neri di Gino Capponi
Bernardetto de’ Medici
Niccolo da Pisa
Conte Francesco
Pietro Gian Paolo
Guelfo Orsino,
Messer Rinaldo degli

Begin with the address of Niccolo Piccinino to the soldiers and the
banished Florentines among whom are Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi and
other Florentines. Then let it be shown how he first mounted on
horseback in armour; and the whole army came after him–40 squadrons
of cavalry, and 2000 foot soldiers went with him. Very early in the
morning the Patriarch went up a hill to reconnoitre the country,
that is the hills, fields and the valley watered by a river; and
from thence he beheld Niccolo Picinino coming from Borgo San
Sepolcro with his people, and with a great dust; and perceiving them
he returned to the camp of his own people and addressed them. Having
spoken he prayed to God with clasped hands, when there appeared a
cloud in which Saint Peter appeared and spoke to the Patriarch.–500
cavalry were sent forward by the Patriarch to hinder or check the
rush of the enemy. In the foremost troop Francesco the son of
Niccolo Piccinino [24] was the first to attack the bridge which was
held by the Patriarch and the Florentines. Beyond the bridge to his
left he sent forward some infantry to engage ours, who drove them
back, among whom was their captain Micheletto [29] whose lot it was
to be that day at the head of the army. Here, at this bridge there
is a severe struggle; our men conquer and the enemy is repulsed.
Here Guido and Astorre, his brother, the Lord of Faenza with a great
number of men, re-formed and renewed the fight, and rushed upon the
Florentines with such force that they recovered the bridge and
pushed forward as far as the tents. But Simonetto advanced with 600
horse, and fell upon the enemy and drove them back once more from
the place, and recaptured the bridge; and behind him came more men
with 2000 horse soldiers. And thus for a long time they fought with
varying fortune. But then the Patriarch, in order to divert the
enemy, sent forward Niccolo da Pisa [44] and Napoleone Orsino, a
beardless lad, followed by a great multitude of men, and then was
done another great feat of arms. At the same time Niccolo Piccinino
urged forward the remnant of his men, who once more made ours give
way; and if it had not been that the Patriarch set himself at their
head and, by his words and deeds controlled the captains, our
soldiers would have taken to flight. The Patriarch had some
artillery placed on the hill and with these he dispersed the enemy’s
infantry; and the disorder was so complete that Niccolo began to
call back his son and all his men, and they took to flight towards
Borgo. And then began a great slaughter of men; none escaped but the
foremost of those who had fled or who hid themselves. The battle
continued until sunset, when the Patriarch gave his mind to
recalling his men and burying the dead, and afterwards a trophy was

[Footnote: 669. This passage does not seem to me to be in Leonardo’s
hand, though it has hitherto been generally accepted as genuine. Not
only is the writing unlike his, but the spelling also is quite
different. I would suggest that this passage is a description of the
events of the battle drawn up for the Painter by order of the
Signoria, perhaps by some historian commissioned by them, to serve
as a scheme or programme of the work. The whole tenor of the style
seems to me to argue in favour of this theory; and besides, it would
be in no way surprising that such a document should have been
preserved among Leonardo’s autographs.]

Allegorical representations referring to the duke of Milan


Ermine with blood Galeazzo, between calm weather and a
representation of a tempest.

[Footnote: 670. Only the beginning of this text is legible; the
writing is much effaced and the sense is consequently obscure. It
seems to refer like the following passage to an allegorical


Il Moro with spectacles, and Envy depicted with False Report and
Justice black for il Moro.

Labour as having a branch of vine [or a screw] in her hand.


Il Moro as representing Good Fortune, with hair, and robes, and his
hands in front, and Messer Gualtieri taking him by the robes with a
respectful air from below, having come in from the front [5].

Again, Poverty in a hideous form running behind a youth. Il Moro
covers him with the skirt of his robe, and with his gilt sceptre he
threatens the monster.

A plant with its roots in the air to represent one who is at his
last;–a robe and Favour.

Of tricks [or of magpies] and of burlesque poems [or of

Those who trust themselves to live near him, and who will be a large
crowd, these shall all die cruel deaths; and fathers and mothers
together with their families will be devoured and killed by cruel

[Footnote: 1–10 have already been published by Amoretti in
Memorie Storiche cap. XII. He adds this note with regard to
Gualtieri: “A questo M. Gualtieri come ad uomo generoso e benefico
scrive il Bellincioni un Sonetto (pag, 174) per chiedergli un
piacere; e ‘l Tantio rendendo ragione a Lodovico il Moro, perche
pubblicasse le Rime del Bellincioni; ciò hammi imposto, gli dice:
l’humano fidele, prudente e sollicito executore delli tuoi
comandamenti Gualtero, che fa in tutte le cose ove tu possi far
utile, ogni studio vi metti.
” A somewhat mysterious and evidently
allegorical composition–a pen and ink drawing–at Windsor, see PL
LVIII, contains a group of figures in which perhaps the idea is
worked out which is spoken of in the text, lines 1-5.]


He was blacker than a hornet, his eyes were as red as a burning fire
and he rode on a tall horse six spans across and more than 20 long
with six giants tied up to his saddle-bow and one in his hand which
he gnawed with his teeth. And behind him came boars with tusks
sticking out of their mouths, perhaps ten spans.

Allegorical representations (674–678).


Above the helmet place a half globe, which is to signify our
hemisphere, in the form of a world; on which let there be a peacock,
richly decorated, and with his tail spread over the group; and every
ornament belonging to the horse should be of peacock’s feathers on a
gold ground, to signify the beauty which comes of the grace bestowed
on him who is a good servant.

On the shield a large mirror to signify that he who truly desires
favour must be mirrored in his virtues.

On the opposite side will be represented Fortitude, in like manner
in her place with her pillar in her hand, robed in white, to signify
… And all crowned; and Prudence with 3 eyes. The housing of the
horse should be of plain cloth of gold closely sprinkled with
peacock’s eyes, and this holds good for all the housings of the
horse, and the man’s dress. And the man’s crest and his neck-chain
are of peacock’s feathers on golden ground.

On the left side will be a wheel, the centre of which should be
attached to the centre of the horse’s hinder thigh piece, and in the
centre Prudence is seen robed in red, Charity sitting in a fiery
chariot and with a branch of laurel in her hand, to signify the hope
which comes of good service.

[21] Messer Antonio Grimani of Venice companion of Antonio Maria

[Footnote: Messer Antonio Gri. His name thus abbreviated is, there
can be no doubt, Grimani. Antonio Grimani was the famous Doge who in
1499 commanded the Venetian fleet in battle against the Turks. But
after the abortive conclusion of the expedition–Ludovico being the
ally of the Turks who took possession of Friuli–, Grimani was driven
into exile; he went to live at Rome with his son Cardinal Domenico
Grimani. On being recalled to Venice he filled the office of Doge
from 1521 to 1523. Antonio Maria probably means Antonio Maria
Grimani, the Patriarch of Aquileia.]


Fame should be depicted as covered all over with tongues instead of
feathers, and in the figure of a bird.


Pleasure and Pain represent as twins, since there never is one
without the other; and as if they were united back to back, since
they are contrary to each other.

[6] Clay, gold.

[Footnote: 7. oro. fango: gold, clay. These words stand below the
allegorical figure.]

If you take Pleasure know that he has behind him one who will deal
you Tribulation and Repentance.

[9] This represents Pleasure together with Pain, and show them as
twins because one is never apart from the other. They are back to
back because they are opposed to each other; and they exist as
contraries in the same body, because they have the same basis,
inasmuch as the origin of pleasure is labour and pain, and the
various forms of evil pleasure are the origin of pain. Therefore it
is here represented with a reed in his right hand which is useless
and without strength, and the wounds it inflicts are poisoned. In
Tuscany they are put to support beds, to signify that it is here
that vain dreams come, and here a great part of life is consumed. It
is here that much precious time is wasted, that is, in the morning,
when the mind is composed and rested, and the body is made fit to
begin new labours; there again many vain pleasures are enjoyed; both
by the mind in imagining impossible things, and by the body in
taking those pleasures that are often the cause of the failing of
life. And for these reasons the reed is held as their support.

[Footnote: 676. The pen and ink drawing on PI. LIX belongs to this

[Footnote: 8. tribolatione. In the drawing caltrops may be seen
lying in the old man’s right hand, others are falling and others
again are shewn on the ground. Similar caltrops are drawn in MS.
Tri. p. 98 and underneath them, as well as on page 96 the words
triboli di ferro are written. From the accompanying text it
appears that they were intended to be scattered on the ground at the
bottom of ditches to hinder the advance of the enemy. Count Giulio
Porro who published a short account of the Trivulzio MS. in the
Archivio Storico Lombardo“, Anno VIII part IV (Dec. 31, 1881) has
this note on the passages treating of “triboli“: “E qui
aggiungerò che anni sono quando venne fabbricata la nuova
cavallerizza presso il castello di Milano, ne furono trovati due che
io ho veduto ed erano precisamente quali si trovano descritti e
disegnati da Leonardo in questo codice

There can therefore be no doubt that this means of defence was in
general use, whether it were originally Leonardo’s invention or not.
The play on the word “tribolatione“, as it occurs in the drawing
at Oxford, must then have been quite intelligible.]

[Footnote: 9–22. These lines, in the original, are written on the
left side of the page and refer to the figure shown on PI. LXI. Next
to it is placed the group of three figures given in PI. LX No. I.
Lines 21 and 22, which are written under it, are the only
explanation given.]

Evil-thinking is either Envy or Ingratitude.


Envy must be represented with a contemptuous motion of the hand
towards heaven, because if she could she would use her strength
against God; make her with her face covered by a mask of fair
seeming; show her as wounded in the eye by a palm branch and by an
olive-branch, and wounded in the ear by laurel and myrtle, to
signify that victory and truth are odious to her. Many thunderbolts
should proceed from her to signify her evil speaking. Let her be
lean and haggard because she is in perpetual torment. Make her heart
gnawed by a swelling serpent, and make her with a quiver with
tongues serving as arrows, because she often offends with it. Give
her a leopard’s skin, because this creature kills the lion out of
envy and by deceit. Give her too a vase in her hand full of flowers
and scorpions and toads and other venomous creatures; make her ride
upon death, because Envy, never dying, never tires of ruling. Make
her bridle, and load her with divers kinds of arms because all her
weapons are deadly.



No sooner is Virtue born than Envy comes into the world to attack
it; and sooner will there be a body without a shadow than Virtue
without Envy.

[Footnote: The larger of the two drawings on PI. LXI is explained by
the first 21 lines of this passage. L. 22 and 23, which are written
above the space between the two drawings, do not seem to have any
reference to either. L. 24-27 are below the allegorical twin figure
which they serve to explain.]


When Pluto’s Paradise is opened, then there may be devils placed in
twelve pots like openings into hell. Here will be Death, the Furies,
ashes, many naked children weeping; living fires made of various


John the Baptist
Saint Augustin
Saint Peter
Saint Clara.
Our Lady Louis
Anthony of Padua.
Saint Francis.
Anthony, a lily and book;
Bernardino with the [monogram of] Jesus,
Louis with 3 fleur de lys on his breast and
the crown at his feet,
Bonaventura with Seraphim,
Saint Clara with the tabernacle,
Elisabeth with a Queen’s crown.

[Footnote: 679. The text of the first six lines is written within a
square space of the same size as the copy here given. The names are
written in the margin following the order in which they are here
printed. In lines 7–12 the names of those saints are repeated of
whom it seemed necessary to point out the emblems.]

List of drawings.


A head, full face, of a young man
with fine flowing hair,
Many flowers drawn from nature,
A head, full face, with curly hair,
Certain figures of Saint Jerome,
[6] The measurements of a figure,
Drawings of furnaces.
A head of the Duke,
[9] many designs for knots,
4 studies for the panel of Saint Angelo
A small composition of Girolamo da Fegline,
A head of Christ done with the pen,
[13] 8 Saint Sebastians,
Several compositions of Angels,
A chalcedony,
A head in profile with fine hair,
Some pitchers seen in(?) perspective,
Some machines for ships,
Some machines for waterworks,
A head, a portrait of Atalanta raising her
The head of Geronimo da Fegline,
The head of Gian Francisco Borso,
Several throats of old women,
Several heads of old men,
Several nude figures, complete,
Several arms, eyes, feet, and positions,
A Madonna, finished,
Another, nearly in profile,
Head of Our Lady ascending into Heaven,
A head of an old man with long chin,
A head of a gypsy girl,
A head with a hat on,
A representation of the Passion, a cast,
A head of a girl with her hair gathered in a knot,
A head, with the brown hair dressed.

[Footnote: 680. This has already been published by AMORETTI Memorie
cap. XVI. His reading varies somewhat from that here
given, e. g. l. 5 and 6. Certi Sangirolami in su d’una figura;
and instead of I. 13. Un San Bastiano.]

[Footnote: 680. 9. Molti disegni di gruppi. VASARI in his life of
Leonardo (IV, 21, ed. MILANESI 1880) says: “Oltreché perse tempo
fino a disegnare
gruppi di corde fatti con ordine, e che da un
capo seguissi tutto il resto fino all’ altro, tanto che s’empiessi
un tondo; che se ne vede in istampa uno difficilissimo e molto
bello, e nel mezzo vi sono queste parole: Leonardus Vinci
“. Gruppi must here be understood as a technical
expression for those twisted ornaments which are well known through
wood cuts. AMORETTI mentions six different ones in the Ambrosian
Library. I am indebted to M. DELABORDE for kindly informing me that
the original blocks of these are preserved in his department in the
Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. On the cover of these volumes is a
copy from one of them. The size of the original is 23 1/2
centimetres by 26 1/4. The centre portion of another is given on p.
361. G. Govi remarks on these ornaments (Saggio p. 22): “Codesti
gruppi eran probabilmente destinati a servir di modello a ferri da
rilegatori per adornar le cartelle degli scolari (?). Fregi
somigliantissimi a questi troviamo infatti impressi in oro sui
cartoni di vari volumi contemporanei, e li vediam pur figurare nelle
lettere iniziali di alcune edizioni del tempo.

Dürer who copied them, omitting the inscription, added to the second
impressions his own monogram. In his diary he designates them simply
as “Die sechs Knoten” (see THAUSING, Life of A. Dürer I, 362,
363). In Leonardo’s MSS. we find here and there little sketches or
suggestions for similar ornaments. Compare too G. MONGERI, L’Arte
in Milano
, p. 315 where an ornament of the same character is given
from the old decorations of the vaulted ceiling of the Sacristy of
S. Maria delle Grazie.]

[Footnote: 680, 17. The meaning in which the word coppi, literally
pitchers, is here used I am unable to determine; but a change to
copie seems to me too doubtful to be risked.]


Stubborn rigour.
Doomed rigour.

[Footnote: See PI. LXII, No. 2, the two upper pen and ink drawings.
The originals, in the Windsor collection are slightly washed with
colour. The background is blue sky; the plough and the instrument
with the compass are reddish brown, the sun is tinted yellow].


Obstacles cannot crush me
Every obstacle yields to stern resolve
He who is fixed to a star does not change
his mind.

[Footnote: This text is written to elucidate two sketches which were
obviously the first sketches for the drawings reproduced on PL LXII,
No. 2.]


Ivy is [a type] of longevity.

[Footnote: In the original there is, near this text, a sketch of a
coat wreathed above the waist with ivy.]


Truth the sun.
falsehood a mask.

Fire destroys falsehood,
that is sophistry, and
restores truth, driving out

Fire may be represented as the destroy of
all sophistry, and as the
image and demonstration of truth;
because it is light and drives
out darkness which conceals
all essences [or subtle things].

[Footnote: See PI. LXIII. L. 1-8 are in the middle of the page; 1.
9-14 to the right below; 1. 15-22 below in the middle column. The
rest of the text is below the sketches on the left. There are some
other passages on this page relating to geometry.]


Fire destroys all sophistry, that is deceit;
and maintains truth alone, that is gold.

Truth at last cannot be hidden.
Dissimulation is of no avail. Dissimulation is
to no purpose before
so great a judge.
Falsehood puts on a mask.
Nothing is hidden under the sun.

Fire is to represent truth because it
destroys all sophistry and lies; and the
mask is for lying and falsehood
which conceal truth.


Movement will cease before we are
of being useful.

Movement will fail sooner than usefulness.
Death sooner than I am never weary of
weariness. being useful,
In serving others I is a motto for carnval.
cannot do enough. Without fatigue.

No labour is
sufficient to tire me.

Hands into which
ducats and precious
stones fall like snow; they
never become tired by serving,
but this service is only for its
utility and not for our I am never weary
own benefit. of being useful.

nature has so disposed me.


This shall be placed in the
hand of Ingratitude.
Wood nourishes the fire that
consumes it.



When the sun appears
which dispels darkness in
general, you put out the
light which dispelled it
for you in particular
for your need and convenience.


On this side Adam and Eve on the other;
O misery of mankind, of how many things do
you make yourself the slave for money!

[Footnote: See PI. LXIV. The figures of Adam and Eve in the clouds
here alluded to would seem to symbolise their superiority to all
earthly needs.]


Thus are base unions sundered.

[Footnote: A much blurred sketch is on the page by this text. It
seems to represent an unravelled plait or tissue.]


Constancy does not begin, but is that
which perseveres.

[Footnote: A drawing in red chalk, also rubbed, which stands in the
original in the middle of this text, seems to me to be intended for
a sword hilt, held in a fist.]


Love, Fear, and Esteem,–
Write these on three stones. Of servants.


Prudence Strength.


Fame alone raises herself to Heaven,
because virtuous things are in favour with God.

Disgrace should be represented upside
down, because all her deeds are contrary to
God and tend to hell.


Short liberty.


Nothing is so much to be feared as Evil
This Evil Report is born of life.


Not to disobey.


A felled tree which is shooting

I am still hopeful.
A falcon,

[Footnote: I. Albero tagliato. This emblem was displayed during
the Carnival at Florence in 1513. See VASARI VI, 251, ed. MILANESI
1881. But the coincidence is probably accidental.]


Truth here makes Falsehood torment
lying tongues.


Such as harm is when it hurts me not,
is good which avails me not.

[Footnote: See PI. LX, No. 2. Compare this sketch with that on PI.
LXII, No. 2. Below the two lines of the text there are two more
lines: li gùchi (giunchi) che ritégò le paglucole (pagliucole)
chelli (che li) anniegano


He who offends others, does not secure himself.

[Footnote: See PI. LX, No. 3.]



[Footnote: See PI. LX, No. 4. Below the bottom sketches are the
unintelligible words “sta stilli.” For “Ingratitudo” compare
also Nos. 686 and 687.]


One’s thoughts turn towards Hope.

[Footnote: 702. By the side of this passage is a sketch of
a cage with a bird sitting in it.]

Ornaments and Decorations for feasts (703-705).


A bird, for a comedy.

[Footnote: The biographies say so much, and the author’s notes say
so little of the invention attributed to Leonardo of making
artificial birds fly through the air, that the text here given is of
exceptional interest from being accompanied by a sketch. It is a
very slight drawing of a bird with outspread wings, which appears to
be sliding down a stretched string. Leonardo’s flying machines and
his studies of the flight of birds will be referred to later.]



To make a beautiful dress cut it in thin cloth and give it an
odoriferous varnish, made of oil of turpentine and of varnish in
grain, with a pierced stencil, which must be wetted, that it may not
stick to the cloth; and this stencil may be made in a pattern of
knots which afterwards may be filled up with black and the ground
with white millet.[Footnote 7: The grains of black and white millet
would stick to the varnish and look like embroidery.]

[Footnote: Ser Giuliano, da Vinci the painter’s brother, had been
commissioned, with some others, to order and to execute the garments
of the Allegorical figures for the Carnival at Florence in 1515–16;
VASARI however is incorrect in saying of the Florentine Carnival of
1513: “equelli che feciono ed ordinarono gli abiti delle figure
furono Ser Piero da Vinci, padre di Lonardo, e Bernardino di
Giordano, bellissimi ingegni
” (See MILANESI’S ed. Voi. VI, pg.


Snow taken from the high peaks of mountains might be carried to hot
places and let to fall at festivals in open places at summer time.

*** End of Volume 1

The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci

Volume 2

Translated by Jean Paul Richter



The notes on Sculpture.

Compared with the mass of manuscript treating of Painting, a very
small number of passages bearing on the practice and methods of
Sculpture are to be found scattered through the note books; these
are here given at the beginning of this section (Nos. 706-709).
There is less cause for surprise at finding that the equestrian
statue of Francesco Sforza is only incidentally spoken of; for,
although Leonardo must have worked at it for a long succession of
years, it is not in the nature of the case that it could have given
rise to much writing. We may therefore regard it as particularly
fortunate that no fewer than thirteen notes in the master’s
handwriting can be brought together, which seem to throw light on
the mysterious history of this famous work. Until now writers on
Leonardo were acquainted only with the passages numbered 712, 719,
720, 722 and 723.

In arranging these notes on sculpture I have given the precedence to
those which treat of the casting of the monument, not merely because
they are the fullest, but more especially with a view to
reconstructing the monument, an achievement which really almost lies
within our reach by combining and comparing the whole of the
materials now brought to light, alike in notes and in sketches.

A good deal of the first two passages, Nos. 710 and 711, which refer
to this subject seems obscure and incomprehensible; still, they
supplement each other and one contributes in no small degree to the
comprehension of the other. A very interesting and instructive
commentary on these passages may be found in the fourth chapter of
Vasari’s Introduzione della Scultura under the title “Come si fanno
i modelli per fare di bronzo le figure grandi e picciole, e come le
forme per buttarle; come si armino di ferri, e come si gettino di
metallo,” &c. Among the drawings of models of the moulds for casting
we find only one which seems to represent the horse in the act of
galloping–No. 713. All the other designs show the horse as pacing
quietly and as these studies of the horse are accompanied by copious
notes as to the method of casting, the question as to the position
of the horse in the model finally selected, seems to be decided by
preponderating evidence. “Il cavallo dello Sforza”–C. Boito remarks
very appositely in the Saggio on page 26, “doveva sembrare fratello
al cavallo del Colleoni. E si direbbe che questo fosse figlio del
cavallo del Gattamelata, il quale pare figlio di uno dei quattro
cavalli che stavano forse sull’ Arco di Nerone in Roma” (now at
Venice). The publication of the Saggio also contains the
reproduction of a drawing in red chalk, representing a horse walking
to the left and supported by a scaffolding, given here on Pl. LXXVI,
No. 1. It must remain uncertain whether this represents the model as
it stood during the preparations for casting it, or whether–as
seems to me highly improbable–this sketch shows the model as it was
exhibited in 1493 on the Piazza del Castello in Milan under a
triumphal arch, on the occasion of the marriage of the Emperor
Maximilian to Bianca Maria Sforza. The only important point here is
to prove that strong evidence seems to show that, of the numerous
studies for the equestrian statue, only those which represent the
horse pacing agree with the schemes of the final plans.

The second group of preparatory sketches, representing the horse as
galloping, must therefore be considered separately, a distinction
which, in recapitulating the history of the origin of the monument
seems justified by the note given under No. 720.

Galeazza Maria Sforza was assassinated in 1476 before his scheme for
erecting a monument to his father Francesco Sforza could be carried
into effect. In the following year Ludovico il Moro the young
aspirant to the throne was exiled to Pisa, and only returned to
Milan in 1479 when he was Lord (Governatore) of the State of Milan,
in 1480 after the minister Cecco Simonetta had been murdered. It may
have been soon after this that Ludovico il Moro announced a
competition for an equestrian statue, and it is tolerably certain
that Antonio del Pollajuolo took part in it, from this passage in
Vasari’s Life of this artist: “E si trovo, dopo la morte sua, il
disegno e modello che a Lodovico Sforza egli aveva fatto per la
statua a cavallo di Francesco Sforza, duca di Milano; il quale
disegno e nel nostro Libro, in due modi: in uno egli ha sotto
Verona; nell’altro, egli tutto armato, e sopra un basamento pieno di
battaglie, fa saltare il cavallo addosso a un armato; ma la cagione
perche non mettesse questi disegni in opera, non ho gia potuto
sapere.” One of Pollajuolo’s drawings, as here described, has lately
been discovered by Senatore Giovanni Morelli in the Munich
Pinacothek. Here the profile of the horseman is a portrait of
Francesco Duke of Milan, and under the horse, who is galloping to
the left, we see a warrior thrown and lying on the ground; precisely
the same idea as we find in some of Leonardo’s designs for the
monument, as on Pl. LXVI, LXVII, LXVIII, LXIX and LXXII No. 1; and,
as it is impossible to explain this remarkable coincidence by
supposing that either artist borrowed it from the other, we can only
conclude that in the terms of the competition the subject proposed
was the Duke on a horse in full gallop, with a fallen foe under its

Leonardo may have been in the competition there and then, but the
means for executing the monument do not seem to have been at once
forthcoming. It was not perhaps until some years later that Leonardo
in a letter to the Duke (No. 719) reminded him of the project for
the monument. Then, after he had obeyed a summons to Milan, the plan
seems to have been so far modified, perhaps in consequence of a
remonstrance on the part of the artist, that a pacing horse was
substituted for one galloping, and it may have been at the same time
that the colossal dimensions of the statue were first decided on.
The designs given on Pl. LXX, LXXI, LXXII, 2 and 3, LXXIII and LXXIV
and on pp. 4 and 24, as well as three sketches on Pl. LXIX may be
studied with reference to the project in its new form, though it is
hardly possible to believe that in either of these we see the design
as it was actually carried out. It is probable that in Milan
Leonardo worked less on drawings, than in making small models of wax
and clay as preparatory to his larger model. Among the drawings
enumerated above, one in black chalk, Pl. LXXIII–the upper sketch
on the right hand side, reminds us strongly of the antique statue of
Marcus Aurelius. If, as it would seem, Leonardo had not until then
visited Rome, he might easily have known this statue from drawings
by his former master and friend Verrocchio, for Verrocchio had been
in Rome for a long time between 1470 and 1480. In 1473 Pope Sixtus
IV had this antique equestrian statue restored and placed on a new
pedestal in front of the church of San Giovanni in Luterano.
Leonardo, although he was painting independently as early as in 1472
is still spoken of as working in Verrocchio’s studio in 1477. Two
years later the Venetian senate decided on erecting an equestrian
statue to Colleoni; and as Verrocchio, to whom the work was
entrusted, did not at once move from Florence to Venice–where he
died in 1488 before the casting was completed–but on the contrary
remained in Florence for some years, perhaps even till 1485,
Leonardo probably had the opportunity of seeing all his designs for
the equestrian statue at Venice and the red chalk drawing on Pl.
LXXIV may be a reminiscence of it.

The pen and ink drawing on Pl. LXXII, No. 3, reminds us of
Donatello’s statue of Gattamelata at Padua. However it does not
appear that Leonardo was ever at Padua before 1499, but we may
conclude that he took a special interest in this early bronze statue
and the reports he could procure of it, form an incidental remark
which is to be found in C. A. 145a; 432a, and which will be given in
Vol. II under Ricordi or Memoranda. Among the studies–in the widest
sense of the word–made in preparation statue we may include the
Anatomy of the Horse which Lomazzo and Vas mention; the most
important parts of this work still exist in the Queen’s Li Windsor.
It was beyond a doubt compiled by Leonardo when at Milan; only
interesting records to be found among these designs are reproduced
in Nos. 716a but it must be pointed out that out of 40 sheets of
studies of the movements of the belonging to that treatise, a horse
in full gallop occurs but once.

If we may trust the account given by Paulus Jovius–about l527–
Leonardo’s horse was represented as “vehementer incitatus et
anhelatus”. Jovius had probably seen the model exhibited at Milan;
but, need we, in fact, infer from this description that the horse
was galloping? Compare Vasari’s description of the Gattamelata
monument at Padua: “Egli [Donatello] vi ando ben volentieri, e fece
il cavallo di bronzo, che e in sulla piazza di Sant Antonio, nel
quale si dimostra lo sbuffamento ed il fremito del cavallo, ed il
grande animo e la fierezza vivacissimamente espressa dall’arte nella
figura che lo cavalca”.

These descriptions, it seems to me, would only serve to mark the
difference between the work of the middle ages and that of the

We learn from a statement of Sabba da Castiglione that, when Milan
was taken by the French in 1499, the model sustained some injury;
and this informant, who, however is not invariably trustworthy, adds
that Leonardo had devoted fully sixteen years to this work (la forma
del cavallo, intorno a cui Leonardo avea sedici anni continui
consumati). This often-quoted passage has given ground for an
assumption, which has no other evidence to support it, that Leonardo
had lived in Milan ever since 1483. But I believe it is nearer the
truth to suppose that this author’s statement alludes to the fact
that about sixteen years must have past since the competition in
which Leonardo had taken part.

I must in these remarks confine myself strictly to the task in hand
and give no more of the history of the Sforza monument than is
needed to explain the texts and drawings I have been able to
reproduce. In the first place, with regard to the drawings, I may
observe that they are all, with the following two exceptions, in the
Queen’s Library at Windsor Castle; the red chalk drawing on Pl.
LXXVI No. 1 is in the MS. C. A. (see No. 7l2) and the fragmentary
pen and ink drawing on page 4 is in the Ambrosian Library. The
drawings from Windsor on Pl. LXVI have undergone a trifling
reduction from the size of the originals.

There can no longer be the slightest doubt that the well-known
engraving of several horsemen (Passavant, Le Peintre-Graveur, Vol.
V, p. 181, No. 3) is only a copy after original drawings by
Leonardo, executed by some unknown engraver; we have only to compare
the engraving with the facsimiles of drawings on Pl. LXV, No. 2, Pl.
LXVII, LXVIII and LXIX which, it is quite evident, have served as
models for the engraver.

On Pl. LXV No. 1, in the larger sketch to the right hand, only the
base is distinctly visible, the figure of the horseman is effaced.
Leonardo evidently found it unsatisfactory and therefore rubbed it

The base of the monument–the pedestal for the equestrian statue–is
repeatedly sketched on a magnificent plan. In the sketch just
mentioned it has the character of a shrine or aedicula to contain a
sarcophagus. Captives in chains are here represented on the
entablature with their backs turned to that portion of the monument
which more

strictly constitutes the pedestal of the horse. The lower portion of
the aedicula is surrounded by columns. In the pen and ink drawing
Pl. LXVI–the lower drawing on the right hand side–the sarcophagus
is shown between the columns, and above the entablature is a plinth
on which the horse stands. But this arrangement perhaps seemed to
Leonardo to lack solidity, and in the little sketch on the left
hand, below, the sarcophagus is shown as lying under an arched
canopy. In this the trophies and the captive warriors are detached
from the angles. In the first of these two sketches the place for
the trophies is merely indicated by a few strokes; in the third
sketch on the left the base is altogether broader, buttresses and
pinnacles having been added so as to form three niches. The black
chalk drawing on Pl. LXVIII shows a base in which the angles are
formed by niches with pilasters. In the little sketch to the extreme
left on Pl. LXV, No. 1, the equestrian statue serves to crown a
circular temple somewhat resembling Bramante’s tempietto of San
Pietro in Montario at Rome, while the sketch above to the right
displays an arrangement faintly reminding us of the tomb of the
Scaligers in Verona. The base is thus constructed of two platforms
or slabs, the upper one considerably smaller than the lower one
which is supported on flying buttresses with pinnacles.

On looking over the numerous studies in which the horse is not
galloping but merely walking forward, we find only one drawing for
the pedestal, and this, to accord with the altered character of the
statue, is quieter and simpler in style (Pl. LXXIV). It rises almost
vertically from the ground and is exactly as long as the pacing
horse. The whole base is here arranged either as an independent
baldaquin or else as a projecting canopy over a recess in which the
figure of the deceased Duke is seen lying on his sarcophagus; in the
latter case it was probably intended as a tomb inside a church.
Here, too, it was intended to fill the angles with trophies or
captive warriors. Probably only No. 724 in the text refers to the
work for the base of the monument.

If we compare the last mentioned sketch with the description of a
plan for an equestrian monument to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (No. 725)
it seems by no means impossible that this drawing is a preparatory
study for the very monument concerning which the manuscript gives us
detailed information. We have no historical record regarding this
sketch nor do the archives in the Trivulzio Palace give us any
information. The simple monument to the great general in San Nazaro
Maggiore in Milan consists merely of a sarcophagus placed in recess
high on the wall of an octagonal chapel. The figure of the warrior
is lying on the sarcophagus, on which his name is inscribed; a piece
of sculpture which is certainly not Leonardo’s work. Gian Giacomo
Trivulzio died at Chartres in 1518, only five months before
Leonardo, and it seems to me highly improbable that this should have
been the date of this sketch; under these circumstances it would
have been done under the auspices of Francis I, but the Italian
general was certainly not in favour with the French monarch at the
time. Gian Giacomo Trivulzio was a sworn foe to Ludovico il Moro,
whom he strove for years to overthrow. On the 6th September 1499 he
marched victorious into Milan at the head of a French army. In a
short time, however, he was forced to quit Milan again when Ludovico
il Moro bore down upon the city with a force of Swiss troops. On the
15th of April following, after defeating Lodovico at Novara,
Trivulzio once more entered Milan as a Conqueror, but his hopes of
becoming Governatore of the place were soon wrecked by intrigue.
This victory and triumph, historians tell us, were signalised by
acts of vengeance against the dethroned Sforza, and it might have
been particularly flattering to him that the casting and
construction of the Sforza monument were suspended for the time.

It must have been at this moment–as it seems to me–that he
commissioned the artist to prepare designs for his own monument,
which he probably intended should find a place in the Cathedral or
in some other church. He, the husband of Margherita di Nicolino
Colleoni, would have thought that he had a claim to the same
distinction and public homage as his less illustrious connection had
received at the hands of the Venetian republic. It was at this very
time that Trivulzio had a medal struck with a bust portrait of
himself and the following remarkable inscription on the reverse:_
(Sfortiam) DVC– (ducem) MLI (Mediolani)–NOIE
(nomine)–REGIS–FRANCORVM–EODEM–ANN –(anno) RED’T (redit)–LVS
(Ludovicus)–SVPERATVS ET CAPTVS–EST–AB–EO. _In the Library of
the Palazzo Trivulzio there is a MS. of Callimachus Siculus written
at the end of the XVth or beginning of the XVIth century. At the
beginning of this MS. there is an exquisite illuminated miniature of
an equestrian statue with the name of the general on the base; it is
however very doubtful whether this has any connection with
Leonardo’s design.

Nos. 731-740, which treat of casting bronze, have probably a very
indirect bearing on the arrangements made for casting the equestrian
statue of Francesco Sforza. Some portions evidently relate to the
casting of cannon. Still, in our researches about Leonardo’s work on
the monument, we may refer to them as giving us some clue to the
process of bronze casting at that period.

Some practical hints (706-709).



If you wish to make a figure in marble, first make one of clay, and
when you have finished it, let it dry and place it in a case which
should be large enough, after the figure is taken out of it, to
receive also the marble, from which you intend to reveal the figure
in imitation of the one in clay. After you have put the clay figure
into this said case, have little rods which will exactly slip in to
the holes in it, and thrust them so far in at each hole that each
white rod may touch the figure in different parts of it. And colour
the portion of the rod that remains outside black, and mark each rod
and each hole with a countersign so that each may fit into its
place. Then take the clay figure out of this case and put in your
piece of marble, taking off so much of the marble that all your rods
may be hidden in the holes as far as their marks; and to be the
better able to do this, make the case so that it can be lifted up;
but the bottom of it will always remain under the marble and in this
way it can be lifted with tools with great ease.


Some have erred in teaching sculptors to measure the limbs of their
figures with threads as if they thought that these limbs were
equally round in every part where these threads were wound about



Divide the head into 12 degrees, and each degree divide into 12
points, and each point into 12 minutes, and the minutes into minims
and the minims into semi minims.



Sculptured figures which appear in motion, will, in their standing
position, actually look as if they were falling forward.

[Footnote: figure di rilievo. Leonardo applies this term
exclusively to wholly detached figures, especially to those standing
free. This note apparently refers to some particular case, though we
have no knowledge of what that may have been. If we suppose it to
refer to the first model of the equestrian statue of Francesco
Sforza (see the introduction to the notes on Sculpture) this
observation may be regarded as one of his arguments for abandoning
the first scheme of the Sforza Monument, in which the horse was to
be galloping (see page 2). It is also in favour of this theory that
the note is written in a manuscript volume already completed in
1492. Leonardo’s opinions as to the shortcomings of plastic works
when compared with paintings are given under No. 655 and 656.]

Notes on the casting of the Sforza monument (710-715).


Three braces which bind the mould.

[If you want to make simple casts quickly, make them in a box of
river sand wetted with vinegar.]

[When you shall have made the mould upon the horse you must make the
thickness of the metal in clay.]

Observe in alloying how many hours are wanted for each
hundredweight. [In casting each one keep the furnace and its fire
well stopped up.] [Let the inside of all the moulds be wetted with
linseed oil or oil of turpentine, and then take a handful of
powdered borax and Greek pitch with aqua vitae, and pitch the mould
over outside so that being under ground the damp may not [damage

[To manage the large mould make a model of the small mould, make a
small room in proportion.]

[Make the vents in the mould while it is on the horse.]

Hold the hoofs in the tongs, and cast them with fish glue. Weigh the
parts of the mould and the quantity of metal it will take to fill
them, and give so much to the furnace that it may afford to each
part its amount of metal; and this you may know by weighing the clay
of each part of the mould to which the quantity in the furnace must
correspond. And this is done in order that the furnace for the legs
when filled may not have to furnish metal from the legs to help out
the head, which would be impossible. [Cast at the same casting as
the horse the little door]

[Footnote: The importance of the notes included under this number is
not diminished by the fact that they have been lightly crossed out
with red chalk. Possibly they were the first scheme for some fuller
observations which no longer exist; or perhaps they were crossed out
when Leonardo found himself obliged to give up the idea of casting
the equestrian statue. In the original the first two sketches are
above l. 1, and the third below l. 9.]



Make the horse on legs of iron, strong and well set on a good
foundation; then grease it and cover it with a coating, leaving each
coat to dry thoroughly layer by layer; and this will thicken it by
the breadth of three fingers. Now fix and bind it with iron as may
be necessary. Moreover take off the mould and then make the
thickness. Then fill the mould by degrees and make it good
throughout; encircle and bind it with its irons and bake it inside
where it has to touch the bronze.


Draw upon the horse, when finished, all the pieces of the mould with
which you wish to cover the horse, and in laying on the clay cut it
in every piece, so that when the mould is finished you can take it
off, and then recompose it in its former position with its joins, by
the countersigns.

The square blocks a b will be between the cover and the core, that
is in the hollow where the melted bronze is to be; and these square
blocks of bronze will support the intervals between the mould and
the cover at an equal distance, and for this reason these squares
are of great importance.

The clay should be mixed with sand.

Take wax, to return [what is not used] and to pay for what is used.

Dry it in layers.

Make the outside mould of plaster, to save time in drying and the
expense in wood; and with this plaster enclose the irons [props]
both outside and inside to a thickness of two fingers; make terra
cotta. And this mould can be made in one day; half a boat load of
plaster will serve you.


Dam it up again with glue and clay, or white of egg, and bricks and

[Footnote: See Pl. LXXV. The figure “40,” close to the sketch in the
middle of the page between lines 16 and 17 has been added by a
collector’s hand.

In the original, below line 21, a square piece of the page has been
cut out about 9 centimetres by 7 and a blank piece has been gummed
into the place.

Lines 22-24 are written on the margin. l. 27 and 28 are close to the
second marginal sketch. l. 42 is a note written above the third
marginal sketch and on the back of this sheet is the text given as
No. 642. Compare also No. 802.]


All the heads of the large nails.

[Footnote: See Pl. LXXVI, No. i. This drawing has already been
published in the “Saggio delle Opere di L. da Vinci.” Milano 1872,
Pl. XXIV, No. i. But, for various reasons I cannot regard the
editor’s suggestions as satisfactory. He says: “Veggonsi le
armature di legname colle quali forse venne sostenuto il modello,
quando per le nozze di Bianca Maria Sforza con Massimiliano
imperatore, esso fu collocato sotto un arco trionfale davanti al


These bindings go inside.


Salt may be made from human excrements, burnt and calcined, made
into lees and dried slowly at a fire, and all the excrements produce
salt in a similar way and these salts when distilled, are very

[Footnote: VASARI repeatedly states, in the fourth chapter of his
Introduzione della Scultura, that in preparing to cast bronze
statues horse-dung was frequently used by sculptors. If,
notwithstanding this, it remains doubtful whether I am justified in
having introduced here this text of but little interest, no such
doubt can be attached to the sketch which accompanies it.]



This may be done when the furnace is made [Footnote: this note is
written below the sketches.] strong and bruised.

Models for the horse of the Sforza monument (716-718).


Messer Galeazzo’s big genet


Messer Galeazzo’s Sicilian horse.

[Footnote: These notes are by the side of a drawing of a horse with
figured measurements.]


Measurement of the Sicilian horse the leg from behind, seen in
front, lifted and extended.

[Footnote: There is no sketch belonging to this passage. Galeazze
here probably means Galeazze di San Severino, the famous captain who
married Bianca the daughter of Ludovico il Moro.]

Occasional references to the Sforza monument (719-724).


Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the
immortal glory and eternal honour of the happy memory of the prince
your father, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.

[Footnote: The letter from which this passage is here extracted will
be found complete in section XXI. (see the explanation of it, on
page 2).]


On the 23rd of April 1490 I began this book, and recommenced the


There is to be seen, in the mountains of Parma and Piacenza, a
multitude of shells and corals full of holes, still sticking to the
rocks, and when I was at work on the great horse for Milan, a large
sackful of them, which were found thereabout, was brought to me into
my workshop, by certain peasants.


Believe me, Leonardo the Florentine, who has to do the equestrian
bronze statue of the Duke Francesco that he does not need to care
about it, because he has work for all his life time, and, being so
great a work, I doubt whether he can ever finish it. [Footnote: This
passage is quoted from a letter to a committee at Piacenza for whom
Leonardo seems to have undertaken to execute some work. The letter
is given entire in section XXL; in it Leonardo remonstrates as to
some unreasonable demands.]


Of the horse I will say nothing because I know the times. [Footnote:
This passage occurs in a rough copy of a letter to Ludovico il Moro,
without date (see below among the letters).]


During ten years the works on the marbles have been going on I will
not wait for my payment beyond the time, when my works are finished.
[Footnote: This possibly refers to the works for the pedestal of the
equestrian statue concerning which we have no farther information in
the MSS. See p. 6.]

The project of the Trivulzio monument.



[2] Cost of the making and materials for the horse [5].

[Footnote: In the original, lines 2-5, 12-14, 33-35, are written on
the margin. This passage has been recently published by G. Govi in
Vol. V, Ser. 3a, of Transunti, Reale Accademia dei Linea, sed. del
5 Giugno, 1881,
with the following introductory note: “Desidero
intanto che siano stampati questi pochi frammenti perche so che sono
stati trascritti ultimamente, e verranno messi in luce tra poco
fuori d’Italia. Li ripubblichi pure chi vuole, ma si sappia almeno
che anche tra noi si conoscevano, e s’eran raccolti da anni per
comporne, quando che fosse, una edizione ordinata degli scritti di

The learned editor has left out line 22 and has written 3 pie for
8 piedi in line 25. There are other deviations of less importance
from the original.]

A courser, as large as life, with the rider requires for the cost of
the metal, duc. 500.

And for cost of the iron work which is inside the model, and
charcoal, and wood, and the pit to cast it in, and for binding the
mould, and including the furnace where it is to be cast … duc.

To make the model in clay and then in wax……… duc. 432.

To the labourers for polishing it when it is cast. ……. duc. 450.

in all. . duc. 1582.

[12] Cost of the marble of the monument [14].

Cost of the marble according to the drawing. The piece of marble
under the horse which is 4 braccia long, 2 braccia and 2 inches wide
and 9 inches thick 58 hundredweight, at 4 Lire and 10 Soldi per
hundredweight.. duc. 58.

And for 13 braccia and 6 inches of cornice, 7 in. wide and 4 in.
thick, 24 hundredweight……. duc. 24.

And for the frieze and architrave, which is 4 br. and 6 in. long, 2
br. wide and 6 in. thick, 29 hundredweight., duc. 20.

And for the capitals made of metal, which are 8, 5 inches in. square
and 2 in. thick, at the price of 15 ducats each, will come to……
duc. 122.

And for 8 columns of 2 br. 7 in., 4 1/2 in. thick, 20 hundredweight
duc. 20.

And for 8 bases which are 5 1/2 in. square and 2 in. high 5 hund’..
duc. 5.

And for the slab of the tombstone 4 br. io in. long, 2 br. 4 1/2 in.
wide 36 hundredweight……. duc. 36.

And for 8 pedestal feet each 8 br. long and 6 1/2 in. wide and 6 1/2
in. thick, 20 hundredweight come to… duc. 20.

And for the cornice below which is 4 br. and 10 in. long, and 2 br.
and 5 in. wide, and 4 in. thick, 32 hund’.. duc. 32.

And for the stone of which the figure of the deceased is to be made
which is 3 br. and 8 in. long, and 1 br. and 6 in. wide, and 9 in.
thick, 30 hund’.. duc. 30.

And for the stone on which the figure lies which is 3 br. and 4 in.
long and 1 br. and 2 in., wide and 4 1/2 in. thick duc. 16.

And for the squares of marble placed between the pedestals which are
8 and are 9 br. long and 9 in. wide, and 3 in. thick, 8
hundredweight . . . duc. 8. in all. . duc. 389.

[33]Cost of the work in marble[35].

Round the base on which the horse stands there are 8 figures at 25
ducats each ………… duc. 200.

And on the same base there are 8 festoons with some other ornaments,
and of these there are 4 at the price of 15 ducats each, and 4 at
the price of 8 ducats each ……. duc. 92.

And for squaring the stones duc. 6.

Again, for the large cornice which goes below the base on which the
horse stands, which is 13 br. and 6 in., at 2 due. per br. ……
duc. 27.

And for 12 br. of frieze at 5 due. per br. ……….. duc. 60.

And for 12 br. of architrave at 1 1/2 duc. per br. ……. duc. 18.

And for 3 rosettes which will be the soffit of the monument, at 20
ducats each ………. duc. 60.

And for 8 fluted columns at 8 ducats each ……… duc. 64.

And for 8 bases at 1 ducat each, duc. 8.

And for 8 pedestals, of which 4 are at 10 duc. each, which go above
the angles; and 4 at 6 duc. each .. duc. 64.

And for squaring and carving the moulding of the pedestals at 2 duc.
each, and there are 8 …. duc. 16.

And for 6 square blocks with figures and trophies, at 25 duc. each
.. duc. 150.

And for carving the moulding of the stone under the figure of the
deceased ………. duc. 40.

For the statue of the deceased, to do it well ………. duc. 100.

For 6 harpies with candelabra, at 25 ducats each ……… duc. 150.

For squaring the stone on which the statue lies, and carving the
moulding ………… duc. 20.

in all .. duc. 1075.

The sum total of every thing added together amount to …… duc.



It can also be made without a spring. But the screw above must
always be joined to the part of the movable sheath: [Margin note:
The mint of Rome.] [Footnote: See Pl. LXXVI. This passage is taken
from a note book which can be proved to have been used in Rome.]

All coins which do not have the rim complete, are not to be accepted
as good; and to secure the perfection of their rim it is requisite
that, in the first place, all the coins should be a perfect circle;
and to do this a coin must before all be made perfect in weight, and
size, and thickness. Therefore have several plates of metal made of
the same size and thickness, all drawn through the same gauge so as
to come out in strips. And out of [24] these strips you will stamp
the coins, quite round, as sieves are made for sorting chestnuts
[27]; and these coins can then be stamped in the way indicated
above; &c.

[31] The hollow of the die must be uniformly wider than the lower,
but imperceptibly [35].

This cuts the coins perfectly round and of the exact thickness, and
weight; and saves the man who cuts and weighs, and the man who makes
the coins round. Hence it passes only through the hands of the
gauger and of the stamper, and the coins are very superior.
[Footnote: See Pl. LXXVI No. 2. The text of lines 31-35 stands
parallel 1. 24-27.

Farther evidence of Leonardo’s occupations and engagements at Rome
under Pope Leo X. may be gathered from some rough copies of letters
which will be found in this volume. Hitherto nothing has been known
of his work in Rome beyond some doubtful, and perhaps mythical,
statements in Vasari.]



The incombustible growth of soot on wicks reduced to powder, burnt
tin and all the metals, alum, isinglass, smoke from a brass forge,
each ingredient to be moistened, with aqua vitae or malmsey or
strong malt vinegar, white wine or distilled extract of turpentine,
or oil; but there should be little moisture, and cast in moulds.
[Margin note: On the coining of medals (727. 728).] [Footnote: The
meaning of scagliuolo in this passage is doubtful.]



A paste of emery mixed with aqua vitae, or iron filings with
vinegar, or ashes of walnut leaves, or ashes of straw very finely

[Footnote: The meaning of scagliuolo in this passage is doubtful.]

The diameter is given in the lead enclosed; it is beaten with a
hammer and several times extended; the lead is folded and kept
wrapped up in parchment so that the powder may not be spilt; then
melt the lead, and the powder will be on the top of the melted lead,
which must then be rubbed between two plates of steel till it is
thoroughly pulverised; then wash it with aqua fortis, and the
blackness of the iron will be dissolved leaving the powder clean.

Emery in large grains may be broken by putting it on a cloth many
times doubled, and hit it sideways with the hammer, when it will
break up; then mix it little by little and it can be founded with
ease; but if you hold it on the anvil you will never break it, when
it is large.

Any one who grinds smalt should do it on plates of tempered steel
with a cone shaped grinder; then put it in aqua fortis, which melts
away the steel that may have been worked up and mixed with the
smalt, and which makes it black; it then remains purified and clean;
and if you grind it on porphyry the porphyry will work up and mix
with the smalt and spoil it, and aqua fortis will never remove it
because it cannot dissolve the porphyry.

If you want a fine blue colour dissolve the smalt made with tartar,
and then remove the salt.

Vitrified brass makes a fine red.



Place stucco over the prominence of the….. which may be composed
of Venus and Mercury, and lay it well over that prominence of the
thickness of the side of a knife, made with the ruler and cover this
with the bell of a still, and you will have again the moisture with
which you applied the paste. The rest you may dry [Margin note: On
stucco (729. 730).] [Footnote: In this passage a few words have been
written in a sort of cipher–that is to say backwards; as in l. 3
erenev for Venere, l. 4 oirucrem for Mercurio, l. 12 il
orreve co ecarob
for il everro (?) co borace. The meaning of the
word before “di giesso” in l. 1 is unknown; and the sense, in
which sagoma is used here and in other passages is obscure.–
Venere and Mercurio may mean ‘marble’ and ‘lime’, of which
stucco is composed.

  1. The meaning of orreve is unknown.]

well; afterwards fire it, and beat it or burnish it with a good
burnisher, and make it thick towards the side.


Powder … with borax and water to a paste, and make stucco of it,
and then heat it so that it may dry, and then varnish it, with fire,
so that it shines well.



Take of butter 6 parts, of wax 2 parts, and as much fine flour as
when put with these 2 things melted, will make them as firm as wax
or modelling clay.


Take mastic, distilled turpentine and white lead.

On bronze casting generally (731-740).



Tartar burnt and powdered with plaster and cast cause the plaster to
hold together when it is mixed up again; and then it will dissolve
in water.



Take to every 2 cups of plaster 1 of ox-horns burnt, mix them
together and make your cast with it.


When you want to take a cast in wax, burn the scum with a candle,
and the cast will come out without bubbles.


2 ounces of plaster to a pound of metal;– walnut, which makes it
like the curve.

[Footnote: The second part of this is quite obscure.]


[Dried earth 16 pounds, 100 pounds of metal wet clay 20,–of wet
100,-half,- which increases 4 Ibs. of water,–1 of wax, 1 Ib. of
metal, a little less,-the scrapings of linen with earth, measure for
measure.] [Footnote: The translation is given literally, but the
meaning is quite obscure.]


Such as the mould is, so will the cast be.



Make a bunch of iron wire as thick as thread, and scrub them with
[this and] water; hold a bowl underneath that it may not make a mud


Make an iron rod, after the manner of a large chisel, and with this
rub over those seams on the bronze which remain on the casts of the
guns, and which are caused by the joins in the mould; but make the
tool heavy enough, and let the strokes be long and broad.


First alloy part of the metal in the crucible, then put it in the
furnace, and this being in a molten state will assist in beginning
to melt the copper.


When the copper cools in the furnace, be ready, as soon as you
perceive it, to cut it with a long stick while it is still in a
paste; or if it is quite cold cut it as lead is cut with broad and
large chisels.


If you have to make a cast of a hundred thousand pounds do it with
two furnaces and with 2000 pounds in each, or as much as 3000 pounds
at most.



If you want to break up a large mass of bronze, first suspend it,
and then make round it a wall on the four sides, like a trough of
bricks, and make a great fire therein. When it is quite red hot give
it a blow with a heavy weight raised above it, and with great force.



If you wish for economy in combining lead with the metal in order to
lessen the amount of tin which is necessary in the metal, first
alloy the lead with the tin and then add the molten copper.


The furnace should be between four well founded pillars.


The coating should not be more than two fingers thick, it should be
laid on in four thicknesses over fine clay and then well fixed, and
it should be fired only on the inside and then carefully covered
with ashes and cow’s dung.


The gun being made to carry 600 Ibs. of ball and more, by this rule
you will take the measure of the diameter of the ball and divide it
into 6 parts and one of these parts will be its thickness at the
muzzle; but at the breech it must always be half. And if the ball is
to be 700 lbs., 1/7th of the diameter of the ball must be its
thickness in front; and if the ball is to be 800, the eighth of its
diameter in front; and if 900, 1/8th and 1/2 [3/16], and if 1000,


If you want it to throw a ball of stone, make the length of the gun
to be 6, or as much as 7 diameters of the ball; and if the ball is
to be of iron make it as much as 12 balls, and if the ball is to be
of lead, make it as much as 18 balls. I mean when the gun is to have
the mouth fitted to receive 600 lbs. of stone ball, and more.


The thickness at the muzzle of small guns should be from a half to
one third of the diameter of the ball, and the length from 30 to 36



The furnace must be luted before you put the metal in it, with earth
from Valenza, and over that with ashes.

[Footnote 1. 2.: Terra di Valenza.–Valenza is north of
Alessandria on the Po.]


When you see that the bronze is congealing take some willow-wood cut
in small chips and make up the fire with it.


I say that the cause of this congealing often proceeds from too much
fire, or from ill-dried wood.


You may know when the fire is good and fit for your purpose by a
clear flame, and if you see the tips of the flames dull and ending
in much smoke do not trust it, and particularly when the flux metal
is almost fluid.


Metal for guns must invariably be made with 6 or even 8 per cent,
that is 6 of tin to one hundred of copper, for the less you put in,
the stronger will the gun be.


The tin should be put in with the copper when the copper is reduced
to a fluid.


You can hasten the melting when 2/3ds of the copper is fluid; you
can then, with a stick of chestnut-wood, repeatedly stir what of
copper remains entire amidst what is melted.

Introductory Observations on the Architectural Designs (XII), and
Writings on Architecture (XIII).

Until now very little has been known regarding Leonardo’s labours
in the domain of Architecture. No building is known to have been
planned and executed by him, though by some contemporary writers
incidental allusion is made to his occupying himself with
architecture, and his famous letter to Lodovico il Moro,–which has
long been a well-known document,–in which he offers his service as
an architect to that prince, tends to confirm the belief that he was
something more than an amateur of the art. This hypothesis has
lately been confirmed by the publication of certain documents,
preserved at Milan, showing that Leonardo was not only employed in
preparing plans but that he took an active part, with much credit,
as member of a commission on public buildings; his name remains
linked with the history of the building of the Cathedral at Pavia
and that of the Cathedral at Milan.

Leonardo’s writings on Architecture are dispersed among a large
number of MSS., and it would be scarcely possible to master their
contents without the opportunity of arranging, sorting and comparing
the whole mass of materials, so as to have some comprehensive idea
of the whole. The sketches, when isolated and considered by
themselves, might appear to be of but little value; it is not till
we understand their general purport, from comparing them with each
other, that we can form any just estimate of their true worth.

Leonardo seems to have had a project for writing a complete and
separate treatise on Architecture, such as his predecessors and
contemporaries had composed–Leon Battista Alberti, Filarete,
Francesco di Giorgio and perhaps also Bramante. But, on the other
hand, it cannot be denied that possibly no such scheme was connected
with the isolated notes and researches, treating on special
questions, which are given in this work; that he was merely working
at problems in which, for some reason or other he took a special

A great number of important buildings were constructed in Lombardy
during the period between 1472 and 1499, and among them there are
several by unknown architects, of so high an artistic merit, that it
is certainly not improbable that either Bramante or Leonardo da
Vinci may have been, directly or indirectly, concerned in their

Having been engaged, for now nearly twenty years, in a thorough
study of Bramante’s life and labours, I have taken a particular
interest in detecting the distinguishing marks of his style as
compared with Leonardo’s. In 1869 I made researches about the
architectural drawings of the latter in the Codex Atlanticus at
Milan, for the purpose of finding out, if possible the original
plans and sketches of the churches of Santa Maria delle Grazie at
Milan, and of the Cathedral at Pavia, which buildings have been
supposed to be the work both of Bramante and of Leonardo. Since 1876
I have repeatedly examined Leonardo’s architectural studies in the
collection of his manuscripts in the Institut de France, and some of
these I have already given to the public in my work on
“Les Projets
Primitifs pour la Basilique de St. Pierre de Rome”, P1. 43. In 1879
I had the opportunity of examining the manuscript in the Palazzo
Trivulzio at Milan, and in 1880 Dr Richter showed me in London the
manuscripts in the possession of Lord Ashburnham, and those in the
British Museum. I have thus had opportunities of seeing most of
Leonardo’s architectural drawings in the original, but of the
manuscripts tliemselves I have deciphered only the notes which
accompany the sketches. It is to Dr Richter’s exertions that we owe
the collected texts on Architecture which are now published, and
while he has undertaken to be responsible for the correct reading of
the original texts, he has also made it his task to extract the
whole of the materials from the various MSS. It has been my task to
arrange and elucidate the texts under the heads which have been
adopted in this work. MS. B. at Paris and the Codex Atlanticus at
Milan are the chief sources of our knowledge of Leonardo as an
architect, and I have recently subjected these to a thorough
re-investigation expressly with a view to this work.

A complete reproduction of all Leonardo’s architectural sketches
has not, indeed, been possible, but as far as the necessarily
restricted limits of the work have allowed, the utmost completeness
has been aimed at, and no efforts have been spared to include every
thing that can contribute to a knowledge of Leonardo’s style. It
would have been very interesting, if it had been possible, to give
some general account at least of Leonardo’s work and studies in
engineering, fortification, canal-making and the like, and it is
only on mature reflection that we have reluctantly abandoned this
idea. Leonardo’s occupations in these departments have by no means
so close a relation to literary work, in the strict sense of the
word as we are fairly justified in attributing to his numerous notes
on Architecture.

Leonardo’s architectural studies fall naturally under two heads:

I. Those drawings and sketches, often accompanied by short remarks
and explanations, which may be regarded as designs for buildings or
monuments intended to be built. With these there are occasionally
explanatory texts.

II. Theoretical investigations and treatises. A special interest
attaches to these because they discuss a variety of questions which
are of practical importance to this day. Leonardo’s theory as to the
origin and progress of cracks in buildings is perhaps to be
considered as unique in its way in the literature of Architecture.



Architectural Designs.

I. Plans for towns.

A. Sketches for laying out a new town with a double system of high-
level and low-level road-ways.

Pl. LXXVII, No. 1 (MS. B, 15b). A general view of a town, with the
roads outside it sloping up to the high-level ways within.

Pl. LXXVII, No. 3 (MS. B, 16b. see No. 741; and MS. B. 15b, see No.
742) gives a partial view of the town, with its streets and houses,
with explanatory references.

Pl. LXXVII, No. 2 (MS. B, 15b; see No. 743). View of a double
staircaise with two opposite flights of steps.

Pl. LXXVIII, Nos. 2 and 3 (MS. B, 37a). Sketches illustrating the
connection of the two levels of roads by means of steps. The lower
galleries are lighted by openings in the upper roadway.

B. Notes on removing houses (MS. Br. M., 270b, see No. 744).


The roads m are 6 braccia higher than the roads p s, and each
road must be 20 braccia wide and have 1/2 braccio slope from the
sides towards the middle; and in the middle let there be at every
braccio an opening, one braccio long and one finger wide, where the
rain water may run off into hollows made on the same level as p s.
And on each side at the extremity of the width of the said road let
there be an arcade, 6 braccia broad, on columns; and understand that
he who would go through the whole place by the high level streets
can use them for this purpose, and he who would go by the low level
can do the same. By the high streets no vehicles and similar objects
should circulate, but they are exclusively for the use of gentlemen.
The carts and burdens for the use and convenience of the inhabitants
have to go by the low ones. One house must turn its back to the
other, leaving the lower streets between them. Provisions, such as
wood, wine and such things are carried in by the doors n, and
privies, stables and other fetid matter must be emptied away
underground. From one arch to the next


must be 300 braccia, each street receiving its light through the
openings of the upper streets, and at each arch must be a winding
stair on a circular plan because the corners of square ones are
always fouled; they must be wide, and at the first vault there must
be a door entering into public privies and the said stairs lead from
the upper to the lower streets and the high level streets begin
outside the city gates and slope up till at these gates they have
attained the height of 6 braccia. Let such a city be built near the
sea or a large river in order that the dirt of the city may be
carried off by the water.


The construction of the stairs: The stairs c d go down to f g,
and in the same way f g goes down to h k.



Let the houses be moved and arranged in order; and this will be done
with facility because such houses are at first made in pieces on the
open places, and can then be fitted together with their timbers in
the site where they are to be permanent.

[9] Let the men of the country [or the village] partly inhabit the
new houses when the court is absent [12].

[Footnote: On the same page we find notes referring to Romolontino
and Villafranca with a sketch-map of the course of the “Sodro” and
the “(Lo)cra” (both are given in the text farther on). There can
hardly be a doubt that the last sentence of the passage given above,
refers to the court of Francis I. King of France.–L.9-13 are
written inside the larger sketch, which, in the original, is on the
right hand side of the page by the side of lines 1-8. The three
smaller sketches are below. J. P. R.]

_II. Plans for canals and streets in a town.

Pl. LXXIX, 1. and 2, (MS. B, 37b, see No. 745, and MS. B. 36a, see
No. 746). A Plan for streets and canals inside a town, by which the
cellars of the houses are made accessible in boats.

The third text given under No. 747 refers to works executed by
Leonardo in France._


The front a m will give light to the rooms; a e will be 6
braccia–a b 8 braccia —b e 30 braccia, in order that the rooms
under the porticoes may be lighted; c d f is the place where the
boats come to the houses to be unloaded. In order to render this
arrangement practicable, and in order that the inundation of the
rivers may not penetrate into the cellars, it is necessary to chose
an appropriate situation, such as a spot near a river which can be
diverted into canals in which the level of the water will not vary
either by inundations or drought. The construction is shown below;
and make choice of a fine river, which the rains do not render
muddy, such as the Ticino, the Adda and many others. [Footnote 12:
Tesino, Adda e molti altri, i.e. rivers coming from the mountains
and flowing through lakes.] The construction to oblige the waters to
keep constantly at the same level will be a sort of dock, as shown
below, situated at the entrance of the town; or better still, some
way within, in order that the enemy may not destroy it [14].

[Footnote: L. 1-4 are on the left hand side and within the sketch
given on Pl. LXXIX, No. I. Then follows after line 14, the drawing
of a sluicegate–conca–of which the use is explained in the text
below it. On the page 38a, which comes next in the original MS. is
the sketch of an oval plan of a town over which is written “modo di
canali per la citta
” and through the longer axis of it “canale
” is written with “Tesino” on the prolongation of the
canal. J. P. R.]


Let the width of the streets be equal to the average height of the


The main underground channel does not receive turbid water, but that
water runs in the ditches outside the town with four mills at the
entrance and four at the outlet; and this may be done by damming the
water above Romorantin.

[11]There should be fountains made in each piazza[13].

[Footnote: In the original this text comes immediately after the
passage given as No. 744. The remainder of the writing on the same
page refers to the construction of canals and is given later, in the
“Topographical Notes”.

Lines 1-11 are written to the right of the plan lines 11-13
underneath it. J. P. R.]

[Footnote 10: Romolontino is Romorantin, South of Orleans in

_III. Castles and Villas.

A. Castles.

Pl. LXXX, No. 1 (P. V. fol. 39b; No. d’ordre 2282). The fortified
place here represented is said by Vallardi to be the_ “castello” at
Milan, but without any satisfactory reason. The high tower behind
“rivellino” _ravelin–seems to be intended as a watch-tower.

Pl. LXXX, No. 2 (MS. B, 23b). A similarly constructed tower probably
intended for the same use.

Pl. LXXX, No. 3 (MS. B). Sketches for corner towers with steps for a

Pl. LXXX, No. 4 (W. XVI). A cupola crowning a corner tower; an
interesting example of decorative fortification. In this
reproduction of the original pen and ink drawing it appears

B. Projects for Palaces.

Pl. LXXXI, No. 2 (MS. C. A, 75b; 221a, see No. 748). Project for a
royal residence at Amboise in France.

Pl. LXXXII, No. 1 (C. A 308a; 939a). A plan for a somewhat extensive
residence, and various details; but there is no text to elucidate
it; in courts are written the three names:

Sam cosi giova
(St. Mark) (Cosmo) (John),
arch mo nino

C. Plans for small castles or Villas.

The three following sketches greatly resemble each other. Pl.
LXXXII, No. 2 (MS. K3 36b; see No. 749)._

_Pl. LXXXII, No. 3 (MS. B 60a; See No. 750).

Pl. LXXXIII (W. XVII). The text on this sheet refers to Cyprus (see
Topographical Notes No. 1103), but seems to have no direct
connection with the sketches inserted between.

Pl. LXXXVIII, Nos. 6 and 7 (MS. B, 12a; see No. 751). A section of a
circular pavilion with the plan of a similar building by the side of
it. These two drawings have a special historical interest because
the text written below mentions the Duke and Duchess of Milan.

The sketch of a villa on a terrace at the end of a garden occurs in
C. A. 150; and in C. A. 77b; 225b is another sketch of a villa
somewhat resembling the_ Belvedere _of Pope Innocent VIII, at Rome.
In C. A. 62b; 193b there is a Loggia.

Pl. LXXXII, No. 4 (C. A. 387a; 1198a) is a tower-shaped_ Loggia
above a fountain. The machinery is very ingeniously screened from


The Palace of the prince must have a piazza in front of it.

Houses intended for dancing or any kind of jumping or any other
movements with a multitude of people, must be on the ground- floor;
for I have already witnessed the destruction of some, causing death
to many persons, and above all let every wall, be it ever so thin,
rest on the ground or on arches with a good foundation.

Let the mezzanines of the dwellings be divided by walls made of very
thin bricks, and without wood on account of fire.

Let all the privies have ventilation [by shafts] in the thickness of
the walls, so as to exhale by the roofs.

The mezzanines should be vaulted, and the vaults will be stronger in
proportion as they are of small size.

The ties of oak must be enclosed in the walls in order to be
protected from fire.

[Footnote: The remarks accompanying the plan reproduced on Pl.
LXXXI, No. 2 are as follows: Above, to the left: “in a angholo
stia la guardia de la sstalla
” (in the angle a may be the keeper
of the stable). Below are the words “strada dabosa” (road to
Amboise), parallel with this “fossa br 40” (the moat 40 braccia)
fixing the width of the moat. In the large court surrounded by a
portico “in terre No.–Largha br.80 e lugha br 120.” To the right
of the castle is a large basin for aquatic sports with the words
Giostre colle nave cioe li giostra li stieno sopra le na
(Jousting in boats that is the men are to be in boats). J. P. R.]

The privies must be numerous and going one into the other in order
that the stench may not penetrate into the dwellings., and all their
doors must shut off themselves with counterpoises.

The main division of the facade of this palace is into two portions;
that is to say the width of the court-yard must be half the whole
facade; the 2nd …


30 braccia wide on each side; the lower entrance leads into a hall
10 braccia wide and 30 braccia long with 4 recesses each with a

[Footnote: On each side of the castle, Pl. LXXXII. No. 2 there are
drawings of details, to the left “Camino” a chimney, to the right
the central lantern, sketched in red “8 latii.e. an octagon.]


The firststorey [or terrace] must be entirely solid.


The pavilion in the garden of the Duchess of Milan.

The plan of the pavilion which is in the middle of the labyrinth of
the Duke of Milan.

[Footnote: This passage was first published by AMORETTI in Memorie
Cap. X: Una sua opera da riportarsi a quest’ anno fu il
bagno fatto per la duchessa Beatrice nel parco o giardino del
Castello. Lionardo non solo ne disegno il piccolo edifizio a foggia
di padiglione, nel cod. segnato Q. 3, dandone anche separatamente la
pianta; ma sotto vi scrisse: Padiglione del giardino della duchessa;
e sotto la pianta: Fondamento del padiglione ch’e nel mezzo del
labirinto del duca di Milano; nessuna data e presso il padiglione,
disegnato nella pagina 12, ma poco sopra fra molti circoli
intrecciati vedesi = 10 Luglio 1492 = e nella pagina 2 presso ad
alcuni disegni di legumi qualcheduno ha letto Settembre 1482 in vece
di 1492, come dovea scriverevi, e probabilmente scrisse Lionardo.

The original text however hardly bears the interpretation put upon
it by AMORETTI. He is mistaken as to the mark on the MS. as well as
in his statements as to the date, for the MS. in question has no
date; the date he gives occurs, on the contrary, in another
note-book. Finally, it appears to me quite an open question whether
Leonardo was the architect who carried out the construction of the
dome-like Pavilion here shown in section, or of the ground plan of
the Pavilion drawn by the side of it. Must we, in fact, suppose that
il duca di Milano” here mentioned was, as has been generally
assumed, Ludovico il Moro? He did not hold this title from the
Emperor before 1494; till that date he was only called Governatore
and Leonardo in speaking of him, mentions him generally as “il
” even after 1494. On January 18, 1491, he married Beatrice
d’Este the daughter of Ercole I, Duke of Ferrara. She died on the
2nd January 1497, and for the reasons I have given it seems
improbable that it should be this princess who is here spoken of as
the “Duchessa di Milano“. From the style of the handwriting it
appears to me to be beyond all doubt that the MS. B, from which this
passage is taken, is older than the dated MSS. of 1492 and 1493. In
that case the Duke of Milan here mentioned would be Gian Galeazzo
(1469-1494) and the Duchess would be his wife Isabella of Aragon, to
whom he was married on the second February 1489. J. P. R.]


The earth that is dug out from the cellars must be raised on one
side so high as to make a terrace garden as high as the level of the
hall; but between the earth of the terrace and the wall of the
house, leave an interval in order that the damp may not spoil the
principal walls.

_IV. Ecclesiastical Architecture.

A. General Observations._


A building should always be detached on all sides so that its form
may be seen.

[Footnote: The original text is reproduced on Pl. XCII, No. 1 to the
left hand at the bottom.]


Here there cannot and ought not to be any campanile; on the
contrary it must stand apart like that of the Cathedral and of San
Giovanni at Florence, and of the Cathedral at Pisa, where the
campanile is quite detached as well as the dome. Thus each can
display its own perfection. If however you wish to join it to the
church, make the lantern serve for the campanile as in the church at

[Footnote: This text is written by the side of the plan given on Pl.
XCI. No. 2.]

[Footnote 12: The Abbey of Chiaravalle, a few miles from Milan, has
a central tower on the intersection of the cross in the style of
that of the Certosa of Pavia, but the style is mediaeval (A. D.
1330). Leonardo seems here to mean, that in a building, in which the
circular form is strongly conspicuous, the campanile must either be
separated, or rise from the centre of the building and therefore
take the form of a lantern.]


It never looks well to see the roofs of a church; they should rather
be flat and the water should run off by gutters made in the frieze.

[Footnote: This text is to the left of the domed church reproduced
on Pl. LXXXVII, No. 2.]

_B. The theory of Dome Architecture.

This subject has been more extensively treated by Leonardo in
drawings than in writing. Still we may fairly assume that it was his
purpose, ultimately to embody the results of his investigation in a_
“Trattato delle Cupole.” _The amount of materials is remarkably
extensive. MS. B is particularly rich in plans and elevations of
churches with one or more domes–from the simplest form to the most
complicated that can be imagined. Considering the evident connexion
between a great number of these sketches, as well as the
impossibility of seeing in them designs or preparatory sketches for
any building intended to be erected, the conclusion is obvious that
they were not designed for any particular monument, but were
theoretical and ideal researches, made in order to obtain a clear
understanding of the laws which must govern the construction of a
great central dome, with smaller ones grouped round it; and with or
without the addition of spires, so that each of these parts by
itself and in its juxtaposition to the other parts should produce
the grandest possible effect.

In these sketches Leonardo seems to have exhausted every imaginable
combination. [Footnote 1: In MS. B, 32b (see Pl. C III, No. 2) we
find eight geometrical patterns, each drawn in a square; and in MS.
C.A., fol. 87 to 98 form a whole series of patterns done with the
same intention.] The results of some of these problems are perhaps
not quite satisfactory; still they cannot be considered to give
evidence of a want of taste or of any other defect in Leonardo s
architectural capacity. They were no doubt intended exclusively for
his own instruction, and, before all, as it seems, to illustrate the
features or consequences resulting from a given principle._

I have already, in another place, [Footnote 1: Les Projets
Primitifs pour la Basilique de St. Pierre de Rome, par Bramante,
Raphael etc.,Vol. I, p. 2.] _pointed out the law of construction for
buildings crowned by a large dome: namely, that such a dome, to
produce the greatest effect possible, should rise either from the
centre of a Greek cross, or from the centre of a structure of which
the plan has some symmetrical affinity to a circle, this circle
being at the same time the centre of the whole plan of the building.

Leonardo’s sketches show that he was fully aware, as was to be
expected, of this truth. Few of them exhibit the form of a Latin
cross, and when this is met with, it generally gives evidence of the
determination to assign as prominent a part as possible to the dome
in the general effect of the building.

While it is evident, on the one hand, that the greater number of
these domes had no particular purpose, not being designed for
execution, on the other hand several reasons may be found for
Leonardo’s perseverance in his studies of the subject.

Besides the theoretical interest of the question for Leonardo and
his_ Trattato and besides the taste for domes prevailing at that
time, it seems likely that the intended erection of some building of
the first importance like the Duomos of Pavia and Como, the church
of Sta. Maria delle Grazie at Milan, and the construction of a Dome
or central Tower
(Tiburio) _on the cathedral of Milan, may have
stimulated Leonardo to undertake a general and thorough
investigation of the subject; whilst Leonardo’s intercourse with
Bramante for ten years or more, can hardly have remained without
influence in this matter. In fact now that some of this great
Architect’s studies for S. Peter’s at Rome have at last become
known, he must be considered henceforth as the greatest master of
Dome-Architecture that ever existed. His influence, direct or
indirect even on a genius like Leonardo seems the more likely, since
Leonardo’s sketches reveal a style most similar to that of Bramante,
whose name indeed, occurs twice in Leonardo’s manuscript notes. It
must not be forgotten that Leonardo was a Florentine; the
characteristic form of the two principal domes of Florence, Sta.
Maria del Fiore and the Battisterio, constantly appear as leading
features in his sketches.

The church of San Lorenzo at Milan, was at that time still intact.
The dome is to this day one of the most wonderful cupolas ever
constructed, and with its two smaller domes might well attract the
attention and study of a never resting genius such as Leonardo. A
whole class of these sketches betray in fact the direct influence of
the church of S. Lorenzo, and this also seems to have suggested the
plan of Bramante’s dome of St. Peter’s at Rome.

In the following pages the various sketches for the construction of
domes have been classified and discussed from a general point of
view. On two sheets: Pl. LXXXIV (C.A. 354b; 118a) and Pl. LXXXV,
Nos. 1-11 (Ash. II, 6b) we see various dissimilar types, grouped
together; thus these two sheets may be regarded as a sort of
nomenclature of the different types, on which we shall now have to

_1. Churches formed on the plan of a Greek cross.

Group I.

Domes rising from a circular base.

The simplest type of central building is a circular edifice.

Pl. LXXXIV, No. 9. Plan of a circular building surrounded by a

Pl. LXXXIV, No. 8. Elevation of the former, with a conical roof.

Pl. XC. No. 5. A dodecagon, as most nearly approaching the circle.

Pl. LXXXVI, No. 1, 2, 3. Four round chapels are added at the
extremities of the two principal axes;–compare this plan with fig.
1 on p. 44 and fig. 3 on p. 47 (W. P. 5b) where the outer wall is

Group II.

Domes rising from a square base.

The plan is a square surrounded by a colonnade, and the dome seems
to be octagonal.

Pl. LXXXIV. The square plan below the circular building No. 8, and
its elevation to the left, above the plan: here the ground-plan is
square, the upper storey octagonal. A further development of this
type is shown in two sketches C. A. 3a (not reproduced here), and in

Pl. LXXXVI, No. 5 (which possibly belongs to No. 7 on Pl. LXXXIV).

Pl, LXXXV, No. 4, and p. 45, Fig. 3, a Greek cross, repeated p. 45,
Fig. 3, is another development of the square central plan.

The remainder of these studies show two different systems; in the
first the dome rises from a square plan,–in the second from an
octagonal base._

_Group III.

Domes rising from a square base and four pillars. [Footnote 1: The
ancient chapel San Satiro, via del Falcone, Milan, is a specimen of
this type.]_

a) First type. _A Dome resting on four pillars in the centre of a
square edifice, with an apse in the middle, of each of the four
sides. We have eleven variations of this type.

aa) Pl. LXXXVIII, No. 3.

bb) Pl. LXXX, No. 5.

cc) Pl. LXXXV, Nos. 2, 3, 5.

dd) Pl. LXXXIV, No. 1 and 4 beneath.

ee) Pl. LXXXV, Nos. 1, 7, 10, 11._

b) Second type. _This consists in adding aisles to the whole plan of
the first type; columns are placed between the apses and the aisles;
the plan thus obtained is very nearly identical with that of S.
Lorenzo at Milan.

Fig. 1 on p. 56. (MS. B, 75a) shows the result of this treatment
adapted to a peculiar purpose about which we shall have to say a few
words later on.

Pl. XCV, No. 1, shows the same plan but with the addition of a short
nave. This plan seems to have been suggested by the general
arrangement of S. Sepolcro at Milan.

MS. B. 57b (see the sketch reproduced on p.51). By adding towers in
the four outer angles to the last named plan, we obtain a plan which
bears the general features of Bramante’s plans for S. Peter’s at
Rome. [Footnote 2: See_ Les projets primitifs _etc., Pl. 9-12.] (See
p. 51 Fig. 1.)

Group IV.

Domes rising from an octagonal base.

This system, developed according to two different schemes, has given
rise to two classes with many varieties.

In a) On each side of the octagon chapels of equal form are added.

In b) The chapels are dissimilar; those which terminate the
principal axes being different in form from those which are added on
the diagonal sides of the octagon.

a. First Class.

The Chapel_ “degli Angeli,” at Florence, built only to a height of
about 20 feet by Brunellesco, may be considered as the prototype of
this group; and, indeed it probably suggested it. The fact that we
see in MS. B. 11b (Pl. XCIV, No. 3) by the side of Brunellesco’s
plan for the Basilica of Sto. Spirito at Florence, a plan almost
identical with that of the
Capella degli Angeli, confirms this
supposition. Only two small differences, or we may say improvements,
have been introduced by Leonardo. Firstly the back of the chapels
contains a third niche, and each angle of the Octagon a folded
pilaster like those in Bramante’s
Sagrestia di S. M. presso San
Satiro _at Milan, instead of an interval between the two pilasters
as seen in the Battistero at Florence and in the Sacristy of Sto.
Spirito in the same town and also in the above named chapel by

The first set of sketches which come under consideration have at
first sight the appearance of mere geometrical studies. They seem to
have been suggested by the plan given on page 44 Fig. 2 (MS. B, 55a)
in the centre of which is written_ “Santa Maria in perticha da
Pavia”, _at the place marked A on the reproduction.

a) (MS. B, 34b, page 44 Fig. 3). In the middle of each side a column
is added, and in the axes of the intercolumnar spaces a second row
of columns forms an aisle round the octagon. These are placed at the
intersection of a system of semicircles, of which the sixteen
columns on the sides of the octagon are the centres.

b) The preceding diagram is completed and becomes more monumental in
style in the sketch next to it (MS. B, 35a, see p. 45 Fig. 1). An
outer aisle is added by circles, having for radius the distance
between the columns in the middle sides of the octagon.

c) (MS. B. 96b, see p. 45 Fig. 2). Octagon with an aisle round it;
the angles of both are formed by columns. The outer sides are formed
by 8 niches forming chapels. The exterior is likewise octagonal,
with the angles corresponding to the centre of each of the interior

Pl. XCII, No. 2 (MS. B. 96b). Detail and modification of the
preceding plan–half columns against piers–an arrangement by which
the chapels of the aisle have the same width of opening as the inner
arches between the half columns. Underneath this sketch the
following note occurs:_ questo vole – avere 12 facce – co 12
tabernaculi – come – ab. (This will have twelve sides with
twelve tabernacles as
a b._) In the remaining sketches of this
class the octagon is not formed by columns at the angles.

The simplest type shows a niche in the middle of each side and is
repeated on several sheets, viz: MS. B 3; MS. C.A. 354b (see Pl.
LXXXIV, No. 11) and MS. Ash II 6b; (see Pl. LXXXV, No. 9 and the
elevations No. 8; Pl. XCII, No. 3; MS. B. 4b [not reproduced here]
and Pl. LXXXIV, No. 2)._

_Pl. XCII, 3 (MS. B, 56b) corresponds to a plan like the one in MS.
B 35a, in which the niches would be visible outside or, as in the
following sketch, with the addition of a niche in the middle of each

Pl. XC, No. 6. The niches themselves are surrounded by smaller
niches (see also No. 1 on the same plate).

Octagon expanded on each side.

A. by a square chapel:

MS. B. 34b (not reproduced here).

B. by a square with 3 niches:

MS. B. 11b (see Pl. XCIV, No. 3).

C. by octagonal chapels:

a) MS. B, 21a; Pl. LXXXVIII, No. 4.

b) No. 2 on the same plate. Underneath there is the remark:_
“quest’e come le 8 cappele ano a essere facte” _(this is how the
eight chapels are to be executed).

c) Pl. LXXXVIII, No. 5. Elevation to the plans on the same sheet, it
is accompanied by the note:_ “ciasscuno de’ 9 tiburi no’uole –
passare l’alteza – di – 2 – quadri” _(neither of the 9 domes must
exceed the height of two squares).

d) Pl. LXXXVIII, No. 1. Inside of the same octagon. MS. B, 30a, and
34b; these are three repetitions of parts of the same plan with very
slight variations.

D. by a circular chapel:

MS. B, 18a (see Fig. 1 on page 47) gives the plan of this
arrangement in which the exterior is square on the ground floor with
only four of the chapels projecting, as is explained in the next

Pl. LXXXIX, MS. B, 17b. Elevation to the preceding plan sketched on
the opposite side of the sheet, and also marked A. It is accompanied
by the following remark, indicating the theoretical character of
these studies:_ questo – edifitio – anchora – starebbe – bene
affarlo dalla linja – abcd – insu. (“This edifice
would also produce a good effect if only the part above the lines
b, c d, _were executed”).

Pl. LXXXIV, No. 11. The exterior has the form of an octagon, but the
chapels project partly beyond it. On the left side of the sketch
they appear larger than on the right side.

Pl. XC, No. 1, (MS. B, 25b); Repetition of Pl. LXXXIV, No. 11.

Pl. XC, No. 2. Elevation to the plan No. 1, and also to No. 6 of the
same sheet._

_E. By chapels formed by four niches:

Pl. LXXXIV, No. 7 (the circular plan on the left below) shows this
arrangement in which the central dome has become circular inside and
might therefore be classed after this group. [Footnote 1: This plan
and some others of this class remind us of the plan of the Mausoleum
of Augustus as it is represented for instance by Durand. See_ Cab.
des Estampes, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, Topographie de Rome, V,
6, 82._]

The sketch on the right hand side gives most likely the elevation
for the last named plan.

F. By chapels of still richer combinations, which necessitate an
octagon of larger dimensions:

Pl. XCI, No. 2 (MS. Ash. 11. 8b) [Footnote 2: The note accompanying
this plan is given under No. 754.]; on this plan the chapels
themselves appear to be central buildings formed like the first type
of the third group. Pl. LXXXVIII, No. 3.

Pl. XCI, No. 2 above; the exterior of the preceding figure,
particularly interesting on account of the alternation of apses and
niches, the latter containing statues of a gigantic size, in
proportion to the dimension of the niches.

b. Second Class.

Composite plans of this class are generally obtained by combining
two types of the first class–the one worked out on the principal
axes, the other on the diagonal ones.

MS. B. 22 shows an elementary combination, without any additions on
the diagonal axes, but with the dimensions of the squares on the two
principal axes exceeding those of the sides of the octagon.

In the drawing W. P. 5b (see page 44 Fig. 1) the exterior only of
the edifice is octagonal, the interior being formed by a circular
colonnade; round chapels are placed against the four sides of the
principal axes.

The elevation, drawn on the same sheet (see page 47 Fig. 3), shows
the whole arrangement which is closely related with the one on Pl.
LXXXVI No. 1, 2.

MS. B. 21a shows:

a) four sides with rectangular chapels crowned by pediments Pl.
LXXXVII No. 3 (plan and elevation);

b) four sides with square chapels crowned by octagonal domes. Pl.
LXXXVII No. 4; the plan underneath.

MS. B. 18a shows a variation obtained by replacing the round chapels
in the principal axes of the sketch MS. B. l8a by square ones, with
an apse. Leonardo repeated both ideas for better comparison side by
side, see page 47. Fig. 2.

Pl. LXXXIX (MS. B. 17b). Elevation for the preceding figure. The
comparison of the drawing marked M with the plan on page 47 Fig. 2,
bearing the same mark, and of the elevation on Pl. LXXXIX below
(marked A) with the corresponding plan on page 47 is highly
instructive, as illustrating the spirit in which Leonardo pursued
these studies.

Pl. LXXXIV No. 12 shows the design Pl. LXXXVII No. 3 combined with
apses, with the addition of round chapels on the diagonal sides.

Pl. LXXXIV No. 13 is a variation of the preceding sketch.

Pl. XC No. 3. MS. B. 25b. The round chapels of the preceding sketch
are replaced by octagonal chapels, above which rise campaniles.

Pl. XC No. 4 is the elevation for the preceding plan.

Pl. XCII No. 1. (MS. B. 39b.); the plan below. On the principal as
well as on the diagonal axes are diagonal chapels, but the latter
are separated from the dome by semicircular recesses. The
communication between these eight chapels forms a square aisle round
the central dome.

Above this figure is the elevation, showing four campaniles on the
angles. [Footnote 1: The note accompanying this drawing is
reproduced under No. 753.]

Pl. LXXXIV No. 3. On the principal axes are square chapels with
three niches; on the diagonals octagonal chapels with niches. Cod.
Atl. 340b gives a somewhat similar arrangement.

MS. B. 30. The principal development is thrown on the diagonal axes
by square chapels with three niches; on the principal axes are inner
recesses communicating with outer ones.

The plan Pl. XCIII No. 2 (MS. B. 22) differs from this only in so
far as the outer semicircles have become circular chapels,
projecting from the external square as apses; one of them serves as
the entrance by a semicircular portico.

The elevation is drawn on the left side of the plan.

MS. B. 19. A further development of MS. B. 18, by employing for the
four principal chapels the type Pl. LXXXVIII No. 3, as we have
already seen in Pl. XCI No. 2; the exterior presents two varieties.

a) The outer contour follows the inner. [Footnote 2: These chapels
are here sketched in two different sizes; it is the smaller type
which is thus formed.]

b) It is semicircular.

Pl. LXXXVII No. 2 (MS. B. 18b) Elevation to the first variation MS.
B. 19. If we were not certain that this sketch was by Leonardo, we
might feel tempted to take it as a study by Bramante for St. Peter’s
at Rome. [Footnote 3: See_ Les projets primitifs Pl. 43.]

_MS. P. V. 39b. In the principal axes the chapels of MS. B. 19, and
semicircular niches on the diagonals. The exterior of the whole
edifice is also an octagon, concealing the form of the interior
chapels, but with its angles on their axes.

Group V.

Suggested by San Lorenzo at Milan.

In MS. C. A. 266 IIb, 8l2b there is a plan almost identical with
that of San Lorenzo. The diagonal sides of the irregular octagon are
not indicated.

If it could be proved that the arches which, in the actual church,
exist on these sides in the first story, were added in 1574 by
Martimo Bassi, then this plan and the following section would be
still nearer the original state of San Lorenzo than at present. A
reproduction of this slightly sketched plan has not been possible.
It may however be understood from Pl. LXXXVIII No. 3, by suppressing
the four pillars corresponding to the apses.

Pl. LXXXVII No. 1 shows the section in elevation corresponding with
the above-named plan. The recessed chapels are decorated with large
shells in the halfdomes like the arrangement in San Lorenzo, but
with proportions like those of Bramante’s Sacristy of Santa Maria
presso S. Satiro.

MS. C. A. 266; a sheet containing three views of exteriors of Domes.
On the same sheet there is a plan similar to the one above-named but
with uninterrupted aisles and with the addition of round chapels in
the axes (compare Pl. XCVII No. 3 and page 44 Fig. 1), perhaps a
reminiscence of the two chapels annexed to San Lorenzo.–Leonardo
has here sketched the way of transforming this plan into a Latin
cross by means of a nave with side aisles.

Pl. XCI No. 1. Plan showing a type deprived of aisles and comprised
in a square building which is surrounded by a portico. It is
accompanied by the following text:_


This edifice is inhabited [accessible] below and above, like San
Sepolcro, and it is the same above as below, except that the upper
story has the dome c d; and the [Footnote: The church of San
Sepolcro at Milan, founded in 1030 and repeatedly rebuilt after the
middle of the XVIth century, still stands over the crypt of the
original structure.] lower has the dome a b, and when you enter
into the crypt, you descend 10 steps, and when you mount into the
upper you ascend 20 steps, which, with 1/3 braccio for each, make 10
braccia, and this is the height between one floor of the church and
the other.

Above the plan on the same sheet is a view of the exterior. By the
aid of these two figures and the description, sections of the
edifice may easily be reconstructed. But the section drawn on the
left side of the building seems not to be in keeping with the same
plan, notwithstanding the explanatory note written underneath it:
“dentro il difitio di sopra” (interior of the edifice
above)[Footnote 1: _The small inner dome corresponds to
a b on the
plan–it rises from the lower church into the upper– above, and
larger, rises the dome
c d. The aisles above and below thus
(e di sopra come di sotto, salvoche etc.). The only
difference is, that in the section Leonardo has not taken the
trouble to make the form octagonal, but has merely sketched circular
lines in perspective.
J. P. R._].

_Before leaving this group, it is well to remark that the germ of it
seems already indicated by the diagonal lines in the plans Pl. LXXXV
No. 11 and No. 7. We shall find another application of the same type
to the Latin cross in Pl. XCVII No. 3.

_2. Churches formed on the plan of a Latin cross.

We find among Leonardo’s studies several sketches for churches on
the plan of the Latin cross; we shall begin by describing them, and
shall add a few observations.

A. Studies after existing Monuments.

Pl. XCIV No. 2. (MS. B. 11b.) Plan of Santo Spirito at Florence, a
basilica built after the designs of Brunellesco.–Leonardo has added
the indication of a portico in front, either his own invention or
the reproduction of a now lost design.

Pl. XCV No. 2. Plan accompanied by the words: “A_ e santo sepolcro
di milano di sopra”(A _is the upper church of S. Sepolcro at Milan);
although since Leonardo’s time considerably spoilt, it is still the
same in plan.

The second plan with its note: “B_ e la sua parte socto tera” (B _is
its subterranean part [the crypt]) still corresponds with the
present state of this part of the church as I have ascertained by
visiting the crypt with this plan. Excepting the addition of a few
insignificant walls, the state of this interesting part of the
church still conforms to Leonardo’s sketch; but in the Vestibolo the
two columns near the entrance of the winding stairs are absent.

B. Designs or Studies.

PL. XCV No. 1. Plan of a church evidently suggested by that of San
Sepolcro at Milan. The central part has been added to on the
principle of the second type of Group III. Leonardo has placed the_
“coro” (choir) in the centre.

_Pl. XCVI No. 2. In the plan the dome, as regards its interior,
belongs to the First Class of Group IV, and may be grouped with the
one in MS. B. 35a. The nave seems to be a development of the type
represented in Pl. XCV No. 2, B. by adding towers and two lateral
porticos[Footnote 1: Already published in Les projets primitifs Pl.

On the left is a view of the exterior of the preceding plan. It is
accompanied by the following note:_


This building is inhabited below and above; the way up is by the
campaniles, and in going up one has to use the platform, where the
drums of the four domes are, and this platform has a parapet in
front, and none of these domes communicate with the church, but they
are quite separate.

_Pl. XCVI No. 1 (MS. C. A. 16b; 65a). Perspective view of a church
seen from behind; this recalls the Duomo at Florence, but with two
campaniles[Footnote 2: Already published in the Saggio Pl. IX.].

Pl. XCVII No. 3 (MS. B. 52a). The central part is a development of
S. Lorenzo at Milan, such as was executed at the Duomo of Pavia.
There is sufficient analogy between the building actually executed
and this sketch to suggest a direct connection between them.
Leonardo accompanied Francesco di Giorgio[Footnote 3: See MALASPINA,
il Duomo di Pavia. Documents.] when the latter was consulted on June
21st, 1490 as to this church; the fact that the only word
accompanying the plan is:_ “sagrestia”, _seems to confirm our
supposition, for the sacristies were added only in 1492, i. e. four
years after the beginning of the Cathedral, which at that time was
most likely still sufficiently unfinished to be capable of receiving
the form of the present sketch.

Pl. XCVII No. 2 shows the exterior of this design. Below is the
note:_ edifitio al proposito del fodameto figurato di socto
_(edifice proper for the ground plan figured below).

Here we may also mention the plan of a Latin cross drawn in MS. C.
A. fol. 266 (see p. 50).

Pl. XCIV No. 1 (MS. L. 15b). External side view of Brunellesco’s
Florentine basilica San Lorenzo, seen from the North.

Pl. XCIV No. 4 (V. A. V, 1). Principal front of a nave, most likely
of a church on the plan of a Latin cross. We notice here not only
the principal features which were employed afterwards in Alberti’s
front of S. Maria Novella, but even details of a more advanced
style, such as we are accustomed to meet with only after the year

In the background of Leonardo’s unfinished picture of St. Jerome
(Vatican Gallery) a somewhat similar church front is indicated (see
the accompanying sketch).

[Illustration with caption: The view of the front of a temple,
apparently a dome in the centre of four corinthian porticos bearing
pediments (published by Amoretti Tav. II. B as being by Leonardo),
is taken from a drawing, now at the Ambrosian Gallery. We cannot
consider this to be by the hand of the master.]_

_C. Studies for a form of a Church most proper for preaching.

The problem as to what form of church might answer the requirements
of acoustics seems to have engaged Leonardo’s very particular
attention. The designation of_ “teatro” _given to some of these
sketches, clearly shows which plan seemed to him most favourable for
hearing the preacher’s voice.

Pl. XCVII, No. 1 (MS. B, 52). Rectangular edifice divided into three
naves with an apse on either side, terminated by a semicircular
theatre with rising seats, as in antique buildings. The pulpit is in
the centre. Leonardo has written on the left side of the sketch_:
“teatro da predicare” _(Theatre for preaching).

MS. B, 55a (see page 56, Fig. 1). A domed church after the type of
Pl. XCV, No. 1, shows four theatres occupying the apses and facing
the square_ “coro” (choir), which is in the centre between the four
pillars of the dome.[Footnote 1: The note
teatro de predicar, on
the right side is, I believe, in the handwriting of Pompeo Leoni. J.
P. R.] The rising arrangement of the seats is shown in the sketch
above. At the place marked
B Leonardo wrote teatri per uldire
messa (rows of seats to hear mass), at T teatri,_ and at_ C coro

In MS. C.A. 260, are slight sketches of two plans for rectangular
choirs and two elevations of the altar and pulpit which seem to be
in connection with these plans.

In MS. Ash II, 8a (see p. 56 and 57. Fig. 2 and 3)._ “Locho dove si
predica” _(Place for preaching). A most singular plan for a
building. The interior is a portion of a sphere, the centre of which
is the summit of a column destined to serve as the preacher’s
pulpit. The inside is somewhat like a modern theatre, whilst the
exterior and the galleries and stairs recall the ancient

[Illustration with caption: Page 57, Fig. 4. A plan accompanying the
two preceding drawings. If this gives the complete form Leonardo
intended for the edifice, it would have comprised only about two
thirds of the circle. Leonardo wrote in the centre_ “fondamento”, a
word he often employed for plans, and on the left side of the view
of the exterior:
locho dove si predicha (a place for preaching

_D. Design for a Mausoleum.

Pl. XCVIII (P. V., 182._ No. d’ordre 2386). In the midst of a hilly
landscape rises an artificial mountain in the form of a gigantic
cone, crowned by an imposing temple. At two thirds of the height a
terrace is cut out with six doorways forming entrances to galleries,
each leading to three sepulchral halls, so constructed as to contain
about five hundred funeral urns, disposed in the customary antique
style. From two opposite sides steps ascend to the terrace in a
single flight and beyond it to the temple above. A large circular
opening, like that in the Pantheon, is in the dome above what may be
the altar, or perhaps the central monument on the level of the
terrace below.

The section of a gallery given in the sketch to the right below
shows the roof to be constructed on the principle of superimposed
horizontal layers, projecting one beyond the other, and each
furnished with a sort of heel, which appears to be undercut, so as
to give the appearance of a beam from within. Granite alone would be
adequate to the dimensions here given to the key stone, as the
thickness of the layers can hardly be considered to be less than a
foot. In taking this as the basis of our calculation for the
dimensions of the whole construction, the width of the chamber would
be about 25 feet but, judging from the number of urns it
contains–and there is no reason to suppose that these urns were
larger than usual–it would seem to be no more than about 8 or 10

The construction of the vaults resembles those in the galleries of
some etruscan tumuli, for instance the Regulini Galeassi tomb at
Cervetri (lately discovered) and also that of the chamber and
passages of the pyramid of Cheops and of the treasury of Atreus at

The upper cone displays not only analogies with the monuments
mentioned in the note, but also with Etruscan tumuli, such as the
Cocumella tomb at Vulci, and the Regulini Galeassi tomb_[Footnote 1:
See FERSGUSON, Handbook of Architecture, I, 291.]. _The whole
scheme is one of the most magnificent in the history of

It would be difficult to decide as to whether any monument he had
seen suggested this idea to Leonardo, but it is worth while to
enquire, if any monument, or group of monuments of an earlier date
may be supposed to have done so.[Footnote 2: _There are, in
Algiers, two Monuments, commonly called
“Le Madracen” and “Le
tombeau de la Chretienne,” which somewhat resemble Leonardo’s
design. They are known to have served as the Mausolea of the Kings
of Mauritania. Pomponius Mela, the geographer of the time of the
Emperor Claudius, describes them as having been
“Monumentum commune
regiae gentis.” See Le Madracen, Rapport fait par M. le Grand
Rabbin AB. CAHEN, Constantine 1873–Memoire sur les fouilles
executees au Madras’en .. par le Colonel BRUNON, Constantine
l873.–Deux Mausolees Africains, le Madracen et le tombeau de la
Chretienne par M. J. DE LAURIERE, Tours l874.–Le tombeau de la
Chretienne, Mausolee des rois Mauritaniens par M. BERBRUGGER, Alger
1867.–I am indebted to M. LE BLANC, of the Institut, and M. LUD,
LALANNE, Bibliothecaire of the Institut for having first pointed out
to me the resemblance between these monuments; while M. ANT. HERON
DE VlLLEFOSSE of the Louvre was kind enough to place the
abovementioned rare works at my disposal. Leonardo’s observations on
the coast of Africa are given later in this work. The Herodium near
Bethlehem in Palestine
(Jebel el Fureidis, the Frank Mountain)
was, according to the latest researches, constructed on a very
similar plan. See
Der Frankenberg, von Baurath C. SCHICK in
Jerusalem, Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palastina-Vereins, Leipzag
1880, Vol. III, pages 88-99 and Plates IV and V. J. P. R.]

_E. Studies for the Central Tower, or Tiburio of Milan Cathedral.

Towards the end of the fifteenth century the Fabbricceria del Duomo
had to settle on the choice of a model for the crowning and central
part of this vast building. We learn from a notice published by G.
L. Calvi [Footnote: G. L. CALVI, Notizie sulla vita e sulle opere
dei principali architetti scultori e pittori che fiorirono in
Milano, Part III, 20. See also: H. DE GEYMULLER, Les projets
primitifs etc. I, 37 and 116-119.–The Fabbricceria of the Duomo has
lately begun the publication of the archives, which may possibly
tell us more about the part taken by Leonardo, than has hitherto
been known.] that among the artists who presented models in the year
1488 were: Bramante, Pietro da Gorgonzola, Luca Paperio (Fancelli),
and Leonardo da Vinci.–

Several sketches by Leonardo refer to this important project:

Pl. XCIX, No. 2 (MS. S. K. III, No. 36a) a small plan of the whole
edifice.–The projecting chapels in the middle of the transept are
wanting here. The nave appears to be shortened and seems to be
approached by an inner “vestibolo”.–

Pl. C, No. 2 (Tr. 21). Plan of the octagon tower, giving the
disposition of the buttresses; starting from the eight pillars
adjoining the four principal piers and intended to support the eight
angles of the Tiburio. These buttresses correspond exactly with
those described by Bramante as existing in the model presented by
Omodeo. [Footnote: Bramante’s opinion was first published by G.
MONGERl, Arch. stor. Lomb. V, fasc. 3 and afterwards by me in the
publication mentioned in the preceding note.]

Pl. C, 3 (MS. Tr. 16). Two plans showing different arrangements of
the buttresses, which seem to be formed partly by the intersection
of a system of pointed arches such as that seen in **

Pl. C, No. 5 (MS. B, 27a) destined to give a broader base to the
drum. The text underneath is given under No. 788.

MS. B, 3–three slight sketches of plans in connexion with the
preceding ones._

Pl. XCIX, No.1 (MS. Tr. 15) contains several small sketches of
sections and exterior views of the Dome; some of them show
buttress-walls shaped as inverted arches. Respecting these Leonardo


L’arco rivescio e migliore per fare spalla che l’ordinario, perche
il rovescio trova sotto se muro resistete alla sua debolezza, e
l’ordinario no trova nel suo debole se non aria

The inverted arch is better for giving a shoulder than the ordinary
one, because the former finds below it a wall resisting its
weakness, whilst the latter finds in its weak part nothing but air.

[Footnote: _Three slight sketches of sections on the same
leaf–above those reproduced here–are more closely connected with
the large drawing in the centre of Pl. C, No. 4 (M.S, Tr. 41) which
shows a section of a very elevated dome, with double vaults,
connected by ribs and buttresses ingeniously disposed, so as to
bring the weight of the lantern to bear on the base of the dome.

A sketch underneath it shows a round pillar on which is indicated
which part of its summit is to bear the weight: “il pilastro sara
charicho in . a . b.” (The column will bear the weight at a b.)
Another note is above on the right side:_ Larcho regiera tanto sotto
asse chome di sopra se _(The arch supports as much below it [i. e. a
hanging weight] as above it).

Pl. C, No. 1 (C. A. 303a). Larger sketch of half section of the
Dome, with a very complicated system of arches, and a double vault.
Each stone is shaped so as to be knit or dovetailed to its
neighbours. Thus the inside of the Dome cannot be seen from below.

MS. C. A. 303b. A repetition of the preceding sketch with very
slight modifications._]

[Figs. 1. and Fig. 2. two sketeches of the dome]

MS. Tr. 9 (see Fig. 1 and 2). Section of the Dome with reverted
buttresses between the windows, above which iron anchors or chains
seem to be intended. Below is the sketch of the outside._

_PI. XCIX, No. 3 (C. A., 262a) four sketches of the exterior of the

C. A. 12. Section, showing the points of rupture of a gothic vault,
in evident connection with the sketches described above.

It deserves to be noticed how easily and apparently without effort,
Leonardo manages to combine gothic details and structure with the
more modern shape of the Dome.

The following notes are on the same leaf,_ oni cosa poderosa, and
oni cosa poderosa desidera de(scendere); farther below, several
multiplications most likely intended to calculate the weight of some
parts of the Dome, thus 16 x 47 = 720; 720 x 800 = 176000, next to
which is written:
peso del pilastro di 9 teste _(weight of the
pillar 9 diameters high).

Below:_ 176000 x 8 = 1408000; and below:

Semjlio e se ce 80 (?) il peso del tiburio _(six millions six
hundred (?) 80 the weight of the Dome).

Bossi hazarded the theory that Leonardo might have been the
architect who built the church of Sta. Maria delle Grazie, but there
is no evidence to support this, either in documents or in the
materials supplied by Leonardos manuscripts and drawings. The sketch
given at the side shows the arrangement of the second and third
socle on the apses of the choir of that church; and it is remarkable
that those sketches, in MS. S. K. M. II2, 2a and Ib, occur with the
passage given in Volume I as No. 665 and 666 referring to the
composition of the Last Supper in the Refectory of that church._]

F. The Project for lifting up the Battistero of Florence and
setting it on a basement.

Among the very few details Vasari gives as to the architectural
studies of Leonardo, we read: “And among these models and designs
there was one by way of which he showed several times to many
ingenious citizens who then governed Florence, his readiness to lift
up without ruining it, the church of San Giovanni in Florence (the
Battistero, opposite the Duomo) in order to place under it the
missing basement with steps; he supported his assertions with
reasons so persuasive, that while he spoke the undertaking seemed
feasable, although every one of his hearers, when he had departed,
could see by himself the impossibility of so vast an undertaking.”

[Footnote: This latter statement of Vasari’s must be considered to
be exaggerated. I may refer here to some data given by
Histoire des sciences mathematiques en Italie (II, 216, 217): “On a
cru dans ces derniers temps faire un miracle en mecanique en
effectuant ce transport, et cependant des l’annee 1455, Gaspard Nadi
et Aristote de Fioravantio avaient transporte, a une distance
considerable, la tour de la Magione de Bologne, avec ses fondements,
qui avait presque quatre-vingts pieds de haut. Le continuateur de la
chronique de Pugliola dit que le trajet fut de 35 pieds et que
durant le transport auquel le chroniqueur affirme avoir assiste, il
arriva un accident grave qui fit pencher de trois pieds la tour
pendant qu’elle etait suspendue, mais que cet accident fut
promptement repare (Muratori, Scriptores rer. ital. Tom. XVIII, col.
717, 718). Alidosi a rapporte une note ou Nadi rend compte de ce
transport avec une rare simplicite. D’apres cette note, on voit que
les operations de ce genre n’etaient pas nouvelles. Celle-ci ne
couta que 150 livres (monnaie d’alors) y compris le cadeau que le
Legat fit aux deux mecaniciens. Dans la meme annee, Aristote
redressa le clocher de Cento, qui penchait de plus de cinq pieds
(Alidosi, instruttione p. 188– Muratori, Scriptores rer. ital.,
tom. XXIII, col. 888.–Bossii, chronica Mediol., 1492, in-fol. ad
ann. 1455). On ne concoit pas comment les historiens des beaux-arts
ont pu negliger de tels hommes.” J. P. R.]

In the MS. C. A. fol. 293, there are two sketches which possibly
might have a bearing on this bold enterprise. We find there a plan
of a circular or polygonal edifice surrounded by semicircular arches
in an oblique position. These may be taken for the foundation of the
steps and of the new platform. In the perspective elevation the same
edifice, forming a polygon, is shown as lifted up and resting on a
circle of inverted arches which rest on an other circle of arches in
the ordinary position, but so placed that the inverted arches above
rest on the spandrels of the lower range.

What seems to confirm the supposition that the lifting up of a
building is here in question, is the indication of engines for
winding up, such as jacks, and a rack and wheel. As the lifting
apparatus represented on this sheet does not seem particularly
applicable to an undertaking of such magnitude, we may consider it
to be a first sketch or scheme for the engines to be used.

G. Description of an unknown Temple.


Twelve flights of steps led up to the great temple, which was eight
hundred braccia in circumference and built on an octagonal plan. At
the eight corners were eight large plinths, one braccia and a half
high, and three wide, and six long at the bottom, with an angle in
the middle; on these were eight great pillars, standing on the
plinths as a foundation, and twenty four braccia high. And on the
top of these were eight capitals three braccia long and six wide,
above which were the architrave frieze and cornice, four braccia and
a half high, and this was carried on in a straight line from one
pillar to the next and so, continuing for eight hundred braccia,
surrounded the whole temple, from pillar to pillar. To support this
entablature there were ten large columns of the same height as the
pillars, three braccia thick above their bases which were one
braccia and a half high.

The ascent to this temple was by twelve flights of steps, and the
temple was on the twelfth, of an octagonal form, and at each angle
rose a large pillar; and between the pillars were placed ten columns
of the same height as the pillars, rising at once from the pavement
to a height of twenty eight braccia and a half; and at this height
the architrave, frieze and cornice were placed which surrounded the
temple having a length of eight hundred braccia. At the same height,
and within the temple at the same level, and all round the centre of
the temple at a distance of 24 braccia farther in, are pillars
corresponding to the eight pillars in the angles, and columns
corresponding to those placed in the outer spaces. These rise to the
same height as the former ones, and over these the continuous
architrave returns towards the outer row of pillars and columns.

[Footnote: Either this description is incomplete, or, as seems to me
highly probable, it refers to some ruin. The enormous dimensions
forbid our supposing this to be any temple in Italy or Greece. Syria
was the native land of colossal octagonal buildings, in the early
centuries A. D. The Temple of Baalbek, and others are even larger
than that here described. J. P. R.]

_V. Palace architecture.

But a small number of Leonardo’s drawings refer to the architecture
of palaces, and our knowledge is small as to what style Leonardo
might have adopted for such buildings.

Pl. CII No. 1 (W. XVIII). A small portion of a facade of a palace
in two stories, somewhat resembling Alberti’s Palazzo
Rucellai.–Compare with this Bramante’s painted front of the Casa
Silvestri, and a painting by Montorfano in San Pietro in Gessate at
Milan, third chapel on the left hand side and also with Bramante’s
palaces at Rome. The pilasters with arabesques, the rustica between
them, and the figures over the window may be painted or in
sgraffito. The original is drawn in red chalk.

Pl. LXXXI No. 1 (MS. Tr. 42). Sketch of a palace with battlements
and decorations, most likely graffiti; the details remind us of
those in the Castello at Vigevano._ [Footnote 1: Count GIULIO
PORRO, in his valuable contribution to the
Archivio Storico
Lombardo, Anno VIII, Fasc. IV (31 Dec. 1881): Leonardo da Vinci,
Libro di Annotazioni e Memorie, refers to this in the following
“Alla pag. 41 vi e uno schizzo di volta ed accanto scrisse:
‘il pilastro sara charicho in su 6’ e potrebbe darsi che si
riferisse alla cupola della chiesa delle Grazie tanto piu che a
pag. 42 vi e un disegno che rassomiglia assai al basamento che oggi
si vede nella parte esterna del coro di quella chiesa.” This may
however be doubted. The drawing, here referred to, on page 41 of the
same manuscript, is reproduced on Pl. C No. 4 and described on page
61 as being a study for the cupola of the Duomo of Milan.
J. P. R.]

_MS. Mz. 0″, contains a design for a palace or house with a loggia
in the middle of the first story, over which rises an attic with a
Pediment reproduced on page 67. The details drawn close by on the
left seem to indicate an arrangement of coupled columns against the
wall of a first story.

Pl. LXXXV No. 14 (MS. S. K. M. Ill 79a) contains a very slight
sketch in red chalk, which most probably is intended to represent
the facade of a palace. Inside is the short note 7 he 7 (7 and 7)._

MS. J2 8a (see pages 68 Fig. 1 and 2) contains a view of an unknown
palace. Its plan is indicated at the side.

In MS. Br. M. 126a(see Fig. 3 on page 68) there is a sketch of a
house, on which Leonardo notes; casa con tre terrazi (house with
three terraces).

Pl. CX, No. 4 (MS. L. 36b) represents the front of a fortified
building drawn at Cesena in 1502 (see No. 1040).

Here we may also mention the singular building in the allegorical
composition represented on Pl. LVIII in Vol. I. In front of it
appears the head of a sphinx or of a dragon which seems to be
carrying the palace away.

The following texts refer to the construction of palaces and other
buildings destined for private use:


In the courtyard the walls must be half the height of its width,
that is if the court be 40 braccia, the house must be 20 high as
regards the walls of the said courtyard; and this courtyard must be
half as wide as the whole front.

[Footnote: See Pl. CI, no. 1, and compare the dimensions here given,
with No. 748 lines 26-29; and the drawing belonging to it Pl. LXXXI,
no. 2.]

On the dispositions of a stable.



The manner in which one must arrange a stable. You must first divide
its width in 3 parts, its depth matters not; and let these 3
divisions be equal and 6 braccia broad for each part and 10 high,
and the middle part shall be for the use of the stablemasters; the 2
side ones for the horses, each of which must be 6 braccia in width
and 6 in length, and be half a braccio higher at the head than
behind. Let the manger be at 2 braccia from the ground, to the
bottom of the rack, 3 braccia, and the top of it 4 braccia. Now, in
order to attain to what I promise, that is to make this place,
contrary to the general custom, clean and neat: as to the upper part
of the stable, i. e. where the hay is, that part must have at its
outer end a window 6 braccia high and 6 broad, through which by
simple means the hay is brought up to the loft, as is shown by the
machine E; and let this be erected in a place 6 braccia wide, and
as long as the stable, as seen at k p. The other two parts, which
are on either side of this, are again divided; those nearest to the
hay-loft are 4 braccia, p s, and only for the use and circulation
of the servants belonging to the stable; the other two which reach
to the outer walls are 2 braccia, as seen at s k, and these are
made for the purpose of giving hay to the mangers, by means of
funnels, narrow at the top and wide over the manger, in order that
the hay should not choke them. They must be well plastered and clean
and are represented at 4 f s. As to the giving the horses water,
the troughs must be of stone and above them [cisterns of] water. The
mangers may be opened as boxes are uncovered by raising the lids.
[Footnote: See Pl. LXXVIII, No.1.]

Decorations for feasts.



The way in which the poles ought to be placed for tying bunches of
juniper on to them. These poles must lie close to the framework of
the vaulting and tie the bunches on with osier withes, so as to clip
them even afterwards with shears.

Let the distance from one circle to another be half a braccia; and
the juniper [sprigs] must lie top downwards, beginning from below.

Round this column tie four poles to which willows about as thick as
a finger must be nailed and then begin from the bottom and work
upwards with bunches of juniper sprigs, the tops downwards, that is
upside down. [Footnote: See Pl. CII, No. 3. The words here given as
the title line, lines 1–4, are the last in the original MS.–Lines
5–16 are written under fig. 4.]


The water should be allowed to fall from the whole circle a b.
[Footnote: Other drawings of fountains are given on Pl. CI (W. XX);
the original is a pen and ink drawing on blue paper; on Pl. CIII
(MS. B.) and Pl. LXXXII.]

VI. Studies of architectural details.

Several of Leonardo’s drawings of architectural details prove that,
like other great masters of that period, he had devoted his
attention to the study of the proportion of such details. As every
organic being in nature has its law of construction and growth,
these masters endeavoured, each in his way, to discover and prove a
law of proportion in architecture. The following notes in Leonardo’s
manuscripts refer to this subject.

MS. S. K. M. Ill, 47b (see Fig. 1). A diagram, indicating the rules
as given by Vitruvius and by Leon Battista Alberti for the
proportions of the Attic base of a column.

MS. S. K. M. Ill 55a (see Fig. 2). Diagram showing the same rules.


B toro superiore . . . . . toro superiore
2B nestroli . . . . . . astragali quadre
3B orbiculo . . . . . . . . troclea
4B nestroli . . . . . . astragali quadre
5B toro iferiore . . . . . . toro iferiore
6B latastro . . . . . . . . plintho

[Footnote: No explanation can be offered of the meaning of the
letter B, which precedes each name. It may be meant for basa
(base). Perhaps it refers to some author on architecture or an
architect (Bramante?) who employed the designations, thus marked for
the mouldings. 3. troclea. Philander: Trochlea sive trochalia aut
6. Laterculus or latastrum is the Latin name for
Plinthus (pi lambda Xiv) but Vitruvius adopted this Greek name
and “latastro” seems to have been little in use. It is to be found
besides the text given above, as far as I am aware, only two
drawings of the Uffizi Collection, where in one instance, it
indicates the abacus of a Doric capital.]



The plinth must be as broad as the thickness of the wall against
which the plinth is built. [Footnote: See Pl. CX No. 3. The hasty
sketch on the right hand side illustrates the unsatisfactory effect
produced when the plinth is narrower than the wall.]


The ancient architects …… beginning with the Egyptians (?) who,
as Diodorus Siculus writes, were the first to build and construct
large cities and castles, public and private buildings of fine form,
large and well proportioned …..

The column, which has its thickness at the third part …. The one
which would be thinnest in the middle, would break …; the one
which is of equal thickness and of equal strength, is better for the
edifice. The second best as to the usefulness will be the one whose
greatest thickness is where it joins with the base.

[Footnote: See Pl. CIII, No. 3, where the sketches belonging to
lines 10–16 are reproduced, but reversed. The sketch of columns,
here reproduced by a wood cut, stands in the original close to lines

The capital must be formed in this way. Divide its thickness at the
top into 8; at the foot make it 5/7, and let it be 5/7 high and you
will have a square; afterwards divide the height into 8 parts as you
did for the column, and then take 1/8 for the echinus and another
eighth for the thickness of the abacus on the top of the capital.
The horns of the abacus of the capital have to project beyond the
greatest width of the bell 2/7, i. e. sevenths of the top of the
bell, so 1/7 falls to the projection of each horn. The truncated
part of the horns must be as broad as it is high. I leave the rest,
that is the ornaments, to the taste of the sculptors. But to return
to the columns and in order to prove the reason of their strength or
weakness according to their shape, I say that when the lines
starting from the summit of the column and ending at its base and
their direction and length …, their distance apart or width may be
equal; I say that this column …


The cylinder of a body columnar in shape and its two opposite ends
are two circles enclosed between parallel lines, and through the
centre of the cylinder is a straight line, ending at the centre of
these circles, and called by the ancients the axis.

[Footnote: Leonardo wrote these lines on the margin of a page of the
Trattato di Francesco di Giorgio, where there are several drawings
of columns, as well as a head drawn in profile inside an outline
sketch of a capital.]


a b is 1/3 of n m; m o is 1/6 of r o. The ovolo projects 1/6
of r o; s 7 1/5 of r o, a b is divided into 9 1/2; the
abacus is 3/9 the ovolo 4/9, the bead-moulding and the fillet 2/9
and 1/2.

[Footnote: See Pl. LXXXV, No. 16. In the original the drawing and
writing are both in red chalk.]

Pl. LXXXV No. 6 (MS. Ash. II 6b) contains a small sketch of a
capital with the following note, written in three lines:
I chorni
del capitelo deono essere la quarta parte d’uno quadro (The horns
of a capital must measure the fourth part of a square).

MS. S. K. M. III 72b contains two sketches of ornamentations of

In MS. C. A. 308a; 938a (see Pl. LXXXII No. 1) there are several
sketches of columns. One of the two columns on the right is similar
to those employed by Bramante at the Canonica di S. Ambrogio. The
same columns appear in the sketch underneath the plan of a castle.
There they appear coupled, and in two stories one above the other.
The archivolls which seem to spring out of the columns, are shaped
like twisted cords, meant perhaps to be twisted branches. The walls
between the columns seem to be formed out of blocks of wood, the
pedestals are ornamented with a reticulated pattern. From all this
we may suppose that Leonardo here had in mind either some festive
decoration, or perhaps a pavilion for some hunting place or park.
The sketch of columns marked “35” gives an example of columns shaped
like candelabra, a form often employed at that time, particularly in
Milan, and the surrounding districts for instance in the Cortile di
Casa Castiglione now Silvestre, in the cathedral of Como, at Porta
della Rana &c.



An architrave of several pieces is stronger than that of one single
piece, if those pieces are placed with their length in the direction
of the centre of the world. This is proved because stones have their
grain or fibre generated in the contrary direction i. e. in the
direction of the opposite horizons of the hemisphere, and this is
contrary to fibres of the plants which have …

[Footnote: The text is incomplete in the original.]

_The Proportions of the stories of a building are indicated by a
sketch in MS. S. K. M. II2 11b (see Pl. LXXXV No. 15). The measures
are written on the left side, as follows: br 1 1/2–6 3/4–br
1/12–2 br–9 e 1/2–1 1/2–br 5–o 9–o 3 [br=braccia; o=oncie].

Pl. LXXXV No. 13 (MS. B. 62a) and Pl. XCIII No. 1. (MS. B. 15a) give
a few examples of arches supported on piers._


Theoretical writings on Architecture.

Leonardo’s original writings on the theory of Architecture have come
down to us only in a fragmentary state; still, there seems to be no
doubt that he himself did not complete them. It would seem that
Leonardo entertained the idea of writing a large and connected book
on Architecture; and it is quite evident that the materials we
possess, which can be proved to have been written at different
periods, were noted down with a more or less definite aim and
purpose. They might all be collected under the one title: “Studies
on the Strength of Materials”. Among them the investigations on the
subject of fissures in walls are particularly thorough, and very
fully reported; these passages are also especially interesting,
because Leonardo was certainly the first writer on architecture who
ever treated the subject at all. Here, as in all other cases
Leonardo carefully avoids all abstract argument. His data are not
derived from the principles of algebra, but from the laws of
mechanics, and his method throughout is strictly experimental.

Though the conclusions drawn from his investigations may not have
that precision which we are accustomed to find in Leonardo’s
scientific labours, their interest is not lessened. They prove at
any rate his deep sagacity and wonderfully clear mind. No one
perhaps, who has studied these questions since Leonardo, has
combined with a scientific mind anything like the artistic delicacy
of perception which gives interest and lucidity to his observations.

I do not assert that the arrangement here adopted for the passages
in question is that originally intended by Leonardo; but their
distribution into five groups was suggested by the titles, or
headings, which Leonardo himself prefixed to most of these notes.
Some of the longer sections perhaps should not, to be in strict
agreement with this division, have been reproduced in their entirety
in the place where they occur. But the comparatively small amount of
the materials we possess will render them, even so, sufficiently
intelligible to the reader; it did not therefore seem necessary or
desirable to subdivide the passages merely for the sake of strict

The small number of chapters given under the fifth class, treating
on the centre of gravity in roof-beams, bears no proportion to the
number of drawings and studies which refer to the same subject. Only
a small selection of these are reproduced in this work since the
majority have no explanatory text.




First write the treatise on the causes of the giving way of walls
and then, separately, treat of the remedies.

Parallel fissures constantly occur in buildings which are erected on
a hill side, when the hill is composed of stratified rocks with an
oblique stratification, because water and other moisture often
penetrates these oblique seams carrying in greasy and slippery soil;
and as the strata are not continuous down to the bottom of the
valley, the rocks slide in the direction of the slope, and the
motion does not cease till they have reached the bottom of the
valley, carrying with them, as though in a boat, that portion of the
building which is separated by them from the rest. The remedy for
this is always to build thick piers under the wall which is
slipping, with arches from one to another, and with a good scarp and
let the piers have a firm foundation in the strata so that they may
not break away from them.

In order to find the solid part of these strata, it is necessary to
make a shaft at the foot of the wall of great depth through the
strata; and in this shaft, on the side from which the hill slopes,
smooth and flatten a space one palm wide from the top to the bottom;
and after some time this smooth portion made on the side of the
shaft, will show plainly which part of the hill is moving.

[Footnote: See Pl. CIV.]


The cracks in walls will never be parallel unless the part of the
wall that separates from the remainder does not slip down.


The stability of buildings is the result of the contrary law to the
two former cases. That is to say that the walls must be all built up
equally, and by degrees, to equal heights all round the building,
and the whole thickness at once, whatever kind of walls they may be.
And although a thin wall dries more quickly than a thick one it will
not necessarily give way under the added weight day by day and thus,
[16] although a thin wall dries more quickly than a thick one, it
will not give way under the weight which the latter may acquire from
day to day. Because if double the amount of it dries in one day, one
of double the thickness will dry in two days or thereabouts; thus
the small addition of weight will be balanced by the smaller
difference of time [18].

The adversary says that a which projects, slips down.

And here the adversary says that r slips and not c.


The part of the wall which does not slip is that in which the
obliquity projects and overhangs the portion which has parted from
it and slipped down.


When the crevice in the wall is wider at the top than at the bottom,
it is a manifest sign, that the cause of the fissure in the wall is
remote from the perpendicular line through the crevice.

[Footnote: Lines 1-5 refer to Pl. CV, No. 2. Line 9 alle due
, see on the same page.

Lines 16-18. The translation of this is doubtful, and the meaning in
any case very obscure.

Lines 19-23 are on the right hand margin close to the two sketches
on Pl. CII, No. 3.]



That wall which does not dry uniformly in an equal time, always

A wall though of equal thickness will not dry with equal quickness
if it is not everywhere in contact with the same medium. Thus, if
one side of a wall were in contact with a damp slope and the other
were in contact with the air, then this latter side would remain of
the same size as before; that side which dries in the air will
shrink or diminish and the side which is kept damp will not dry. And
the dry portion will break away readily from the damp portion
because the damp part not shrinking in the same proportion does not
cohere and follow the movement of the part which dries continuously.


Arched cracks, wide at the top and narrow below are found in
walled-up doors, which shrink more in their height than in their
breadth, and in proportion as their height is greater than their
width, and as the joints of the mortar are more numerous in the
height than in the width.

The crack diminishes less in r o than in m n, in proportion as
there is less material between r and o than between n and m.

Any crack made in a concave wall is wide below and narrow at the
top; and this originates, as is here shown at b c d, in the side

  1. That which gets wet increases in proportion to the moisture it

  2. And a wet object shrinks, while drying, in proportion to the
    amount of moisture which evaporates from it.

[Footnote: The text of this passage is reproduced in facsimile on
Pl. CVI to the left. L. 36-40 are written inside the sketch No. 2.
L. 41-46 are partly written over the sketch No. 3 to which they



The walls give way in cracks, some of which are more or less
vertical and others are oblique. The cracks which are in a vertical
direction are caused by the joining of new walls, with old walls,
whether straight or with indentations fitting on to those of the old
wall; for, as these indentations cannot bear the too great weight of
the wall added on to them, it is inevitable that they should break,
and give way to the settling of the new wall, which will shrink one
braccia in every ten, more or less, according to the greater or
smaller quantity of mortar used between the stones of the masonry,
and whether this mortar is more or less liquid. And observe, that
the walls should always be built first and then faced with the
stones intended to face them. For, if you do not proceed thus, since
the wall settles more than the stone facing, the projections left on
the sides of the wall must inevitably give way; because the stones
used for facing the wall being larger than those over which they are
laid, they will necessarily have less mortar laid between the
joints, and consequently they settle less; and this cannot happen if
the facing is added after the wall is dry.

a b the new wall, c the old wall, which has already settled; and
the part a b settles afterwards, although a, being founded on
c, the old wall, cannot possibly break, having a stable foundation
on the old wall. But only the remainder b of the new wall will
break away, because it is built from top to bottom of the building;
and the remainder of the new wall will overhang the gap above the
wall that has sunk.


A new tower founded partly on old masonry.



Stones laid in regular courses from bottom to top and built up with
an equal quantity of mortar settle equally throughout, when the
moisture that made the mortar soft evaporates.

By what is said above it is proved that the small extent of the new
wall between A and n will settle but little, in proportion to
the extent of the same wall between c and d. The proportion will
in fact be that of the thinness of the mortar in relation to the
number of courses or to the quantity of mortar laid between the
stones above the different levels of the old wall.

[Footnote: See Pl. CV, No. 1. The top of the tower is wanting in
this reproduction, and with it the letter n which, in the
original, stands above the letter A over the top of the tower,
while c stands perpendicularly over d.]


This wall will break under the arch e f, because the seven whole
square bricks are not sufficient to sustain the spring of the arch
placed on them. And these seven bricks will give way in their middle
exactly as appears in a b. The reason is, that the brick a has
above it only the weight a k, whilst the last brick under the arch
has above it the weight c d x a.

c d seems to press on the arch towards the abutment at the point
p but the weight p o opposes resistence to it, whence the whole
pressure is transmitted to the root of the arch. Therefore the foot
of the arch acts like 7 6, which is more than double of x z.





An arch constructed on a semicircle and bearing weights on the two
opposite thirds of its curve will give way at five points of the
curve. To prove this let the weights be at n m which will break
the arch a, b, f. I say that, by the foregoing, as the
extremities c and a are equally pressed upon by the thrust n,
it follows, by the 5th, that the arch will give way at the point
which is furthest from the two forces acting on them and that is the
middle e. The same is to be understood of the opposite curve, d g
; hence the weights n m must sink, but they cannot sink by the
7th, without coming closer together, and they cannot come together
unless the extremities of the arch between them come closer, and if
these draw together the crown of the arch must break; and thus the
arch will give way in two places as was at first said &c.

I ask, given a weight at a what counteracts it in the direction
n f and by what weight must the weight at f be counteracted.



The window a is the cause of the crack at b; and this crack is
increased by the pressure of n and m which sink or penetrate
into the soil in which foundations are built more than the lighter
portion at b. Besides, the old foundation under b has already
settled, and this the piers n and m have not yet done. Hence the
part b does not settle down perpendicularly; on the contrary, it
is thrown outwards obliquely, and it cannot on the contrary be
thrown inwards, because a portion like this, separated from the main
wall, is larger outside than inside and the main wall, where it is
broken, is of the same shape and is also larger outside than inside;
therefore, if this separate portion were to fall inwards the larger
would have to pass through the smaller–which is impossible. Hence
it is evident that the portion of the semicircular wall when
disunited from the main wall will be thrust outwards, and not
inwards as the adversary says.

When a dome or a half-dome is crushed from above by an excess of
weight the vault will give way, forming a crack which diminishes
towards the top and is wide below, narrow on the inner side and wide
outside; as is the case with the outer husk of a pomegranate,
divided into many parts lengthwise; for the more it is pressed in
the direction of its length, that part of the joints will open most,
which is most distant from the cause of the pressure; and for that
reason the arches of the vaults of any apse should never be more
loaded than the arches of the principal building. Because that which
weighs most, presses most on the parts below, and they sink into the
foundations; but this cannot happen to lighter structures like the
said apses.

[Footnote: The figure on Pl. CV, No. 4 belongs to the first
paragraph of this passage, lines 1-14; fig. 5 is sketched by the
side of lines l5–and following. The sketch below of a pomegranate
refers to line 22. The drawing fig. 6 is, in the original, over line
37 and fig. 7 over line 54.]

Which of these two cubes will shrink the more uniformly: the cube
A resting on the pavement, or the cube b suspended in the air,
when both cubes are equal in weight and bulk, and of clay mixed with
equal quantities of water?

The cube placed on the pavement diminishes more in height than in
breadth, which the cube above, hanging in the air, cannot do. Thus
it is proved. The cube shown above is better shown here below.

The final result of the two cylinders of damp clay that is a and
b will be the pyramidal figures below c and d. This is proved
thus: The cylinder a resting on block of stone being made of clay
mixed with a great deal of water will sink by its weight, which
presses on its base, and in proportion as it settles and spreads all
the parts will be somewhat nearer to the base because that is
charged with the whole weight.





The arch is nothing else than a force originated by two weaknesses,
for the arch in buildings is composed of two segments of a circle,
each of which being very weak in itself tends to fall; but as each
opposes this tendency in the other, the two weaknesses combine to
form one strength.


As the arch is a composite force it remains in equilibrium because
the thrust is equal from both sides; and if one of the segments
weighs more than the other the stability is lost, because the
greater pressure will outweigh the lesser.


Next to giving the segments of the circle equal weight it is
necessary to load them equally, or you will fall into the same
defect as before.


An arch breaks at the part which lies below half way from the


If the excess of weight be placed in the middle of the arch at the
point a, that weight tends to fall towards b, and the arch
breaks at 2/3 of its height at c e; and g e is as many times
stronger than e a, as m o goes into m n.


The arch will likewise give way under a transversal thrust, for when
the charge is not thrown directly on the foot of the arch, the arch
lasts but a short time.



The way to give stability to the arch is to fill the spandrils with
good masonry up to the level of its summit.





An arch of small curve is safe in itself, but if it be heavily
charged, it is necessary to strengthen the flanks well. An arch of a
very large curve is weak in itself, and stronger if it be charged,
and will do little harm to its abutments, and its places of giving
way are o p.

[Footnote: Inside the large figure on the righi is the note: Da
pesare la forza dell’ archo



The arch which throws its pressure perpendicularly on the abutments
will fulfil its function whatever be its direction, upside down,
sideways or upright.

The arch will not break if the chord of the outer arch does not
touch the inner arch. This is manifest by experience, because
whenever the chord a o n of the outer arch n r a approaches the
inner arch x b y the arch will be weak, and it will be weaker in
proportion as the inner arch passes beyond that chord. When an arch
is loaded only on one side the thrust will press on the top of the
other side and be transmitted to the spring of the arch on that
side; and it will break at a point half way between its two
extremes, where it is farthest from the chord.


A continuous body which has been forcibly bent into an arch, thrusts
in the direction of the straight line, which it tends to recover.


In an arch judiciously weighted the thrust is oblique, so that the
triangle c n b has no weight upon it.


I here ask what weight will be needed to counterpoise and resist the
tendency of each of these arches to give way?

[Footnote: The two lower sketches are taken from the MS. S. K. M.
III, 10a; they have there no explanatory text.]



The stability of the arch built by an architect resides in the tie
and in the flanks.


The position of the tie is of the same importance at the beginning
of the arch and at the top of the perpendicular pier on which it
rests. This is proved by the 2nd “of supports” which says: that part
of a support has least resistance which is farthest from its solid
attachment; hence, as the top of the pier is farthest from the
middle of its true foundation and the same being the case at the
opposite extremities of the arch which are the points farthest from
the middle, which is really its [upper] attachment, we have
concluded that the tie a b requires to be in such a position as
that its opposite ends are between the four above-mentioned

The adversary says that this arch must be more than half a circle,
and that then it will not need a tie, because then the ends will not
thrust outwards but inwards, as is seen in the excess at a c, b
. To this it must be answered that this would be a very poor
device, for three reasons. The first refers to the strength of the
arch, since it is proved that the circular parallel being composed
of two semicircles will only break where these semicircles cross
each other, as is seen in the figure n m; besides this it follows
that there is a wider space between the extremes of the semicircle
than between the plane of the walls; the third reason is that the
weight placed to counterbalance the strength of the arch diminishes
in proportion as the piers of the arch are wider than the space
between the piers. Fourthly in proportion as the parts at c a b d
turn outwards, the piers are weaker to support the arch above them.
The 5th is that all the material and weight of the arch which are in
excess of the semicircle are useless and indeed mischievous; and
here it is to be noted that the weight placed above the arch will be
more likely to break the arch at a b, where the curve of the
excess begins that is added to the semicircle, than if the pier were
straight up to its junction with the semicircle [spring of the


This is proved by the 7th of this which says: The opposite ends of
the support are equally pressed upon by the weight suspended to
them; hence the weight shown at f is felt at b c, that is half
at each extremity; and by the third which says: in a support of
equal strength [throughout] that portion will give way soonest which
is farthest from its attachment; whence it follows that d being
equally distant from f, e …..

If the centering of the arch does not settle as the arch settles,
the mortar, as it dries, will shrink and detach itself from the
bricks between which it was laid to keep them together; and as it
thus leaves them disjoined the vault will remain loosely built, and
the rains will soon destroy it.



That part of the arch which is nearer to the horizontal offers least
resistance to the weight placed on it.

When the triangle a z n, by settling, drives backwards the 2/3 of
each 1/2 circle that is a s and in the same way z m, the reason
is that a is perpendicularly over b and so likewise z is above

Either half of an arch, if overweighted, will break at 2/3 of its
height, the point which corresponds to the perpendicular line above
the middle of its bases, as is seen at a b; and this happens
because the weight tends to fall past the point r.–And if,
against its nature it should tend to fall towards the point s the
arch n s would break precisely in its middle. If the arch n s
were of a single piece of timber, if the weight placed at n should
tend to fall in the line n m, the arch would break in the middle
of the arch e m, otherwise it will break at one third from the top
at the point a because from a to n the arch is nearer to the
horizontal than from a to o and from o to s, in proportion
as p t is greater than t n, a o will be stronger than a n
and likewise in proportion as s o is stronger than o a, r p
will be greater than p t.

The arch which is doubled to four times of its thickness will bear
four times the weight that the single arch could carry, and more in
proportion as the diameter of its thickness goes a smaller number of
times into its length. That is to say that if the thickness of the
single arch goes ten times into its length, the thickness of the
doubled arch will go five times into its length. Hence as the
thickness of the double arch goes only half as many times into its
length as that of the single arch does, it is reasonable that it
should carry half as much more weight as it would have to carry if
it were in direct proportion to the single arch. Hence as this
double arch has 4 times the thickness of the single arch, it would
seem that it ought to bear 4 times the weight; but by the above rule
it is shown that it will bear exactly 8 times as much.


The column c b, being charged with an equal weight, [on each side]
will be most durable, and the other two outward columns require on
the part outside of their centre as much pressure as there is inside
of their centre, that is, from the centre of the column, towards the
middle of the arch.

Arches which depend on chains for their support will not be very


The arch itself tends to fall. If the arch be 30 braccia and the
interval between the walls which carry it be 20, we know that 30
cannot pass through the 20 unless 20 becomes likewise 30. Hence the
arch being crushed by the excess of weight, and the walls offering
insufficient resistance, part, and afford room between them, for the
fall of the arch.

But if you do not wish to strengthen the arch with an iron tie you
must give it such abutments as can resist the thrust; and you can do
this thus: fill up the spandrels m n with stones, and direct the
lines of the joints between them to the centre of the circle of the
arch, and the reason why this makes the arch durable is this. We
know very well that if the arch is loaded with an excess of weight
above its quarter as a b, the wall f g will be thrust outwards
because the arch would yield in that direction; if the other quarter
b c were loaded, the wall f g would be thrust inwards, if it
were not for the line of stones x y which resists this.



Here it is shown how the arches made in the side of the octagon
thrust the piers of the angles outwards, as is shown by the line h
and by the line t d which thrust out the pier m; that is they
tend to force it away from the centre of such an octagon.


An Experiment to show that a weight placed on an arch does not
discharge itself entirely on its columns; on the contrary the
greater the weight placed on the arches, the less the arch transmits
the weight to the columns. The experiment is the following. Let a
man be placed on a steel yard in the middle of the shaft of a well,
then let him spread out his hands and feet between the walls of the
well, and you will see him weigh much less on the steel yard; give
him a weight on the shoulders, you will see by experiment, that the
greater the weight you give him the greater effort he will make in
spreading his arms and legs, and in pressing against the wall and
the less weight will be thrown on the steel yard.




The first and most important thing is stability.

As to the foundations of the component parts of temples and other
public buildings, the depths of the foundations must bear the same
proportions to each other as the weight of material which is to be
placed upon them.

Every part of the depth of earth in a given space is composed of
layers, and each layer is composed of heavier or lighter materials,
the lowest being the heaviest. And this can be proved, because these
layers have been formed by the sediment from water carried down to
the sea, by the current of rivers which flow into it. The heaviest
part of this sediment was that which was first thrown down, and so
on by degrees; and this is the action of water when it becomes
stagnant, having first brought down the mud whence it first flowed.
And such layers of soil are seen in the banks of rivers, where their
constant flow has cut through them and divided one slope from the
other to a great depth; where in gravelly strata the waters have run
off, the materials have, in consequence, dried and been converted
into hard stone, and this happened most in what was the finest mud;
whence we conclude that every portion of the surface of the earth
was once at the centre of the earth, and vice_versa &c.


The heaviest part of the foundations of buildings settles most, and
leaves the lighter part above it separated from it.

And the soil which is most pressed, if it be porous yields most.

You should always make the foundations project equally beyond the
weight of the walls and piers, as shown at m a b. If you do as
many do, that is to say if you make a foundation of equal width from
the bottom up to the surface of the ground, and charge it above with
unequal weights, as shown at b e and at e o, at the part of the
foundation at b e, the pier of the angle will weigh most and
thrust its foundation downwards, which the wall at e o will not
do; since it does not cover the whole of its foundation, and
therefore thrusts less heavily and settles less. Hence, the pier b
in settling cracks and parts from the wall e o. This may be
seen in most buildings which are cracked round the piers.


The window a is well placed under the window c, and the window
b is badly placed under the pier d, because this latter is
without support and foundation; mind therefore never to make a break
under the piers between the windows.



A pillar of which the thickness is increased will gain more than its
due strength, in direct proportion to what its loses in relative


If a pillar should be nine times as high as it is broad–that is to
say, if it is one braccio thick, according to rule it should be nine
braccia high–then, if you place 100 such pillars together in a mass
this will be ten braccia broad and 9 high; and if the first pillar
could carry 10000 pounds the second being only about as high as it
is wide, and thus lacking 8 parts of its proper length, it, that is
to say, each pillar thus united, will bear eight times more than
when disconnected; that is to say, that if at first it would carry
ten thousand pounds, it would now carry 90 thousand.




That angle will offer the greatest resistance which is most acute,
and the most obtuse will be the weakest.

[Footnote: The three smaller sketches accompany the text in the
original, but the larger one is not directly connected with it. It
is to be found on fol. 89a of the same Manuscript and there we read
in a note, written underneath, coverchio della perdicha del
(roof of the flagstaff of the castle),–Compare also Pl.
XCIII, No. 1.]


If the beams and the weight o are 100 pounds, how much weight will
be wanted at ae to resist such a weight, that it may not fall



That beam which is more than 20 times as long as its greatest
thickness will be of brief duration and will break in half; and
remember, that the part built into the wall should be steeped in hot
pitch and filleted with oak boards likewise so steeped. Each beam
must pass through its walls and be secured beyond the walls with
sufficient chaining, because in consequence of earthquakes the beams
are often seen to come out of the walls and bring down the walls and
floors; whilst if they are chained they will hold the walls strongly
together and the walls will hold the floors. Again I remind you
never to put plaster over timber. Since by expansion and shrinking
of the timber produced by damp and dryness such floors often crack,
and once cracked their divisions gradually produce dust and an ugly
effect. Again remember not to lay a floor on beams supported on
arches; for, in time the floor which is made on beams settles
somewhat in the middle while that part of the floor which rests on
the arches remains in its place; hence, floors laid over two kinds
of supports look, in time, as if they were made in hills [Footnote:
19 M. RAVAISSON, in his edition of MS. A gives a very different
rendering of this passage translating it thus: Les planchers qui
sont soutenus par deux differentes natures de supports paraissent
avec le temps faits en voute a cholli

Remarks on the style of Leonardo’s architecture.

A few remarks may here be added on the style of Leonardo’s
architectural studies. However incomplete, however small in scale,
they allow us to establish a certain number of facts and
probabilities, well worthy of consideration.

When Leonardo began his studies the great name of Brunellesco was
still the inspiration of all Florence, and we cannot doubt that
Leonardo was open to it, since we find among his sketches the plan
of the church of Santo Spirito[Footnote 1: See Pl. XCIV, No. 2. Then
only in course of erection after the designs of Brunellesco, though
he was already dead; finished in 1481.] and a lateral view of San
Lorenzo (Pl. XCIV No. 1), a plan almost identical with the chapel
Degli Angeli, only begun by him (Pl. XCIV, No. 3) while among
Leonardo’s designs for domes several clearly betray the influence of
Brunellesco’s Cupola and the lantern of Santa Maria del
Fiore[Footnote 2: A small sketch of the tower of the Palazzo della
Signoria (MS. C.A. 309) proves that he also studied mediaeval

The beginning of the second period of modern Italian architecture
falls during the first twenty years of Leonardo’s life. However the
new impetus given by Leon Battista Alberti either was not generally
understood by his contemporaries, or those who appreciated it, had
no opportunity of showing that they did so. It was only when taken
up by Bramante and developed by him to the highest rank of modern
architecture that this new influence was generally felt. Now the
peculiar feature of Leonardo’s sketches is that, like the works of
Bramante, they appear to be the development and continuation of

_But a question here occurs which is difficult to answer. Did
Leonardo, till he quitted Florence, follow the direction given by
the dominant school of Brunellesco, which would then have given rise
to his “First manner”, or had he, even before he left Florence, felt
Alberti’s influence–either through his works (Palazzo Ruccellai,
and the front of Santa Maria Novella) or through personal
intercourse? Or was it not till he went to Milan that Alberti’s work
began to impress him through Bramante, who probably had known
Alberti at Mantua about 1470 and who not only carried out Alberti’s
views and ideas, but, by his designs for St. Peter’s at Rome, proved
himself the greatest of modern architects. When Leonardo went to
Milan Bramante had already been living there for many years. One of
his earliest works in Milan was the church of Santa Maria presso San
Satiro, Via del Falcone[Footnote 1: Evidence of this I intend to
give later on in a Life of Bramante, which I have in preparation.].

Now we find among Leonardos studies of Cupolas on Plates LXXXIV and
LXXXV and in Pl. LXXX several sketches which seem to me to have been
suggested by Bramante’s dome of this church.

The MSS. B and Ash. II contain the plans of S. Sepolcro, the
pavilion in the garden of the duke of Milan, and two churches,
evidently inspired by the church of San Lorenzo at Milan.

MS. B. contains besides two notes relating to Pavia, one of them a
design for the sacristy of the Cathedral at Pavia, which cannot be
supposed to be dated later than 1492, and it has probably some
relation to Leonardo’s call to Pavia June 21, 1490[Footnote 2: The
sketch of the plan of Brunellesco’s church of Santo Spirito at
Florence, which occurs in the same Manuscript, may have been done
from memory.]. These and other considerations justify us in
concluding, that Leonardo made his studies of cupolas at Milan,
probably between the years 1487 and 1492 in anticipation of the
erection of one of the grandest churches of Italy, the Cathedral of
Pavia. This may explain the decidedly Lombardo-Bramantesque tendency
in the style of these studies, among which only a few remind us of
the forms of the cupolas of S. Maria del Fiore and of the Baptistery
of Florence. Thus, although when compared with Bramante’s work,
several of these sketches plainly reveal that master’s influence, we
find, among the sketches of domes, some, which show already
Bramante’s classic style, of which the Tempietto of San Pietro in
Montorio, his first building executed at Rome, is the foremost
example[Footnote 3: It may be mentioned here, that in 1494 Bramante
made a similar design for the lantern of the Cupola of the Church of
Santa Maria delle Grazie.].

On Plate LXXXIV is a sketch of the plan of a similar circular
building; and the Mausoleum on Pl. XCVIII, no less than one of the
pedestals for the statue of Francesco Sforza (Pl. LXV), is of the
same type.

The drawings Pl. LXXXIV No. 2, Pl. LXXXVI No. 1 and 2 and the ground
flour (“flour” sic but should be “floor” ?) of the building in the
drawing Pl. XCI No. 2, with the interesting decoration by gigantic
statues in large niches, are also, I believe, more in the style
Bramante adopted at Rome, than in the Lombard style. Are we to
conclude from this that Leonardo on his part influenced Bramante in
the sense of simplifying his style and rendering it more congenial
to antique art? The answer to this important question seems at first
difficult to give, for we are here in presence of Bramante, the
greatest of modern architects, and with Leonardo, the man comparable
with no other. We have no knowledge of any buildings erected by
Leonardo, and unless we admit personal intercourse–which seems
probable, but of which there is no proof–, it would be difficult to
understand how Leonardo could have affected Bramante’s style. The
converse is more easily to be admitted, since Bramante, as we have
proved elsewhere, drew and built simultaneously in different
manners, and though in Lombardy there is no building by him in his
classic style, the use of brick for building, in that part of Italy,
may easily account for it._

Bramante’s name is incidentally mentioned in Leonardo’s manuscripts
in two passages (Nos. 1414 and 1448). On each occasion it is only a
slight passing allusion, and the nature of the context gives us no
due information as to any close connection between the two artists.

It might be supposed, on the ground of Leonardo’s relations with
the East given in sections XVII and XXI of this volume, that some
evidence of oriental influence might be detected in his
architectural drawings. I do not however think that any such traces
can be pointed out with certainty unless perhaps the drawing for a
Mausoleum, Pl. XC VIII.

Among several studies for the construction of cupolas above a Greek
cross there are some in which the forms are decidedly monotonous.
These, it is clear, were not designed as models of taste; they must
be regarded as the results of certain investigations into the laws
of proportion, harmony and contrast.

The designs for churches, on the plan of a Latin cross are
evidently intended to depart as little as possible from the form of
a Greek cross; and they also show a preference for a nave surrounded
with outer porticos.

The architectural forms preferred by Leonardo are pilasters coupled
(Pl. LXXXII No. 1; or grouped (Pl. LXXX No. 5 and XCIV No. 4), often
combined with niches. We often meet with orders superposed, one in
each story, or two small orders on one story, in combination with
one great order (Pl. XCVI No. 2).

The drum (tamburo) of these cupolas is generally octagonal, as in
the cathedral of Florence, and with similar round windows in its
sides. In Pl. LXXXVII No. 2 it is circular like the model actually
carried out by Michael Angelo at St. Peter’s.

The cupola itself is either hidden under a pyramidal roof, as in the
Baptistery of Florence, San Lorenzo of Milan and most of the Lombard
churches (Pl. XCI No. 1 and Pl. XCII No. 1); but it more generally
suggests the curve of Sta Maria del Fiore (Pl. LXXXVIII No. 5; Pl.
XC No. 2; Pl. LXXXIX, M; Pl XC No. 4, Pl. XCVI No. 2). In other
cases (Pl. LXXX No. 4; Pl. LXXXIX; Pl. XC No. 2) it shows the sides
of the octagon crowned by semicircular pediments, as in
Brunellesco’s lantern of the Cathedral and in the model for the
Cathedral of Pavia.

Finally, in some sketches the cupola is either semicircular, or as
in Pl. LXXXVII No. 2, shows the beautiful line, adopted sixty years
later by Michael Angelo for the existing dome of St. Peter’s.

It is worth noticing that for all these domes Leonardo is not
satisfied to decorate the exterior merely with ascending ribs or
mouldings, but employs also a system of horizontal parallels to
complete the architectural system. Not the least interesting are the
designs for the tiburio (cupola) of the Milan Cathedral. They show
some of the forms, just mentioned, adapted to the peculiar gothic
style of that monument.

The few examples of interiors of churches recall the style employed
in Lombardy by Bramante, for instance in S. Maria di Canepanuova at
Pavia, or by Dolcebuono in the Monastero Maggiore at Milan (see Pl.
CI No. 1 [C. A. 181b; 546b]; Pl. LXXXIV No. 10).

The few indications concerning palaces seem to prove that Leonardo
followed Alberti’s example of decorating the walls with pilasters
and a flat rustica, either in stone or by graffitti (Pl. CII No. 1
and Pl. LXXXV No. 14).

By pointing out the analogies between Leonardo’s architecture and
that of other masters we in no way pretend to depreciate his
individual and original inventive power. These are at all events
beyond dispute. The project for the Mausoleum (Pl. XCVIII) would
alone suffice to rank him among the greatest architects who ever
lived. The peculiar shape of the tower (Pl. LXXX), of the churches
for preaching (Pl. XCVII No. 1 and pages 56 and 57, Fig. 1-4), his
curious plan for a city with high and low level streets (Pl. LXXVII
and LXXVIII No. 2 and No. 3), his Loggia with fountains (Pl. LXXXII
No. 4) reveal an originality, a power and facility of invention for
almost any given problem, which are quite wonderful.

In addition to all these qualities he propably stood alone in his
day in one department of architectural study,–his investigations,
namely, as to the resistance of vaults, foundations, walls and

As an application of these studies the plan of a semicircular vault
(Pl. CIII No. 2) may be mentioned here, disposed so as to produce no
thrust on the columns on which it rests:
volta i botte e non
ispignie ifori le colone. Above the geometrical patterns on the
same sheet, close to a circle inscribed in a square is the note:
ragio d’una volta cioe il terzo del diamitro della sua … del
tedesco in domo.

There are few data by which to judge of Leonardo’s style in the
treatment of detail. On Pl. LXXXV No. 10 and Pl. CIII No. 3, we find
some details of pillars; on Pl. CI No. 3 slender pillars designed
for a fountain and on Pl. CIII No. 1 MS. B, is a pen and ink drawing
of a vase which also seems intended for a fountain. Three handles
seem to have been intended to connect the upper parts with the base.
There can be no doubt that Leonardo, like Bramante, but unlike
Michael Angelo, brought infinite delicacy of motive and execution to
bear on the details of his work.


Anatomy, Zoology and Physiology.

Leonardo’s eminent place in the history of medicine, as a pioneer
in the sciences of Anatomy and Physiology, will never be appreciated
till it is possible to publish the mass of manuscripts in which he
largely treated of these two branches of learning. In the present
work I must necessarily limit myself to giving the reader a general
view of these labours, by publishing his introductory notes to the
various books on anatomical subjects. I have added some extracts,
and such observations as are scattered incidentally through these
treatises, as serving to throw a light on Leonardo’s scientific
attitude, besides having an interest for a wider circle than that of
specialists only.

VASARI expressly mentions Leonardo’s anatomical studies, having had
occasion to examine the manuscript books which refer to them.
According to him Leonardo studied Anatomy in the companionship of
Marc Antonio della Torre
“aiutato e scambievolmente
aiutando.”–This learned Anatomist taught the science in the
universities first of Padua and then of Pavia, and at Pavia he and
Leonardo may have worked and studied together. We have no clue to
any exact dates, but in the year 1506 Marc Antonio della Torre seems
to have not yet left Padua. He was scarcely thirty years old when he
died in 1512, and his writings on anatomy have not only never been
published, but no manuscript copy of them is known to exist.

This is not the place to enlarge on the connection between Leonardo
and Marc Antonio della Torre. I may however observe that I have not
been able to discover in Leonardo’s manuscripts on anatomy any
mention of his younger contemporary. The few quotations which occur
from writers on medicine–either of antiquity or of the middle ages
are printed in Section XXII. Here and there in the manuscripts
mention is made of an anonymous “adversary”
(avversario) whose
views are opposed and refuted by Leonardo, but there is no ground
for supposing that Marc Antonio della Torre should have been this

_Only a very small selection from the mass of anatomical drawings
left by Leonardo have been published here in facsimile, but to form
any adequate idea of their scientific merit they should be compared
with the coarse and inadequate figures given in the published books
of the early part of the XVI. century.

William Hunter, the great surgeon–a competent judge–who had an
opportunity in the time of George III. of seeing the originals in
the King’s Library, has thus recorded his opinion: “I expected to
see little more than such designs in Anatomy as might be useful to a
painter in his own profession. But I saw, and indeed with
astonishment, that Leonardo had been a general and deep student.
When I consider what pains he has taken upon every part of the body,
the superiority of his universal genius, his particular excellence
in mechanics and hydraulics, and the attention with which such a man
would examine and see objects which he has to draw, I am fully
persuaded that Leonardo was the best Anatomist, at that time, in the
world … Leonardo was certainly the first man, we know of, who
introduced the practice of making anatomical drawings” (Two
introductory letters. London 1784, pages 37 and 39).

The illustrious German Naturalist Johan Friedrich Blumenback
esteemed them no less highly; he was one of the privileged few who,
after Hunter, had the chance of seeing these Manuscripts. He writes:
Der Scharfblick dieses grossen Forschers und Darstellers der Natur
hat schon auf Dinge geachtet, die noch Jahrhunderte nachher
unbemerkt geblieben sind
” (see Blumenbach’s medicinische
, Vol. 3, St. 4, 1795. page 728).

These opinions were founded on the drawings alone. Up to the present
day hardly anything has been made known of the text, and, for the
reasons I have given, it is my intention to reproduce here no more
than a selection of extracts which I have made from the originals at
Windsor Castle and elsewhere. In the Bibliography of the
Manuscripts, at the end of this volume a short review is given of
the valuable contents of these Anatomical note books which are at
present almost all in the possession of her Majesty the Queen of
England. It is, I believe, possible to assign the date with
approximate accuracy to almost all the fragments, and I am thus led
to conclude that the greater part of Leonardo’s anatomical
investigations were carried out after the death of della Torre.

Merely in reading the introductory notes to his various books on
Anatomy which are here printed it is impossible to resist the
impression that the Master’s anatomical studies bear to a very great
extent the stamp of originality and independent thought.




A general introduction

I wish to work miracles;–it may be that I shall possess less than
other men of more peaceful lives, or than those who want to grow
rich in a day. I may live for a long time in great poverty, as
always happens, and to all eternity will happen, to alchemists, the
would-be creators of gold and silver, and to engineers who would
have dead water stir itself into life and perpetual motion, and to
those supreme fools, the necromancer and the enchanter.

[Footnote 23: The following seems to be directed against students of
painting and young artists rather than against medical men and

And you, who say that it would be better to watch an anatomist at
work than to see these drawings, you would be right, if it were
possible to observe all the things which are demonstrated in such
drawings in a single figure, in which you, with all your cleverness,
will not see nor obtain knowledge of more than some few veins, to
obtain a true and perfect knowledge of which I have dissected more
than ten human bodies, destroying all the other members, and
removing the very minutest particles of the flesh by which these
veins are surrounded, without causing them to bleed, excepting the
insensible bleeding of the capillary veins; and as one single body
would not last so long, since it was necessary to proceed with
several bodies by degrees, until I came to an end and had a complete
knowledge; this I repeated twice, to learn the differences [59].

[Footnote: Lines 1-59 and 60-89 are written in two parallel columns.
When we here find Leonardo putting himself in the same category as
the Alchemists and Necromancers, whom he elsewhere mocks at so
bitterly, it is evidently meant ironically. In the same way
Leonardo, in the introduction to the Books on Perspective sets
himself with transparent satire on a level with other writers on the

And if you should have a love for such things you might be prevented
by loathing, and if that did not prevent you, you might be deterred
by the fear of living in the night hours in the company of those
corpses, quartered and flayed and horrible to see. And if this did
not prevent you, perhaps you might not be able to draw so well as is
necessary for such a demonstration; or, if you had the skill in
drawing, it might not be combined with knowledge of perspective; and
if it were so, you might not understand the methods of geometrical
demonstration and the method of the calculation of forces and of the
strength of the muscles; patience also may be wanting, so that you
lack perseverance. As to whether all these things were found in me
or not [Footnote 84: Leonardo frequently, and perhaps habitually,
wrote in note books of a very small size and only moderately thick;
in most of those which have been preserved undivided, each contains
less than fifty leaves. Thus a considerable number of such volumes
must have gone to make up a volume of the bulk of the ‘Codex
‘ which now contains nearly 1200 detached leaves. In the
passage under consideration, which was evidently written at a late
period of his life, Leonardo speaks of his Manuscript note-books as
numbering 12O; but we should hardly be justified in concluding from
this passage that the greater part of his Manuscripts were now
missing (see Prolegomena, Vol. I, pp. 5-7).], the hundred and
twenty books composed by me will give verdict Yes or No. In these I
have been hindered neither by avarice nor negligence, but simply by
want of time. Farewell [89].

Plans and suggestions for the arrangement of materials (797-802).



This work must begin with the conception of man, and describe the
nature of the womb and how the foetus lives in it, up to what stage
it resides there, and in what way it quickens into life and feeds.
Also its growth and what interval there is between one stage of
growth and another. What it is that forces it out from the body of
the mother, and for what reasons it sometimes comes out of the
mother’s womb before the due time.

Then I will describe which are the members, which, after the boy is
born, grow more than the others, and determine the proportions of a
boy of one year.

Then describe the fully grown man and woman, with their proportions,
and the nature of their complexions, colour, and physiognomy.

Then how they are composed of veins, tendons, muscles and bones.
This I shall do at the end of the book. Then, in four drawings,
represent four universal conditions of men. That is, Mirth, with
various acts of laughter, and describe the cause of laughter.
Weeping in various aspects with its causes. Contention, with various
acts of killing; flight, fear, ferocity, boldness, murder and every
thing pertaining to such cases. Then represent Labour, with pulling,
thrusting, carrying, stopping, supporting and such like things.

Further I would describe attitudes and movements. Then perspective,
concerning the functions and effects of the eye; and of
hearing–here I will speak of music–, and treat of the other

And then describe the nature of the senses.

This mechanism of man we will demonstrate in … figures; of which
the three first will show the ramification of the bones; that is:
first one to show their height and position and shape: the second
will be seen in profile and will show the depth of the whole and of
the parts, and their position. The third figure will be a
demonstration of the bones of the backparts. Then I will make three
other figures from the same point of view, with the bones sawn
across, in which will be shown their thickness and hollowness. Three
other figures of the bones complete, and of the nerves which rise
from the nape of the neck, and in what limbs they ramify. And three
others of the bones and veins, and where they ramify. Then three
figures with the muscles and three with the skin, and their proper
proportions; and three of woman, to illustrate the womb and the
menstrual veins which go to the breasts.

[Footnote: The meaning of the word nervo varies in different
passages, being sometimes used for muscolo (muscle).]



This depicting of mine of the human body will be as clear to you as
if you had the natural man before you; and the reason is that if you
wish thoroughly to know the parts of man, anatomically, you–or your
eye–require to see it from different aspects, considering it from
below and from above and from its sides, turning it about and
seeking the origin of each member; and in this way the natural
anatomy is sufficient for your comprehension. But you must
understand that this amount of knowledge will not continue to
satisfy you; seeing the very great confusion that must result from
the combination of tissues, with veins, arteries, nerves, sinews,
muscles, bones, and blood which, of itself, tinges every part the
same colour. And the veins, which discharge this blood, are not
discerned by reason of their smallness. Moreover integrity of the
tissues, in the process of the investigating the parts within them,
is inevitably destroyed, and their transparent substance being
tinged with blood does not allow you to recognise the parts covered
by them, from the similarity of their blood-stained hue; and you
cannot know everything of the one without confusing and destroying
the other. Hence, some further anatomy drawings become necessary. Of
which you want three to give full knowledge of the veins and
arteries, everything else being destroyed with the greatest care.
And three others to display the tissues; and three for the sinews
and muscles and ligaments; and three for the bones and cartilages;
and three for the anatomy of the bones, which have to be sawn to
show which are hollow and which are not, which have marrow and which
are spongy, and which are thick from the outside inwards, and which
are thin. And some are extremely thin in some parts and thick in
others, and in some parts hollow or filled up with bone, or full of
marrow, or spongy. And all these conditions are sometimes found in
one and the same bone, and in some bones none of them. And three you
must have for the woman, in which there is much that is mysterious
by reason of the womb and the foetus. Therefore by my drawings every
part will be known to you, and all by means of demonstrations from
three different points of view of each part; for when you have seen
a limb from the front, with any muscles, sinews, or veins which take
their rise from the opposite side, the same limb will be shown to
you in a side view or from behind, exactly as if you had that same
limb in your hand and were turning it from side to side until you
had acquired a full comprehension of all you wished to know. In the
same way there will be put before you three or four demonstrations
of each limb, from various points of view, so that you will be left
with a true and complete knowledge of all you wish to learn of the
human figure[Footnote 35: Compare Pl. CVII. The original drawing at
Windsor is 28 1/2 X 19 1/2 centimetres. The upper figures are
slightly washed with Indian ink. On the back of this drawing is the
text No. 1140.].

Thus, in twelve entire figures, you will have set before you the
cosmography of this lesser world on the same plan as, before me, was
adopted by Ptolemy in his cosmography; and so I will afterwards
divide them into limbs as he divided the whole world into provinces;
then I will speak of the function of each part in every direction,
putting before your eyes a description of the whole form and
substance of man, as regards his movements from place to place, by
means of his different parts. And thus, if it please our great
Author, I may demonstrate the nature of men, and their customs in
the way I describe his figure.

And remember that the anatomy of the nerves will not give the
position of their ramifications, nor show you which muscles they
branch into, by means of bodies dissected in running water or in
lime water; though indeed their origin and starting point may be
seen without such water as well as with it. But their ramifications,
when under running water, cling and unite–just like flat or hemp
carded for spinning–all into a skein, in a way which makes it
impossible to trace in which muscles or by what ramification the
nerves are distributed among those muscles.



First draw the bones, let us say, of the arm, and put in the motor
muscle from the shoulder to the elbow with all its lines. Then
proceed in the same way from the elbow to the wrist. Then from the
wrist to the hand and from the hand to the fingers.

And in the arm you will put the motors of the fingers which open,
and these you will show separately in their demonstration. In the
second demonstration you will clothe these muscles with the
secondary motors of the fingers and so proceed by degrees to avoid
confusion. But first lay on the bones those muscles which lie close
to the said bones, without confusion of other muscles; and with
these you may put the nerves and veins which supply their
nourishment, after having first drawn the tree of veins and nerves
over the simple bones.


Begin the anatomy at the head and finish at the sole of the foot.


3 men complete, 3 with bones and nerves, 3 with the bones only. Here
we have 12 demonstrations of entire figures.


When you have finished building up the man, you will make the statue
with all its superficial measurements.

[Footnote: Cresciere l’omo. The meaning of this expression appears
to be different here and in the passage C.A. 157a, 468a (see No.
526, Note 1. 2). Here it can hardly mean anything else than
modelling, since the sculptor forms the figure by degrees, by adding
wet clay and the figure consequently increases or grows. Tu farai
la statua
would then mean, you must work out the figure in marble.
If this interpretation is the correct one, this passage would have
no right to find a place in the series on anatomical studies. I may
say that it was originally inserted in this connection under the
impression that di cresciere should be read descrivere.]

Plans for the representation of muscles by drawings (803-809).


You must show all the motions of the bones with their joints to
follow the demonstration of the first three figures of the bones,
and this should be done in the first book.


Remember that to be certain of the point of origin of any muscle,
you must pull the sinew from which the muscle springs in such a way
as to see that muscle move, and where it is attached to the
ligaments of the bones.


You will never get any thing but confusion in demonstrating the
muscles and their positions, origin, and termination, unless you
first make a demonstration of thin muscles after the manner of linen
threads; and thus you can represent them, one over another as nature
has placed them; and thus, too, you can name them according to the
limb they serve; for instance the motor of the point of the great
toe, of its middle bone, of its first bone, &c. And when you have
the knowledge you will draw, by the side of this, the true form and
size and position of each muscle. But remember to give the threads
which explain the situation of the muscles in the position which
corresponds to the central line of each muscle; and so these threads
will demonstrate the form of the leg and their distance in a plain
and clear manner.

I have removed the skin from a man who was so shrunk by illness that
the muscles were worn down and remained in a state like thin
membrane, in such a way that the sinews instead of merging in
muscles ended in wide membrane; and where the bones were covered by
the skin they had very little over their natural size.

[Footnote: The photograph No. 41 of Grosvenor Gallery Publications:
a drawing of the muscles of the foot, includes a complete facsimile
of the text of this passage.]


Which nerve causes the motion of the eye so that the motion of one
eye moves the other?

Of frowning the brows, of raising the brows, of lowering the
brows,–of closing the eyes, of opening the eyes,–of raising the
nostrils, of opening the lips, with the teeth shut, of pouting with
the lips, of smiling, of astonishment.–

Describe the beginning of man when it is caused in the womb and why
an eight months child does not live. What sneezing is. What yawning
is. Falling sickness, spasms, paralysis, shivering with cold,
sweating, fatigue, hunger, sleepiness, thirst, lust.

Of the nerve which is the cause of movement from the shoulder to the
elbow, of the movement from the elbow to the hand, from the joint of
the hand to the springing of the fingers. From the springing of the
fingers to the middle joints, and from the middle joints to the

Of the nerve which causes the movement of the thigh, and from the
knee to the foot, and from the joint of the foot to the toes, and
then to the middle of the toes and of the rotary motion of the leg.



Which nerves or sinews of the hand are those which close and part
the fingers and toes latteraly?


Remove by degrees all the parts of the front of a man in making your
dissection, till you come to the bones. Description of the parts of
the bust and of their motions.


Give the anatomy of the leg up to the hip, in all views and in every
action and in every state; veins, arteries, nerves, sinews and
muscles, skin and bones; then the bones in sections to show the
thickness of the bones.

[Footnote: A straightened leg in profile is sketched by the side of
this text.]

On corpulency and leanness (809-811).


Make the rule and give the measurement of each muscle, and give the
reasons of all their functions, and in which way they work and what
makes them work &c.

[4] First draw the spine of the back; then clothe it by degrees, one
after the other, with each of its muscles and put in the nerves and
arteries and veins to each muscle by itself; and besides these note
the vertebrae to which they are attached; which of the intestines
come in contact with them; and which bones and other organs &c.

The most prominent parts of lean people are most prominent in the
muscular, and equally so in fat persons. But concerning the
difference in the forms of the muscles in fat persons as compared
with muscular persons, it shall be described below.

[Footnote: The two drawings given on Pl. CVIII no. 1 come between
lines 3 and 4. A good and very early copy of this drawing without
the written text exists in the collection of drawings belonging to
Christ’s College Oxford, where it is attributed to Leonardo.]


Describe which muscles disappear in growing fat, and which become
visible in growing lean.

And observe that that part which on the surface of a fat person is
most concave, when he grows lean becomes more prominent.

Where the muscles separate one from another you must give profiles
and where they coalesce …



Which is the part in man, which, as he grows fatter, never gains

Or what part which as a man grows lean never falls away with a too
perceptible diminution? And among the parts which grow fat which is
that which grows fattest?

Among those which grow lean which is that which grows leanest?

In very strong men which are the muscles which are thickest and most

In your anatomy you must represent all the stages of the limbs from
man’s creation to his death, and then till the death of the bone;
and which part of him is first decayed and which is preserved the

And in the same way of extreme leanness and extreme fatness.

The divisions of the head (812. 813).



There are eleven elementary tissues:– Cartilage, bones, nerves,
veins, arteries, fascia, ligament and sinews, skin, muscle and fat.


The divisions of the head are 10, viz. 5 external and 5 internal,
the external are the hair, skin, muscle, fascia and the skull; the
internal are the dura mater, the pia mater, [which enclose] the
brain. The pia mater and the dura mater come again underneath and
enclose the brain; then the rete mirabile, and the occipital bone,
which supports the brain from which the nerves spring.


a. hair

n. skin

c. muscle

m. fascia

o. skull i.e. bone

b. dura mater

d. pia mater

f. brain

r. pia mater, below

t. dura mater

l. rete mirablile

s. the occipitul bone.

[Footnote: See Pl. CVIII, No. 3.]

Physiological problems (814. 815).


Of the cause of breathing, of the cause of the motion of the heart,
of the cause of vomiting, of the cause of the descent of food from
the stomach, of the cause of emptying the intestines.

Of the cause of the movement of the superfluous matter through the

Of the cause of swallowing, of the cause of coughing, of the cause
of yawning, of the cause of sneezing, of the cause of limbs getting

Of the cause of losing sensibility in any limb.

Of the cause of tickling.

Of the cause of lust and other appetites of the body, of the cause
of urine and also of all the natural excretions of the body.

[Footnote: By the side of this text stands the pen and ink drawing
reproduced on Pl. CVIII, No. 4; a skull with indications of the
veins in the fleshy covering.]


The tears come from the heart and not from the brain.

Define all the parts, of which the body is composed, beginning with
the skin with its outer cuticle which is often chapped by the
influence of the sun.



The divisions of the animal kingdom (816. 817).


Man. The description of man, which includes that of such creatures
as are of almost the same species, as Apes, Monkeys and the like,
which are many,

The Lion and its kindred, as Panthers. [Footnote 3: Leonza–wild
cat? “Secondo alcuni, lo stesso che Leonessa; e secondo altri con
piu certezza, lo stesso che Pantera
” FANFANI, Vocabolario page
858.] Wildcats (?) Tigers, Leopards, Wolfs, Lynxes, Spanish cats,
common cats and the like.

The Horse and its kindred, as Mule, Ass and the like, with incisor
teeth above and below.

The Bull and its allies with horns and without upper incisors as
the Buffalo, Stag Fallow Deer, Wild Goat, Swine, Goat, wild Goats
Muskdeers, Chamois, Giraffe.


Describe the various forms of the intestines of the human species,
of apes and such like. Then, in what way the leonine species differ,
and then the bovine, and finally birds; and arrange this description
after the manner of a disquisition.

Miscellaneous notes on the study of Zoology (818-821).


Procure the placenta of a calf when it is born and observe the form
of the cotyledons, if their cotyledons are male or female.


Describe the tongue of the woodpecker and the jaw of the crocodile.


Of the flight of the 4th kind of butterflies that consume winged
ants. Of the three principal positions of the wings of birds in
downward flight.

[Footnote: A passing allusion is all I can here permit myself to
Leonardo’s elaborate researches into the flight of birds. Compare
the observations on this subject in the Introduction to section
XVIII and in the Bibliography of Manuscripts at the end of the


Of the way in which the tail of a fish acts in propelling the fish;
as in the eel, snake and leech.

[Footnote: A sketch of a fish, swimming upwards is in the original,
inserted above this text.–Compare No. 1114.]

Comparative study of the structure of bones and of the action of
muscles (822-826).



Then I will discourse of the hands of each animal to show in what
they vary; as in the bear, which has the ligatures of the sinews of
the toes joined above the instep.


A second demonstration inserted between anatomy and [the treatise
on] the living being.

You will represent here for a comparison, the legs of a frog, which
have a great resemblance to the legs of man, both in the bones and
in the muscles. Then, in continuation, the hind legs of the hare,
which are very muscular, with strong active muscles, because they
are not encumbered with fat.

[Footnote: This text is written by the side of a drawing in black
chalk of a nude male figure, but there is no connection between the
sketch and the text.]


Here I make a note to demonstrate the difference there is between
man and the horse and in the same way with other animals. And first
I will begin with the bones, and then will go on to all the muscles
which spring from the bones without tendons and end in them in the
same way, and then go on to those which start with a single tendon
at one end.

[Footnote: See Pl. CVIII, No. 2.]


Note on the bendings of joints and in what way the flesh grows upon
them in their flexions or extensions; and of this most important
study write a separate treatise: in the description of the movements
of animals with four feet; among which is man, who likewise in his
infancy crawls on all fours.



The walking of man is always after the universal manner of walking
in animals with 4 legs, inasmuch as just as they move their feet
crosswise after the manner of a horse in trotting, so man moves his
4 limbs crosswise; that is, if he puts forward his right foot in
walking he puts forward, with it, his left arm and vice versa,



Comparative study of the organs of sense in men and animals.


I have found that in the composition of the human body as compared
with the bodies of animals the organs of sense are duller and
coarser. Thus it is composed of less ingenious instruments, and of
spaces less capacious for receiving the faculties of sense. I have
seen in the Lion tribe that the sense of smell is connected with
part of the substance of the brain which comes down the nostrils,
which form a spacious receptacle for the sense of smell, which
enters by a great number of cartilaginous vesicles with several
passages leading up to where the brain, as before said, comes down.

The eyes in the Lion tribe have a large part of the head for their
sockets and the optic nerves communicate at once with the brain; but
the contrary is to be seen in man, for the sockets of the eyes are
but a small part of the head, and the optic nerves are very fine and
long and weak, and by the weakness of their action we see by day but
badly at night, while these animals can see as well at night as by
day. The proof that they can see is that they prowl for prey at
night and sleep by day, as nocturnal birds do also.

Advantages in the structure of the eye in certain animals (828-831).


Every object we see will appear larger at midnight than at midday,
and larger in the morning than at midday.

This happens because the pupil of the eye is much smaller at midday
than at any other time.

In proportion as the eye or the pupil of the owl is larger in
proportion to the animal than that of man, so much the more light
can it see at night than man can; hence at midday it can see nothing
if its pupil does not diminish; and, in the same way, at night
things look larger to it than by day.



The eyes of all animals have their pupils adapted to dilate and
diminish of their own accord in proportion to the greater or less
light of the sun or other luminary. But in birds the variation is
much greater; and particularly in nocturnal birds, such as horned
owls, and in the eyes of one species of owl; in these the pupil
dilates in such away as to occupy nearly the whole eye, or
diminishes to the size of a grain of millet, and always preserves
the circular form. But in the Lion tribe, as panthers, pards,
ounces, tigers, lynxes, Spanish cats and other similar animals the
pupil diminishes from the perfect circle to the figure of a pointed
oval such as is shown in the margin. But man having a weaker sight
than any other animal is less hurt by a very strong light and his
pupil increases but little in dark places; but in the eyes of these
nocturnal animals, the horned owl–a bird which is the largest of
all nocturnal birds–the power of vision increases so much that in
the faintest nocturnal light (which we call darkness) it sees with
much more distinctness than we do in the splendour of noon day, at
which time these birds remain hidden in dark holes; or if indeed
they are compelled to come out into the open air lighted up by the
sun, they contract their pupils so much that their power of sight
diminishes together with the quantity of light admitted.

Study the anatomy of various eyes and see which are the muscles
which open and close the said pupils of the eyes of animals.

[Footnote: Compare No. 24, lines 8 and fol.]


a b n is the membrane which closes the eye from below, upwards,
with an opaque film, c n b encloses the eye in front and behind
with a transparent membrane.

It closes from below, upwards, because it [the eye] comes downwards.

When the eye of a bird closes with its two lids, the first to close
is the nictitating membrane which closes from the lacrymal duct over
to the outer corner of the eye; and the outer lid closes from below
upwards, and these two intersecting motions begin first from the
lacrymatory duct, because we have already seen that in front and
below birds are protected and use only the upper portion of the eye
from fear of birds of prey which come down from above and behind;
and they uncover first the membrane from the outer corner, because
if the enemy comes from behind, they have the power of escaping to
the front; and again the muscle called the nictitating membrane is
transparent, because, if the eye had not such a screen, they could
not keep it open against the wind which strikes against the eye in
the rush of their rapid flight. And the pupil of the eye dilates and
contracts as it sees a less or greater light, that is to say intense


If at night your eye is placed between the light and the eye of a
cat, it will see the eye look like fire.

Remarks on the organs of speech

(832. 833).


a e i o u
ba be bi bo bu
ca ce ci co cu
da de di do du
fa fe fi fo fu
ga ge gi go gu
la le li lo lu
ma me mi mo mu
na ne ni no nu
pa pe pi po pu
qa qe qi qo qu
ra re ri ro ru
sa se si so su
ta te ti to tu

The tongue is found to have 24 muscles which correspond to the six
muscles which compose the portion of the tongue which moves in the

And when a o u are spoken with a clear and rapid pronunciation, it
is necessary, in order to pronounce continuously, without any pause
between, that the opening of the lips should close by degrees; that
is, they are wide apart in saying a, closer in saying o, and
much closer still to pronounce u.

It may be shown how all the vowels are pronounced with the farthest
portion of the false palate which is above the epiglottis.


If you draw in breath by the nose and send it out by the mouth you
will hear the sound made by the division that is the membrane in
[Footnote 5: The text here breaks off.]…

On the conditions of sight (834. 835).



I say that sight is exercised by all animals, by the medium of
light; and if any one adduces, as against this, the sight of
nocturnal animals, I must say that this in the same way is subject
to the very same natural laws. For it will easily be understood that
the senses which receive the images of things do not project from
themselves any visual virtue [Footnote 4: Compare No. 68.]. On the
contrary the atmospheric medium which exists between the object and
the sense incorporates in itself the figure of things, and by its
contact with the sense transmits the object to it. If the
object–whether by sound or by odour–presents its spiritual force
to the ear or the nose, then light is not required and does not act.
The forms of objects do not send their images into the air if they
are not illuminated [8]; and the eye being thus constituted cannot
receive that from the air, which the air does not possess, although
it touches its surface. If you choose to say that there are many
animals that prey at night, I answer that when the little light
which suffices the nature of their eyes is wanting, they direct
themselves by their strong sense of hearing and of smell, which are
not impeded by the darkness, and in which they are very far superior
to man. If you make a cat leap, by daylight, among a quantity of
jars and crocks you will see them remain unbroken, but if you do the
same at night, many will be broken. Night birds do not fly about
unless the moon shines full or in part; rather do they feed between
sun-down and the total darkness of the night.

[Footnote 8: See No. 58-67.]

No body can be apprehended without light and shade, and light and
shade are caused by light.



Sight is better from a distance than near in those men who are
advancing in age, because the same object transmits a smaller
impression of itself to the eye when it is distant than when it is

The seat of the common sense.


The Common Sense, is that which judges of things offered to it by
the other senses. The ancient speculators have concluded that that
part of man which constitutes his judgment is caused by a central
organ to which the other five senses refer everything by means of
impressibility; and to this centre they have given the name Common
Sense. And they say that this Sense is situated in the centre of the
head between Sensation and Memory. And this name of Common Sense is
given to it solely because it is the common judge of all the other
five senses i.e. Seeing, Hearing, Touch, Taste and Smell. This
Common Sense is acted upon by means of Sensation which is placed as
a medium between it and the senses. Sensation is acted upon by means
of the images of things presented to it by the external instruments,
that is to say the senses which are the medium between external
things and Sensation. In the same way the senses are acted upon by
objects. Surrounding things transmit their images to the senses and
the senses transfer them to the Sensation. Sensation sends them to
the Common Sense, and by it they are stamped upon the memory and are
there more or less retained according to the importance or force of
the impression. That sense is most rapid in its function which is
nearest to the sensitive medium and the eye, being the highest is
the chief of the others. Of this then only we will speak, and the
others we will leave in order not to make our matter too long.
Experience tells us that the eye apprehends ten different natures of
things, that is: Light and Darkness, one being the cause of the
perception of the nine others, and the other its absence:– Colour
and substance, form and place, distance and nearness, motion and
stillness [Footnote 15: Compare No. 23.].

On the origin of the soul.


Though human ingenuity may make various inventions which, by the
help of various machines answering the same end, it will never
devise any inventions more beautiful, nor more simple, nor more to
the purpose than Nature does; because in her inventions nothing is
wanting, and nothing is superfluous, and she needs no counterpoise
when she makes limbs proper for motion in the bodies of animals. But
she puts into them the soul of the body, which forms them that is
the soul of the mother which first constructs in the womb the form
of the man and in due time awakens the soul that is to inhabit it.
And this at first lies dormant and under the tutelage of the soul of
the mother, who nourishes and vivifies it by the umbilical vein,
with all its spiritual parts, and this happens because this
umbilicus is joined to the placenta and the cotyledons, by which the
child is attached to the mother. And these are the reason why a
wish, a strong craving or a fright or any other mental suffering in
the mother, has more influence on the child than on the mother; for
there are many cases when the child loses its life from them, &c.

This discourse is not in its place here, but will be wanted for the
one on the composition of animated bodies–and the rest of the
definition of the soul I leave to the imaginations of friars, those
fathers of the people who know all secrets by inspiration.

[Footnote 57: lettere incoronate. By this term Leonardo probably
understands not the Bible only, but the works of the early Fathers,
and all the books recognised as sacred by the Roman Church.] I leave
alone the sacred books; for they are supreme truth.

On the relations of the soul to the organs of sense.



The soul seems to reside in the judgment, and the judgment would
seem to be seated in that part where all the senses meet; and this
is called the Common Sense and is not all-pervading throughout the
body, as many have thought. Rather is it entirely in one part.
Because, if it were all-pervading and the same in every part, there
would have been no need to make the instruments of the senses meet
in one centre and in one single spot; on the contrary it would have
sufficed that the eye should fulfil the function of its sensation on
its surface only, and not transmit the image of the things seen, to
the sense, by means of the optic nerves, so that the soul–for the
reason given above– may perceive it in the surface of the eye. In
the same way as to the sense of hearing, it would have sufficed if
the voice had merely sounded in the porous cavity of the indurated
portion of the temporal bone which lies within the ear, without
making any farther transit from this bone to the common sense, where
the voice confers with and discourses to the common judgment. The
sense of smell, again, is compelled by necessity to refer itself to
that same judgment. Feeling passes through the perforated cords and
is conveyed to this common sense. These cords diverge with infinite
ramifications into the skin which encloses the members of the body
and the viscera. The perforated cords convey volition and sensation
to the subordinate limbs. These cords and the nerves direct the
motions of the muscles and sinews, between which they are placed;
these obey, and this obedience takes effect by reducing their
thickness; for in swelling, their length is reduced, and the nerves
shrink which are interwoven among the particles of the limbs; being
extended to the tips of the fingers, they transmit to the sense the
object which they touch.

The nerves with their muscles obey the tendons as soldiers obey the
officers, and the tendons obey the Common [central] Sense as the
officers obey the general. [27] Thus the joint of the bones obeys
the nerve, and the nerve the muscle, and the muscle the tendon and
the tendon the Common Sense. And the Common Sense is the seat of the
soul [28], and memory is its ammunition, and the impressibility is
its referendary since the sense waits on the soul and not the soul
on the sense. And where the sense that ministers to the soul is not
at the service of the soul, all the functions of that sense are also
wanting in that man’s life, as is seen in those born mute and blind.

[Footnote: The peculiar use of the words nervo, muscolo,
corda, senso comune, which are here literally rendered by nerve,
muscle cord or tendon and Common Sense may be understood from lines
27 and 28.]

On involuntary muscular action.



This is most plainly seen; for you will see palsied and shivering
persons move, and their trembling limbs, as their head and hands,
quake without leave from their soul and their soul with all its
power cannot prevent their members from trembling. The same thing
happens in falling sickness, or in parts that have been cut off, as
in the tails of lizards. The idea or imagination is the helm and
guiding-rein of the senses, because the thing conceived of moves the
sense. Pre-imagining, is imagining the things that are to be.
Post-imagining, is imagining the things that are past.

Miscellaneous physiological observations (840-842).


There are four Powers: memory and intellect, desire and
covetousness. The two first are mental and the others sensual. The
three senses: sight, hearing and smell cannot well be prevented;
touch and taste not at all. Smell is connected with taste in dogs
and other gluttonous animals.


I reveal to men the origin of the first, or perhaps second cause of
their existence.


Lust is the cause of generation.

Appetite is the support of life. Fear or timidity is the
prolongation of life and preservation of its instruments.

The laws of nutrition and the support of life (843-848).



The body of any thing whatever that takes nourishment constantly
dies and is constantly renewed; because nourishment can only enter
into places where the former nourishment has expired, and if it has
expired it no longer has life. And if you do not supply nourishment
equal to the nourishment which is gone, life will fail in vigour,
and if you take away this nourishment, the life is entirely
destroyed. But if you restore as much is destroyed day by day, then
as much of the life is renewed as is consumed, just as the flame of
the candle is fed by the nourishment afforded by the liquid of this
candle, which flame continually with a rapid supply restores to it
from below as much as is consumed in dying above: and from a
brilliant light is converted in dying into murky smoke; and this
death is continuous, as the smoke is continuous; and the continuance
of the smoke is equal to the continuance of the nourishment, and in
the same instant all the flame is dead and all regenerated,
simultaneously with the movement of its own nourishment.


King of the animals–as thou hast described him–I should rather say
king of the beasts, thou being the greatest–because thou hast
spared slaying them, in order that they may give thee their children
for the benefit of the gullet, of which thou hast attempted to make
a sepulchre for all animals; and I would say still more, if it were
allowed me to speak the entire truth [5]. But we do not go outside
human matters in telling of one supreme wickedness, which does not
happen among the animals of the earth, inasmuch as among them are
found none who eat their own kind, unless through want of sense (few
indeed among them, and those being mothers, as with men, albeit they
be not many in number); and this happens only among the rapacious
animals, as with the leonine species, and leopards, panthers lynxes,
cats and the like, who sometimes eat their children; but thou,
besides thy children devourest father, mother, brothers and friends;
nor is this enough for thee, but thou goest to the chase on the
islands of others, taking other men and these half-naked, the …
and the … thou fattenest, and chasest them down thy own
throat[18]; now does not nature produce enough simples, for thee to
satisfy thyself? and if thou art not content with simples, canst
thou not by the mixture of them make infinite compounds, as Platina
wrote[Footnote 21: Come scrisse il Platina (Bartolomeo Sacchi, a
famous humanist). The Italian edition of his treatise De arte
, was published under the title De la honestra
voluptate, e valetudine, Venezia
1487.], and other authors on

[Footnote: We are led to believe that Leonardo himself was a
vegetarian from the following interesting passage in the first of
Andrea Corsali’s letters to Giuliano de’Medici: Alcuni gentili
chiamati Guzzarati non si cibano di cosa, alcuna che tenga sangue,
ne fra essi loro consentono che si noccia ad alcuna cosa animata,
come il nostro Leonardo da Vinci

5-18. Amerigo Vespucci, with whom Leonardo was personally
acquainted, writes in his second letter to Pietro Soderini, about
the inhabitants of the Canary Islands after having stayed there in
1503: “Hanno una scelerata liberta di viuere; … si cibano di
carne humana, di maniera che il padre magia il figliuolo, et
all’incontro il figliuolo il padre secondo che a caso e per sorte
auiene. Io viddi un certo huomo sceleratissimo che si vantaua, et si
teneua a non piccola gloria di hauer mangiato piu di trecento
huomini. Viddi anche vna certa citta, nella quale io dimorai forse
ventisette giorni, doue le carni humane, hauendole salate, eran
appicate alli traui, si come noi alli traui di cucina
le carni di cinghali secche al sole o al fumo, et massimamente
salsiccie, et altre simil cose: anzi si marauigliauano gradem ete
che noi non magiaissimo della carne de nemici, le quali dicono
muouere appetito, et essere di marauiglioso sapore, et le lodano
come cibi soaui et delicati (Lettere due di Amerigo Vespucci
Fiorentino drizzate al magnifico Pietro Soderini, Gonfaloniere della
eccelsa Republica di Firenze
; various editions).]


Our life is made by the death of others.

In dead matter insensible life remains, which, reunited to the
stomachs of living beings, resumes life, both sensual and


Here nature appears with many animals to have been rather a cruel
stepmother than a mother, and with others not a stepmother, but a
most tender mother.


Man and animals are really the passage and the conduit of food, the
sepulchre of animals and resting place of the dead, one causing the
death of the other, making themselves the covering for the
corruption of other dead [bodies].

On the circulation of the blood (848-850).


Death in old men, when not from fever, is caused by the veins which
go from the spleen to the valve of the liver, and which thicken so
much in the walls that they become closed up and leave no passage
for the blood that nourishes it.

[6]The incessant current of the blood through the veins makes these
veins thicken and become callous, so that at last they close up and
prevent the passage of the blood.


The waters return with constant motion from the lowest depths of the
sea to the utmost height of the mountains, not obeying the nature of
heavier bodies; and in this they resemble the blood of animated
beings which always moves from the sea of the heart and flows
towards the top of the head; and here it may burst a vein, as may be
seen when a vein bursts in the nose; all the blood rises from below
to the level of the burst vein. When the water rushes out from the
burst vein in the earth, it obeys the law of other bodies that are
heavier than the air since it always seeks low places.

[Footnote: From this passage it is quite plain that Leonardo had not
merely a general suspicion of the circulation of the blood but a
very clear conception of it. Leonardo’s studies on the muscles of
the heart are to be found in the MS. W. An. III. but no information
about them has hitherto been made public. The limits of my plan in
this work exclude all purely anatomical writings, therefore only a
very brief excerpt from this note book can be given here. WILLIAM
HARVEY (born 1578 and Professor of Anatomy at Cambridge from 1615)
is always considered to have been the discoverer of the circulation
of the blood. He studied medicine at Padua in 1598, and in 1628
brought out his memorable and important work: De motu cordis et


That the blood which returns when the heart opens again is not the
same as that which closes the valves of the heart.

Some notes on medicine (851-855).


Make them give you the definition and remedies for the case … and
you will see that men are selected to be doctors for diseases they
do not know.


A remedy for scratches taught me by the Herald to the King of
France. 4 ounces of virgin wax, 4 ounces of colophony, 2 ounces of
incense. Keep each thing separate; and melt the wax, and then put in
the incense and then the colophony, make a mixture of it and put it
on the sore place.


Medicine is the restoration of discordant elements; sickness is the
discord of the elements infused into the living body.


Those who are annoyed by sickness at sea should drink extract of


To keep in health, this rule is wise: Eat only when you want and
relish food. Chew thoroughly that it may do you good. Have it well
cooked, unspiced and undisguised. He who takes medicine is ill

[Footnote: This appears to be a sketch for a poem.]


I teach you to preserve your health; and in this you will succed
better in proportion as you shun physicians, because their medicines
are the work of alchemists.

[Footnote: This passage is written on the back of the drawing Pl.
CVIII. Compare also No. 1184.]



Ever since the publication by Venturi in 1797 and Libri in 1840
of some few passages of Leonardo’s astronomical notes, scientific
astronomers have frequently expressed the opinion, that they must
have been based on very important discoveries, and that the great
painter also deserved a conspicuous place in the history of this
science. In the passages here printed, a connected view is given of
his astronomical studies as they lie scattered through the
manuscripts, which have come down to us. Unlike his other purely
scientific labours, Leonardo devotes here a good deal of attention
to the opinions of the ancients, though he does not follow the
practice universal in his day of relying on them as authorities; he
only quotes them, as we shall see, in order to refute their
arguments. His researches throughout have the stamp of independent
thought. There is nothing in these writings to lead us to suppose
that they were merely an epitome of the general learning common to
the astronomers of the period. As early as in the XIVth century
there were chairs of astronomy in the universities of Padua and
Bologna, but so late as during the entire XVIth century Astronomy
and Astrology were still closely allied.

It is impossible now to decide whether Leonardo, when living in
Florence, became acquainted in his youth with the doctrines of Paolo
Toscanelli the great astronomer and mathematician (died
1482_), of
whose influence and teaching but little is now known, beyond the
fact that he advised and encouraged Columbus to carry out his
project of sailing round the world. His name is nowhere mentioned by
Leonardo, and from the dates of the manuscripts from which the texts
on astronomy are taken, it seems highly probable that Leonardo
devoted his attention to astronomical studies less in his youth than
in his later years. It was evidently his purpose to treat of
Astronomy in a connected form and in a separate work (see the
beginning of Nos._ 866 and 892_; compare also No._ 1167_). It is
quite in accordance with his general scientific thoroughness that he
should propose to write a special treatise on Optics as an
introduction to Astronomy (see Nos._ 867 and 877_). Some of the
chapters belonging to this Section bear the title “Prospettiva”
(see Nos. 869 and 870_), this being the term universally applied
at the time to Optics as well as Perspective (see Vol. I, p._ 10,
note to No. 13, l. 10_)_.

At the beginning of the XVIth century the Ptolemaic theory of the
universe was still universally accepted as the true one, and
Leonardo conceives of the earth as fixed, with the moon and sun
revolving round it, as they are represented in the diagram to No.

897. He does not go into any theory of the motions of the planets;
with regard to these and the fixed stars he only investigates the
phenomena of their luminosity. The spherical form of the earth he
takes for granted as an axiom from the first, and he anticipates
Newton by pointing out the universality of Gravitation not merely in
the earth, but even in the moon. Although his acute research into
the nature of the moon’s light and the spots on the moon did not
bring to light many results of lasting importance beyond making it
evident that they were a refutation of the errors of his
contemporaries, they contain various explanations of facts which
modern science need not modify in any essential point, and
discoveries which history has hitherto assigned to a very much later

The ingenious theory by which he tries to explain the nature of
what is known as earth shine, the reflection of the sun’s rays by
the earth towards the moon, saying that it is a peculiar refraction,
originating in the innumerable curved surfaces of the waves of the
sea may be regarded as absurd; but it must not be forgotten that he
had no means of detecting the fundamental error on which he based
it, namely: the assumption that the moon was at a relatively short
distance from the earth. So long as the motion of the earth round
the sun remained unknown, it was of course impossible to form any
estimate of the moon’s distance from the earth by a calculation of
its parallax

Before the discovery of the telescope accurate astronomical
observations were only possible to a very limited extent. It would
appear however from certain passages in the notes here printed for
the first time, that Leonardo was in a position to study the spots
in the moon more closely than he could have done with the unaided
eye. So far as can be gathered from the mysterious language in which
the description of his instrument is wrapped, he made use of
magnifying glasses; these do not however seem to have been
constructed like a telescope–telescopes were first made about

1600. As LIBRI pointed out (Histoire des Sciences mathematiques
III, 101) Fracastoro of Verona (1473-1553) succeeded in
magnifying the moon’s face by an arrangement of lenses (compare No.

910, note), and this gives probability to Leonardo’s invention at a
not much earlier date.



The earth’s place in the universe (857. 858).


The equator, the line of the horizon, the ecliptic, the meridian:

These lines are those which in all their parts are equidistant from
the centre of the globe.


The earth is not in the centre of the Sun’s orbit nor at the centre
of the universe, but in the centre of its companion elements, and
united with them. And any one standing on the moon, when it and the
sun are both beneath us, would see this our earth and the element of
water upon it just as we see the moon, and the earth would light it
as it lights us.

The fundamental laws of the solar system (859-864).


Force arises from dearth or abundance; it is the child of physical
motion, and the grand-child of spiritual motion, and the mother and
origin of gravity. Gravity is limited to the elements of water and
earth; but this force is unlimited, and by it infinite worlds might
be moved if instruments could be made by which the force could be

Force, with physical motion, and gravity, with resistance are the
four external powers on which all actions of mortals depend.

Force has its origin in spiritual motion; and this motion, flowing
through the limbs of sentient animals, enlarges their muscles. Being
enlarged by this current the muscles are shrunk in length and
contract the tendons which are connected with them, and this is the
cause of the force of the limbs in man.

The quality and quantity of the force of a man are able to give
birth to other forces, which will be proportionally greater as the
motions produced by them last longer.

[Footnote: Only part of this passage belongs, strictly speaking, to
this section. The principle laid down in the second paragraph is
more directly connected with the notes given in the preceding
section on Physiology.]


Why does not the weight o remain in its place? It does not remain
because it has no resistance. Where will it move to? It will move
towards the centre [of gravity]. And why by no other line? Because a
weight which has no support falls by the shortest road to the lowest
point which is the centre of the world. And why does the weight know
how to find it by so short a line? Because it is not independant and
does not move about in various directions.

[Footnote: This text and the sketch belonging to it, are reproduced
on Pl. CXXI.]


Let the earth turn on which side it may the surface of the waters
will never move from its spherical form, but will always remain
equidistant from the centre of the globe.

Granting that the earth might be removed from the centre of the
globe, what would happen to the water?

It would remain in a sphere round that centre equally thick, but the
sphere would have a smaller diameter than when it enclosed the

[Footnote: Compare No. 896, lines 48-64; and No. 936.]


Supposing the earth at our antipodes which supports the ocean were
to rise and stand uncovered, far out of the sea, but remaining
almost level, by what means afterwards, in the course of time, would
mountains and vallies be formed?

And the rocks with their various strata?


Each man is always in the middle of the surface of the earth and
under the zenith of his own hemisphere, and over the centre of the


Mem.: That I must first show the distance of the sun from the earth;
and, by means of a ray passing through a small hole into a dark
chamber, detect its real size; and besides this, by means of the
aqueous sphere calculate the size of the globe …

Here it will be shown, that when the sun is in the meridian of our
hemisphere [Footnote 10: Antipodi orientali cogli occidentali. The
word Antipodes does not here bear its literal sense, but–as we
may infer from the simultaneous reference to inhabitants of the
North and South– is used as meaning men living at a distance of 90
degrees from the zenith of the rational horizon of each observer.],
the antipodes to the East and to the West, alike, and at the same
time, see the sun mirrored in their waters; and the same is equally
true of the arctic and antarctic poles, if indeed they are

How to prove that the earth is a planet (865-867).


That the earth is a star.


In your discourse you must prove that the earth is a star much like
the moon, and the glory of our universe; and then you must treat of
the size of various stars, according to the authors.



First describe the eye; then show how the twinkling of a star is
really in the eye and why one star should twinkle more than another,
and how the rays from the stars originate in the eye; and add, that
if the twinkling of the stars were really in the stars –as it seems
to be–that this twinkling appears to be an extension as great as
the diameter of the body of the star; therefore, the star being
larger than the earth, this motion effected in an instant would be a
rapid doubling of the size of the star. Then prove that the surface
of the air where it lies contiguous to fire, and the surface of the
fire where it ends are those into which the solar rays penetrate,
and transmit the images of the heavenly bodies, large when they
rise, and small, when they are on the meridian. Let a be the earth
and n d m the surface of the air in contact with the sphere of
fire; h f g is the orbit of the moon or, if you please, of the
sun; then I say that when the sun appears on the horizon g, its
rays are seen passing through the surface of the air at a slanting
angle, that is o m; this is not the case at d k. And so it
passes through a greater mass of air; all of e m is a denser


Beyond the sun and us there is darkness and so the air appears blue.

[Footnote: Compare Vol. I, No. 301.]



It is possible to find means by which the eye shall not see remote
objects as much diminished as in natural perspective, which
diminishes them by reason of the convexity of the eye which
necessarily intersects, at its surface, the pyramid of every image
conveyed to the eye at a right angle on its spherical surface. But
by the method I here teach in the margin [9] these pyramids are
intersected at right angles close to the surface of the pupil. The
convex pupil of the eye can take in the whole of our hemisphere,
while this will show only a single star; but where many small stars
transmit their images to the surface of the pupil those stars are
extremely small; here only one star is seen but it will be large.
And so the moon will be seen larger and its spots of a more defined
form [Footnote 20 and fol.: Telescopes were not in use till a century
later. Compare No. 910 and page 136.]. You must place close to the
eye a glass filled with the water of which mention is made in number
4 of Book 113 “On natural substances” [Footnote 23: libro 113.
This is perhaps the number of a book in some library catalogue. But
it may refer, on the other hand, to one of the 120 Books mentioned
in No. 796. l. 84.]; for this water makes objects which are enclosed
in balls of crystalline glass appear free from the glass.


Among the smaller objects presented to the pupil of the eye, that
which is closest to it, will be least appreciable to the eye. And at
the same time, the experiments here made with the power of sight,
show that it is not reduced to speck if the &c. [32][Footnote 32:
Compare with this the passage in Vol. I, No. 52, written about
twenty years earlier.].

Read in the margin.

[34]Those objects are seen largest which come to the eye at the
largest angles.

But the images of the objects conveyed to the pupil of the eye are
distributed to the pupil exactly as they are distributed in the air:
and the proof of this is in what follows; that when we look at the
starry sky, without gazing more fixedly at one star than another,
the sky appears all strewn with stars; and their proportions to the
eye are the same as in the sky and likewise the spaces between them

[Footnote: 9. 32. in margine: lines 34-61 are, in the original,
written on the margin and above them is the diagram to which
Leonardo seems to refer here.]



Among objects moved from the eye at equal distance, that undergoes
least diminution which at first was most remote.

When various objects are removed at equal distances farther from
their original position, that which was at first the farthest from
the eye will diminish least. And the proportion of the diminution
will be in proportion to the relative distance of the objects from
the eye before they were removed.

That is to say in the object t and the object e the proportion
of their distances from the eye a is quintuple. I remove each from
its place and set it farther from the eye by one of the 5 parts into
which the proposition is divided. Hence it happens that the nearest
to the eye has doubled the distance and according to the last
proposition but one of this, is diminished by the half of its whole
size; and the body e, by the same motion, is diminished 1/5 of its
whole size. Therefore, by that same last proposition but one, that
which is said in this last proposition is true; and this I say of
the motions of the celestial bodies which are more distant by 3500
miles when setting than when overhead, and yet do not increase or
diminish in any sensible degree.


a b is the aperture through which the sun passes, and if you could
measure the size of the solar rays at n m, you could accurately
trace the real lines of the convergence of the solar rays, the
mirror being at a b, and then show the reflected rays at equal
angles to n m; but, as you want to have them at n m, take them
at the. inner side of the aperture at cd, where they maybe measured
at the spot where the solar rays fall. Then place your mirror at the
distance a b, making the rays d b, c a fall and then be
reflected at equal angles towards c d; and this is the best
method, but you must use this mirror always in the same month, and
the same day, and hour and instant, and this will be better than at
no fixed time because when the sun is at a certain distance it
produces a certain pyramid of rays.


a, the side of the body in light and shade b, faces the whole
portion of the hemisphere bed e f, and does not face any part of
the darkness of the earth. And the same occurs at the point o;
therefore the space a o is throughout of one and the same
brightness, and s faces only four degrees of the hemisphere d e f g
, and also the whole of the earth s h, which will render it
darker; and how much must be demonstrated by calculation. [Footnote:
This passage, which has perhaps a doubtful right to its place in
this connection, stands in the Manuscript between those given in
Vol. I as No. 117 and No. 427.]



Some mathematicians explain that the sun looks larger as it sets,
because the eye always sees it through a denser atmosphere, alleging
that objects seen through mist or through water appear larger. To
these I reply: No; because objects seen through a mist are similar
in colour to those at a distance; but not being similarly diminished
they appear larger. Again, nothing increases in size in smooth
water; and the proof of this may be seen by throwing a light on a
board placed half under water. But the reason why the sun looks
larger is that every luminous body appears larger in proportion as
it is more remote. [Footnote: Lines 5 and 6 are thus rendered by M.
RAVAISSON in his edition of MS. A. “De meme, aucune chose ne croit
dans l’eau plane, et tu en feras l’experience
en calquant un ais
sous l’eau.”–Compare the diagrams in Vol. I, p. 114.]

On the luminosity of the Earth in the universal space (874-878).


In my book I propose to show, how the ocean and the other seas must,
by means of the sun, make our world shine with the appearance of a
moon, and to the remoter worlds it looks like a star; and this I
shall prove.

Show, first that every light at a distance from the eye throws out
rays which appear to increase the size of the luminous body; and
from this it follows that 2 …[Footnote 10: Here the text breaks
off; lines 11 and fol. are written in the margin.].

[11]The moon is cold and moist. Water is cold and moist. Thus our
seas must appear to the moon as the moon does to us.


The waves in water magnify the image of an object reflected in it.

Let a be the sun, and n m the ruffled water, b the image of
the sun when the water is smooth. Let f be the eye which sees the
image in all the waves included within the base of the triangle c e
. Now the sun reflected in the unruffled surface occupied the
space c d, while in the ruffled surface it covers all the watery
space c e (as is proved in the 4th of my “Perspective”) [Footnote
9: Nel quarto della mia prospettiva. If this reference is to the
diagrams accompanying the text–as is usual with Leonardo–and not
to some particular work, the largest of the diagrams here given must
be meant. It is the lowest and actually the fifth, but he would have
called it the fourth, for the text here given is preceded on the
same page of the manuscript by a passage on whirlpools, with the
diagram belonging to it also reproduced here. The words della mia
may therefore indicate that the diagram to the
preceding chapter treating on a heterogeneal subject is to be
excluded. It is a further difficulty that this diagram belongs
properly to lines 9-10 and not to the preceding sentence. The
reflection of the sun in water is also discussed in the Theoretical
part of the Book on Painting; see Vol. I, No. 206, 207.] and it will
cover more of the water in proportion as the reflected image is
remote from the eye [10].

[Footnote: In the original sketch, inside the circle in the first
diagram, is written Sole (sun), and to the right of it luna
(moon). Thus either of these heavenly bodies may be supposed to fill
that space. Within the lower circle is written simulacro (image).
In the two next diagrams at the spot here marked L the word Luna
is written, and in the last sole is written in the top circle at

The image of the sun will be more brightly shown in small waves than
in large ones–and this is because the reflections or images of the
sun are more numerous in the small waves than in large ones, and the
more numerous reflections of its radiance give a larger light than
the fewer.

Waves which intersect like the scales of a fir cone reflect the
image of the sun with the greatest splendour; and this is the case
because the images are as many as the ridges of the waves on which
the sun shines, and the shadows between these waves are small and
not very dark; and the radiance of so many reflections together
becomes united in the image which is transmitted to the eye, so that
these shadows are imperceptible.

That reflection of the sun will cover most space on the surface of
the water which is most remote from the eye which sees it.

Let a be the sun, p q the reflection of the sun; a b is the
surface of the water, in which the sun is mirrored, and r the eye
which sees this reflection on the surface of the water occupying the
space o m. c is the eye at a greater distance from the surface
of the water and also from the reflection; hence this reflection
covers a larger space of water, by the distance between n and o.


It is impossible that the side of a spherical mirror, illuminated by
the sun, should reflect its radiance unless this mirror were
undulating or filled with bubbles.

You see here the sun which lights up the moon, a spherical mirror,
and all of its surface, which faces the sun is rendered radiant.

Whence it may be concluded that what shines in the moon is water
like that of our seas, and in waves as that is; and that portion
which does not shine consists of islands and terra firma.

This diagram, of several spherical bodies interposed between the eye
and the sun, is given to show that, just as the reflection of the
sun is seen in each of these bodies, in the same way that image may
be seen in each curve of the waves of the sea; and as in these many
spheres many reflections of the sun are seen, so in many waves there
are many images, each of which at a great distance is much magnified
to the eye. And, as this happens with each wave, the spaces
interposed between the waves are concealed; and, for this reason, it
looks as though the many suns mirrored in the many waves were but
one continuous sun; and the shadows,, mixed up with the luminous
images, render this radiance less brilliant than that of the sun
mirrored in these waves.

[Footnote: In the original, at letter A in the diagram “Sole
(the sun) is written, and at oocchio” (the eye).]


This will have before it the treatise on light and shade.

The edges in the moon will be most strongly lighted and reflect most
light, because, there, nothing will be visible but the tops of the
waves of the water [Footnote 5: I have thought it unnecessary to
reproduce the detailed explanation of the theory of reflection on
waves contained in the passage which follows this.].


The sun will appear larger in moving water or on waves than in still
water; an example is the light reflected on the strings of a



The question of the true and of the apparent size of the sun



If you look at the stars, cutting off the rays (as may be done by
looking through a very small hole made with the extreme point of a
very fine needle, placed so as almost to touch the eye), you will
see those stars so minute that it would seem as though nothing could
be smaller; it is in fact their great distance which is the reason
of their diminution, for many of them are very many times larger
than the star which is the earth with water. Now reflect what this
our star must look like at such a distance, and then consider how
many stars might be added–both in longitude and latitude–between
those stars which are scattered over the darkened sky. But I cannot
forbear to condemn many of the ancients, who said that the sun was
no larger than it appears; among these was Epicurus, and I believe
that he founded his reason on the effects of a light placed in our
atmosphere equidistant from the centre of the earth. Any one looking
at it never sees it diminished in size at whatever distance; and the

[Footnote 879-882: What Leonardo says of Epicurus– who according to
LEWIS, The Astronomy of the ancients, and MADLER, Geschichte der
, did not devote much attention to the study of
celestial phenomena–, he probably derived from Book X of Diogenes
Laertius, whose Vitae Philosophorum was not printed in Greek till
1533, but the Latin translation appeared in 1475.]


sons of its size and power I shall reserve for Book 4. But I wonder
greatly that Socrates

[Footnote 2: Socrates; I have little light to throw on this
reference. Plato’s Socrates himself declares on more than one
occasion that in his youth he had turned his mind to the study of
celestial phenomena (METEWPA) but not in his later years (see G. C.
LEWIS, The Astronomy of the ancients, page 109; MADLER,
Geschichte der Himmelskunde, page 41). Here and there in Plato’s
writings we find incidental notes on the sun and other heavenly
bodies. Leonardo may very well have known of these, since the Latin
version by Ficinus was printed as early as 1491; indeed an undated
edition exists which may very likely have appeared between 1480–90.

There is but one passage in Plato, Epinomis (p. 983) where he speaks
of the physical properties of the sun and says that it is larger
than the earth.

Aristotle who goes very fully into the subject says the same. A
complete edition of Aristotele’s works was first printed in Venice
1495-98, but a Latin version of the Books De Coelo et Mundo and
De Physica had been printed in Venice as early as in 1483 (H.

should have depreciated that solar body, saying that it was of the
nature of incandescent stone, and the one who opposed him as to that
error was not far wrong. But I only wish I had words to serve me to
blame those who are fain to extol the worship of men more than that
of the sun; for in the whole universe there is nowhere to be seen a
body of greater magnitude and power than the sun. Its light gives
light to all the celestial bodies which are distributed throughout
the universe; and from it descends all vital force, for the heat
that is in living beings comes from the soul [vital spark]; and
there is no other centre of heat and light in the universe as will
be shown in Book 4; and certainly those who have chosen to worship
men as gods–as Jove, Saturn, Mars and the like–have fallen into
the gravest error, seeing that even if a man were as large as our
earth, he would look no bigger than a little star which appears but
as a speck in the universe; and seeing again that these men are
mortal, and putrid and corrupt in their sepulchres.

Marcellus [Footnote 23: I have no means of identifying Marcello
who is named in the margin. It may be Nonius Marcellus, an obscure
Roman Grammarian of uncertain date (between the IInd and Vth
centuries A. C.) the author of the treatise De compendiosa doctrina
per litteras ad filium
in which he treats de rebus omnibus et
quibusdam aliis
. This was much read in the middle ages. The editto
is dated 1470 (H. MULLER-STRUBING).] and many others
praise the sun.


Epicurus perhaps saw the shadows cast by columns on the walls in
front of them equal in diameter to the columns from which the
shadows were cast; and the breadth of the shadows being parallel
from beginning to end, he thought he might infer that the sun also
was directly opposite to this parallel and that consequently its
breadth was not greater than that of the column; not perceiving that
the diminution in the shadow was insensibly slight by reason of the
remoteness of the sun. If the sun were smaller than the earth, the
stars on a great portion of our hemisphere would have no light,
which is evidence against Epicurus who says the sun is only as large
as it appears.

[Footnote: In the original the writing is across the diagram.]


Epicurus says the sun is the size it looks. Hence as it looks about
a foot across we must consider that to be its size; it would follow
that when the moon eclipses the sun, the sun ought not to appear the
larger, as it does. Then, the moon being smaller than the sun, the
moon must be less than a foot, and consequently when our world
eclipses the moon, it must be less than a foot by a finger’s
breadth; inasmuch as if the sun is a foot across, and our earth
casts a conical shadow on the moon, it is inevitable that the
luminous cause of the cone of shadow must be larger than the opaque
body which casts the cone of shadow.


To measure how many times the diameter of the sun will go into its
course in 24 hours.

Make a circle and place it to face the south, after the manner of a
sundial, and place a rod in the middle in such a way as that its
length points to the centre of this circle, and mark the shadow cast
in the sunshine by this rod on the circumference of the circle, and
this shadow will be–let us say– as broad as from a to n. Now
measure how many times this shadow will go into this circumference
of a circle, and that will give you the number of times that the
solar body will go into its orbit in 24 hours. Thus you may see
whether Epicurus was [right in] saying that the sun was only as
large as it looked; for, as the apparent diameter of the sun is
about a foot, and as that sun would go a thousand times into the
length of its course in 24 hours, it would have gone a thousand
feet, that is 300 braccia, which is the sixth of a mile. Whence it
would follow that the course of the sun during the day would be the
sixth part of a mile and that this venerable snail, the sun will
have travelled 25 braccia an hour.


Posidonius composed books on the size of the sun. [Footnote:
Poseidonius of Apamea, commonly called the Rhodian, because he
taught in Rhodes, was a Stoic philosopher, a contemporary and friend
of Cicero’s, and the author of numerous works on natural science,
among them.

Strabo quotes no doubt from one of his works, when he says that
Poseidonius explained how it was that the sun looked larger when it
was rising or setting than during the rest of its course (III, p.
135). Kleomedes, a later Greek Naturalist also mentions this
observation of Poseidonius’ without naming the title of his work;
however, as Kleomedes’ Cyclia Theorica was not printed till 1535,
Leonardo must have derived his quotation from Strabo. He probably
wrote this note in 1508, and as the original Greek was first printed
in Venice in 1516, we must suppose him to quote here from the
translation by Guarinus Veronensis, which was printed as early as
1471, also at Venice (H. MULLER-STRUBING).]

Of the nature of Sunlight.



Of the nature of Sunlight.

That the heat of the sun resides in its nature and not in its virtue
[or mode of action] is abundantly proved by the radiance of the
solar body on which the human eye cannot dwell and besides this no
less manifestly by the rays reflected from a concave mirror,
which–when they strike the eye with such splendour that the eye
cannot bear them–have a brilliancy equal to the sun in its own
place. And that this is true I prove by the fact that if the mirror
has its concavity formed exactly as is requisite for the collecting
and reflecting of these rays, no created being could endure the
heat that strikes from the reflected rays of such a mirror. And if
you argue that the mirror itself is cold and yet send forth hot
rays, I should reply that those rays come really from the sun and
that it is the ray of the concave mirror after having passed through
the window.

Considerations as to the size of the sun (886-891).


The sun does not move. [Footnote: This sentence occurs incidentally
among mathematical notes, and is written in unusually large



[Footnote: Lines 4 and fol. Compare Vol. I, Nos. 130, 131.] If it is
from the centre that the sun employs its radiance to intensify the
power of its whole mass, it is evident that the farther its rays
extend, the more widely they will be divided; and this being so,
you, whose eye is near the water that mirrors the sun, see but a
small portion of the rays of the sun strike the surface of the
water, and reflecting the form of the sun. But if you were near to
the sun–as would be the case when the sun is on the meridian and
the sea to the westward–you would see the sun, mirrored in the sea,
of a very great size; because, as you are nearer to the sun, your
eye taking in the rays nearer to the point of radiation takes more
of them in, and a great splendour is the result. And in this way it
can be proved that the moon must have seas which reflect the sun,
and that the parts which do not shine are land.


Take the measure of the sun at the solstice in mid-June.



Every object seen through a curved medium seems to be of larger size
than it is.

[Footnote: At A is written sole (the sun), at B terra (the


Because the eye is small it can only see the image of the sun as of
a small size. If the eye were as large as the sun it would see the
image of the sun in water of the same size as the real body of the
sun, so long as the water is smooth.



Take a piece of paper and pierce holes in it with a needle, and look
at the sun through these holes.



On the luminousity of the moon (892-901).



As I propose to treat of the nature of the moon, it is necessary
that first I should describe the perspective of mirrors, whether
plane, concave or convex; and first what is meant by a luminous ray,
and how it is refracted by various kinds of media; then, when a
reflected ray is most powerful, whether when the angle of incidence
is acute, right, or obtuse, or from a convex, a plane, or a concave
surface; or from an opaque or a transparent body. Besides this, how
it is that the solar rays which fall on the waves of the sea, are
seen by the eye of the same width at the angle nearest to the eye,
as at the highest line of the waves on the horizon; but
notwithstanding this the solar rays reflected from the waves of the
sea assume the pyramidal form and consequently, at each degree of
distance increase proportionally in size, although to our sight,
they appear as parallel.

1st. Nothing that has very little weight is opaque.

2dly. Nothing that is excessively weighty can remain beneath that
which is heavier.

3dly. As to whether the moon is situated in the centre of its
elements or not.

And, if it has no proper place of its own, like the earth, in the
midst of its elements, why does it not fall to the centre of our
elements? [Footnote 26: The problem here propounded by Leonardo was
not satisfactorily answered till Newton in 1682 formulated the law
of universal attraction and gravitation. Compare No. 902, lines

And, if the moon is not in the centre of its own elements and yet
does not fall, it must then be lighter than any other element.

And, if the moon is lighter than the other elements why is it opaque
and not transparent?

When objects of various sizes, being placed at various distances,
look of equal size, there must be the same relative proportion in
the distances as in the magnitudes of the objects.

[Footnote: In the diagram Leonardo wrote sole at the place marked



The image of the sun in the moon is powerfully luminous, and is only
on a small portion of its surface. And the proof may be seen by
taking a ball of burnished gold and placing it in the dark with a
light at some distance from it; and then, although it will
illuminate about half of the ball, the eye will perceive its
reflection only in a small part of its surface, and all the rest of
the surface reflects the darkness which surrounds it; so that it is
only in that spot that the image of the light is seen, and all the
rest remains invisible, the eye being at a distance from the ball.
The same thing would happen on the surface of the moon if it were
polished, lustrous and opaque, like all bodies with a reflecting

Show how, if you were standing on the moon or on a star, our earth
would seem to reflect the sun as the moon does.

And show that the image of the sun in the sea cannot appear one and
undivided, as it appears in a perfectly plane mirror.


How shadows are lost at great distances, as is shown by the shadow
side of the moon which is never seen. [Footnote: Compare also Vol.
I, Nos. 175-179.]


Either the moon has intrinsic luminosity or not. If it has, why does
it not shine without the aid of the sun? But if it has not any light
in itself it must of necessity be a spherical mirror; and if it is a
mirror, is it not proved in Perspective that the image of a luminous
object will never be equal to the extent of surface of the
reflecting body that it illuminates? And if it be thus [Footnote 13:
At A, in the diagram, Leonardo wrote “sole” (the sun), and at B
luna o noi terra” (the moon or our earth). Compare also the text
of No. 876.], as is here shown at r s in the figure, whence comes
so great an extent of radiance as that of the full moon as we see
it, at the fifteenth day of the moon?



The moon has no light in itself; but so much of it as faces the sun
is illuminated, and of that illumined portion we see so much as
faces the earth. And the moon’s night receives just as much light as
is lent it by our waters as they reflect the image of the sun, which
is mirrored in all those waters which are on the side towards the
sun. The outside or surface of the waters forming the seas of the
moon and of the seas of our globe is always ruffled little or much,
or more or less–and this roughness causes an extension of the
numberless images of the sun which are repeated in the ridges and
hollows, the sides and fronts of the innumerable waves; that is to
say in as many different spots on each wave as our eyes find
different positions to view them from. This could not happen, if the
aqueous sphere which covers a great part of the moon were uniformly
spherical, for then the images of the sun would be one to each
spectator, and its reflections would be separate and independent and
its radiance would always appear circular; as is plainly to be seen
in the gilt balls placed on the tops of high buildings. But if those
gilt balls were rugged or composed of several little balls, like
mulberries, which are a black fruit composed of minute round
globules, then each portion of these little balls, when seen in the
sun, would display to the eye the lustre resulting from the
reflection of the sun, and thus, in one and the same body many tiny
suns would be seen; and these often combine at a long distance and
appear as one. The lustre of the new moon is brighter and stronger,
than when the moon is full; and the reason of this is that the angle
of incidence is more obtuse in the new than in the full moon, in
which the angles [of incidence and reflection] are highly acute. The
waves of the moon therefore mirror the sun in the hollows of the
waves as well as on the ridges, and the sides remain in shadow. But
at the sides of the moon the hollows of the waves do not catch the
sunlight, but only their crests; and thus the images are fewer and
more mixed up with the shadows in the hollows; and this
intermingling of the shaded and illuminated spots comes to the eye
with a mitigated splendour, so that the edges will be darker,
because the curves of the sides of the waves are insufficient to
reflect to the eye the rays that fall upon them. Now the new moon
naturally reflects the solar rays more directly towards the eye from
the crests of the waves than from any other part, as is shown by the
form of the moon, whose rays a strike the waves b and are
reflected in the line b d, the eye being situated at d. This
cannot happen at the full moon, when the solar rays, being in the
west, fall on the extreme waters of the moon to the East from n to
m, and are not reflected to the eye in the West, but are thrown
back eastwards, with but slight deflection from the straight course
of the solar ray; and thus the angle of incidence is very wide

The moon is an opaque and solid body and if, on the contrary, it
were transparent, it would not receive the light of the sun.

The yellow or yolk of an egg remains in the middle of the albumen,
without moving on either side; now it is either lighter or heavier
than this albumen, or equal to it; if it is lighter, it ought to
rise above all the albumen and stop in contact with the shell of the
egg; and if it is heavier, it ought to sink, and if it is equal, it
might just as well be at one of the ends, as in the middle or below

[Footnote 48-64: Compare No. 861.]

The innumerable images of the solar rays reflected from the
innumerable waves of the sea, as they fall upon those waves, are
what cause us to see the very broad and continuous radiance on the
surface of the sea.


That the sun could not be mirrored in the body of the moon, which is
a convex mirror, in such a way as that so much of its surface as is
illuminated by the sun, should reflect the sun unless the moon had a
surface adapted to reflect it–in waves and ridges, like the surface
of the sea when its surface is moved by the wind.

[Footnote: In the original diagrams sole is written at the place
marked A; luna at C, and terra at the two spots marked B.]

The waves in water multiply the image of the object reflected in it.

These waves reflect light, each by its own line, as the surface of
the fir cone does [Footnote 14: See the diagram p. 145.]

These are 2 figures one different from the other; one with
undulating water and the other with smooth water.

It is impossible that at any distance the image of the sun cast on
the surface of a spherical body should occupy the half of the

Here you must prove that the earth produces all the same effects
with regard to the moon, as the moon with regard to the earth.

The moon, with its reflected light, does not shine like the sun,
because the light of the moon is not a continuous reflection of that
of the sun on its whole surface, but only on the crests and hollows
of the waves of its waters; and thus the sun being confusedly
reflected, from the admixture of the shadows that lie between the
lustrous waves, its light is not pure and clear as the sun is.

[Footnote 38: This refers to the small diagram placed between B
and B.–]. The earth between the moon on the fifteenth day and the
sun. [Footnote 39: See the diagram below the one referred to in the
preceding note.] Here the sun is in the East and the moon on the
fifteenth day in the West. [Footnote 40.41: Refers to the diagram
below the others.] The moon on the fifteenth [day] between the earth
and the sun. [41]Here it is the moon which has the sun to the West
and the earth to the East.



The moon is not of itself luminous, but is highly fitted to
assimilate the character of light after the manner of a mirror, or
of water, or of any other reflecting body; and it grows larger in
the East and in the West, like the sun and the other planets. And
the reason is that every luminous body looks larger in proportion as
it is remote. It is easy to understand that every planet and star is
farther from us when in the West than when it is overhead, by about
3500 miles, as is proved on the margin [Footnote 7: refers to the
first diagram.–A = sole (the sun), B = terra (the earth), C =
luna (the moon).], and if you see the sun or moon mirrored in the
water near to you, it looks to you of the same size in the water as
in the sky. But if you recede to the distance of a mile, it will
look 100 times larger; and if you see the sun reflected in the sea
at sunset, its image would look to you more than 10 miles long;
because that reflected image extends over more than 10 miles of sea.
And if you could stand where the moon is, the sun would look to you,
as if it were reflected from all the sea that it illuminates by day;
and the land amid the water would appear just like the dark spots
that are on the moon, which, when looked at from our earth, appears
to men the same as our earth would appear to any men who might dwell
in the moon.

[Footnote: This text has already been published by LIBRI: Histoire
des Sciences,
III, pp. 224, 225.]


When the moon is entirely lighted up to our sight, we see its full
daylight; and at that time, owing to the reflection of the solar
rays which fall on it and are thrown off towards us, its ocean casts
off less moisture towards us; and the less light it gives the more
injurious it is.



I say that as the moon has no light in itself and yet is luminous,
it is inevitable but that its light is caused by some other body.



All my opponent’s arguments to say that there is no water in the
moon. [Footnote: The objections are very minutely noted down in the
manuscript, but they hardly seem to have a place here.]


Answer to Maestro Andrea da Imola, who said that the solar rays
reflected from a convex mirror are mingled and lost at a short
distance; whereby it is altogether denied that the luminous side of
the moon is of the nature of a mirror, and that consequently the
light is not produced by the innumerable multitude of the waves of
that sea, which I declared to be the portion of the moon which is
illuminated by the solar rays.

Let o p be the body of the sun, c n s the moon, and b the eye
which, above the base c n of the cathetus c n m, sees the body
of the sun reflected at equal angles c n; and the same again on
moving the eye from b to a. [Footnote: The large diagram on the
margin of page 161 belongs to this chapter.]

Explanation of the lumen cinereum in the moon.



No solid body is less heavy than the atmosphere.

[Footnote: 1. On the margin are the words tola romantina,
tola–ferro stagnato
(tinned iron); romantina is some special
kind of sheet-iron no longer known by that name.]

Having proved that the part of the moon that shines consists of
water, which mirrors the body of the sun and reflects the radiance
it receives from it; and that, if these waters were devoid of waves,
it would appear small, but of a radiance almost like the sun; –[5]
It must now be shown whether the moon is a heavy or a light body:
for, if it were a heavy body–admitting that at every grade of
distance from the earth greater levity must prevail, so that water
is lighter than the earth, and air than water, and fire than air and
so on successively–it would seem that if the moon had density as it
really has, it would have weight, and having weight, that it could
not be sustained in the space where it is, and consequently that it
would fall towards the centre of the universe and become united to
the earth; or if not the moon itself, at least its waters would fall
away and be lost from it, and descend towards the centre, leaving
the moon without any and so devoid of lustre. But as this does not
happen, as might in reason be expected, it is a manifest sign that
the moon is surrounded by its own elements: that is to say water,
air and fire; and thus is, of itself and by itself, suspended in
that part of space, as our earth with its element is in this part of
space; and that heavy bodies act in the midst of its elements just
as other heavy bodies do in ours [Footnote 15: This passage would
certainly seem to establish Leonardo’s claim to be regarded as the
original discoverer of the cause of the ashy colour of the new moon
(lumen cinereum). His observations however, having hitherto
remained unknown to astronomers, Moestlin and Kepler have been
credited with the discoveries which they made independently a
century later.

Some disconnected notes treat of the same subject in MS. C. A. 239b;
718b and 719b; “Perche la luna cinta della parte alluminata dal
sole in ponente, tra maggior splendore in mezzo a tal cerchio, che
quando essa eclissava il sole. Questo accade perche nell’ eclissare
il sole ella ombrava il nostro oceano, il qual caso non accade
essendo in ponente, quando il sole alluma esso oceano
.” The editors
of the “Saggio” who first published this passage (page 12) add
another short one about the seasons in the moon which I confess not
to have seen in the original manuscript: “La luna ha ogni mese un
verno e una state, e ha maggiori freddi e maggiori caldi, e i suoi
equinozii son piu freddi de’ nostri.

When the eye is in the East and sees the moon in the West near to
the setting sun, it sees it with its shaded portion surrounded by
luminous portions; and the lateral and upper portion of this light
is derived from the sun, and the lower portion from the ocean in the
West, which receives the solar rays and reflects them on the lower
waters of the moon, and indeed affords the part of the moon that is
in shadow as much radiance as the moon gives the earth at midnight.
Therefore it is not totally dark, and hence some have believed that
the moon must in parts have a light of its own besides that which is
given it by the sun; and this light is due, as has been said, to the
above- mentioned cause,–that our seas are illuminated by the sun.

Again, it might be said that the circle of radiance shown by the
moon when it and the sun are both in the West is wholly borrowed
from the sun, when it, and the sun, and the eye are situated as is
shown above.

[Footnote 23. 24: The larger of the two diagrams reproduced above
stands between these two lines, and the smaller one is sketched in
the margin. At the spot marked A Leonardo wrote corpo solare
(solar body) in the larger diagram and Sole (sun) in the smaller
one. At C luna (moon) is written and at B terra (the earth).]

Some might say that the air surrounding the moon as an element,
catches the light of the sun as our atmosphere does, and that it is
this which completes the luminous circle on the body of the moon.

Some have thought that the moon has a light of its own, but this
opinion is false, because they have founded it on that dim light
seen between the hornes of the new moon, which looks dark where it
is close to the bright part, while against the darkness of the
background it looks so light that many have taken it to be a ring of
new radiance completing the circle where the tips of the horns
illuminated by the sun cease to shine [Footnote 34: See Pl. CVIII,
No. 5.]. And this difference of background arises from the fact that
the portion of that background which is conterminous with the bright
part of the moon, by comparison with that brightness looks darker
than it is; while at the upper part, where a portion of the luminous
circle is to be seen of uniform width, the result is that the moon,
being brighter there than the medium or background on which it is
seen by comparison with that darkness it looks more luminous at that
edge than it is. And that brightness at such a time itself is
derived from our ocean and other inland-seas. These are, at that
time, illuminated by the sun which is already setting in such a way
as that the sea then fulfils the same function to the dark side of
the moon as the moon at its fifteenth day does to us when the sun is
set. And the small amount of light which the dark side of the moon
receives bears the same proportion to the light of that side which
is illuminated, as that… [Footnote 42: Here the text breaks off;
lines 43-52 are written on the margin.].

If you want to see how much brighter the shaded portion of the moon
is than the background on which it is seen, conceal the luminous
portion of the moon with your hand or with some other more distant

On the spots in the moon (903-907).



Some have said that vapours rise from the moon, after the manner of
clouds and are interposed between the moon and our eyes. But, if
this were the case, these spots would never be permanent, either as
to position or form; and, seeing the moon from various aspects, even
if these spots did not move they would change in form, as objects do
which are seen from different sides.



Others say that the moon is composed of more or less transparent
parts; as though one part were something like alabaster and others
like crystal or glass. It would follow from this that the sun
casting its rays on the less transparent portions, the light would
remain on the surface, and so the denser part would be illuminated,
and the transparent portions would display the shadow of their
darker depths; and this is their account of the structure and nature
of the moon. And this opinion has found favour with many
philosophers, and particularly with Aristotle, and yet it is a false
view–for, in the various phases and frequent changes of the moon
and sun to our eyes, we should see these spots vary, at one time
looking dark and at another light: they would be dark when the sun
is in the West and the moon in the middle of the sky; for then the
transparent hollows would be in shadow as far as the tops of the
edges of those transparent hollows, because the sun could not then
fling his rays into the mouth of the hollows, which however, at full
moon, would be seen in bright light, at which time the moon is in
the East and faces the sun in the West; then the sun would
illuminate even the lowest depths of these transparent places and
thus, as there would be no shadows cast, the moon at these times
would not show us the spots in question; and so it would be, now
more and now less, according to the changes in the position of the
sun to the moon, and of the moon to our eyes, as I have said above.



It has been asserted, that the spots on the moon result from the
moon being of varying thinness or density; but if this were so, when
there is an eclipse of the moon the solar rays would pierce through
the portions which were thin as is alleged [Footnote 3-5: Eclissi.
This word, as it seems to me, here means eclipses of the sun; and
the sense of the passage, as I understand it, is that by the
foregoing hypothesis the moon, when it comes between the sun and the
earth must appear as if pierced,–we may say like a sieve.]. But as
we do not see this effect the opinion must be false.

Others say that the surface of the moon is smooth and polished and
that, like a mirror, it reflects in itself the image of our earth.
This view is also false, inasmuch as the land, where it is not
covered with water, presents various aspects and forms. Hence when
the moon is in the East it would reflect different spots from those
it would show when it is above us or in the West; now the spots on
the moon, as they are seen at full moon, never vary in the course of
its motion over our hemisphere. A second reason is that an object
reflected in a convex body takes up but a small portion of that
body, as is proved in perspective [Footnote 18: come e provato.
This alludes to the accompanying diagram.]. The third reason is that
when the moon is full, it only faces half the hemisphere of the
illuminated earth, on which only the ocean and other waters reflect
bright light, while the land makes spots on that brightness; thus
half of our earth would be seen girt round with the brightness of
the sea lighted up by the sun, and in the moon this reflection would
be the smallest part of that moon. Fourthly, a radiant body cannot
be reflected from another equally radiant; therefore the sea, since
it borrows its brightness from the sun,–as the moon does–, could
not cause the earth to be reflected in it, nor indeed could the body
of the sun be seen reflected in it, nor indeed any star opposite to


If you keep the details of the spots of the moon under observation
you will often find great variation in them, and this I myself have
proved by drawing them. And this is caused by the clouds that rise
from the waters in the moon, which come between the sun and those
waters, and by their shadow deprive these waters of the sun’s rays.
Thus those waters remain dark, not being able to reflect the solar


How the spots on the moon must have varied from what they formerly
were, by reason of the course of its waters.

On the moon’s halo.



I have found, that the circles which at night seem to surround the
moon, of various sizes, and degrees of density are caused by various
gradations in the densities of the vapours which exist at different
altitudes between the moon and our eyes. And of these halos the
largest and least red is caused by the lowest of these vapours; the
second, smaller one, is higher up, and looks redder because it is
seen through two vapours. And so on, as they are higher they will
appear smaller and redder, because, between the eye and them, there
is thicker vapour. Whence it is proved that where they are seen to
be reddest, the vapours are most dense.

On instruments for observing the moon (909. 910).


If you want to prove why the moon appears larger than it is, when it
reaches the horizon; take a lens which is highly convex on one
surface and concave on the opposite, and place the concave side next
the eye, and look at the object beyond the convex surface; by this
means you will have produced an exact imitation of the atmosphere
included beneath the sphere of fire and outside that of water; for
this atmosphere is concave on the side next the earth, and convex
towards the fire.


Construct glasses to see the moon magnified.

[Footnote: See the Introduction, p. 136, Fracastoro says in his work
Homocentres: “Per dua specilla ocularla si quis perspiciat, alteri
altero superposito, majora multo et propinquiora videbit
omnia.–Quin imo quaedam specilla ocularia fiunt tantae densitatis,
ut si per ea quis aut lunam, aut aliud siderum spectet, adeo
propinqua illa iudicet, ut ne turres ipsas excedant
” (sect. II c. 8
and sect. III, c. 23).]

******** 911 – 912 MISSING ***

when the sun is seen through the boughs of trees bare of their
leaves, at some distance the branches do not conceal any portion of
the sun from our eye. The same thing happens with the above
mentioned planets which, though they have no light of their own, do
not–as has been said–conceal any part of the sun from our eye


Some say that the stars appear most brilliant at night in proportion
as they are higher up; and that if they had no light of their own,
the shadow of the earth which comes between them and the sun, would
darken them, since they would not face nor be faced by the solar
body. But those persons have not considered that the conical shadow
of the earth cannot reach many of the stars; and even as to those it
does reach, the cone is so much diminished that it covers very
little of the star’s mass, and all the rest is illuminated by the


Why the planets appear larger in the East than they do overhead,
whereas the contrary should be the case, as they are 3500 miles
nearer to us when in mid sky than when on the horizon.

All the degrees of the elements, through which the images of the
celestial bodies pass to reach the eye, are equal curves and the
angles by which the central line of those images passes through
them, are unequal angles [Footnote 13: inequali, here and
elsewhere does not mean unequal in the sense of not being equal to
each other, but angles which are not right angles.]; and the
distance is greater, as is shown by the excess of a b beyond a
; and the enlargement of these celestial bodies on the horizon is
shown by the 9th of the 7th.

Observations on the stars.


To see the real nature of the planets open the covering and note at
the base [Footnote 4: basa. This probably alludes to some
instrument, perhaps the Camera obscura.] one single planet, and the
reflected movement of this base will show the nature of the said
planet; but arrange that the base may face only one at the time.

On history of astronomy.


Cicero says in [his book] De Divinatione that Astrology has been
practised five hundred seventy thousand years before the Trojan war.


[Footnote: The statement that CICERO, De Divin. ascribes the
discovery of astrology to a period 57000 years before the Trojan war
I believe to be quite erroneous. According to ERNESTI, Clavis
CH. G. SCHULZ (Lexic. Cicer.) and the edition of De
by GIESE the word Astrologia occurs only twice in CICERO:
De Divin. II, 42. Ad Chaldaeorum monstra veniamus, de quibus
Eudoxus, Platonis auditor, in astrologia judicio doctissimorum
hominum facile princeps, sic opinatur (id quod scriptum reliquit):
Chaldaeis in praedictione et in notatione cujusque vitae ex natali
die minime esse credendum.
” He then quotes the condemnatory verdict
of other philosophers as to the teaching of the Chaldaeans but says
nothing as to the antiquity and origin of astronomy. CICERO further
notes De oratore I, 16 that Aratus was “ignarus astrologiae” but
that is all. So far as I know the word occurs nowhere else in
CICERO; and the word Astronomia he does not seem to have used at

Of time and its divisions (916-918).


Although time is included in the class of Continuous Quantities,
being indivisible and immaterial, it does not come entirely under
the head of Geometry, which represents its divisions by means of
figures and bodies of infinite variety, such as are seen to be
continuous in their visible and material properties. But only with
its first principles does it agree, that is with the Point and the
Line; the point may be compared to an instant of time, and the line
may be likened to the length of a certain quantity of time, and just
as a line begins and terminates in a point, so such a space of time.
begins and terminates in an instant. And whereas a line is
infinitely divisible, the divisibility of a space of time is of the
same nature; and as the divisions of the line may bear a certain
proportion to each other, so may the divisions of time.

[Footnote: This passage is repeated word for word on page 190b of
the same manuscript and this is accounted for by the text in Vol. I,
No. 4. Compare also No. 1216.]


Describe the nature of Time as distinguished from the Geometrical


Divide an hour into 3000 parts, and this you can do with a clock by
making the pendulum lighter or heavier.


Physical Geography.

Leonardo’s researches as to the structure of the earth and sea were
made at a time, when the extended voyages of the Spaniards and
Portuguese had also excited a special interest in geographical
questions in Italy, and particularly in Tuscany. Still, it need
scarcely surprise us to find that in deeper questions, as to the
structure of the globe, the primitive state of the earth’s surface,
and the like, he was far in advance of his time.

The number of passages which treat of such matters is relatively
considerable; like almost all Leonardo’s scientific notes they deal
partly with theoretical and partly with practical questions. Some of
his theoretical views of the motion of water were collected in a
copied manuscript volume by an early transcriber, but without any
acknowledgment of the source whence they were derived. This copy is
now in the Library of the Barberini palace at Rome and was published
under the title: “De moto e misura dell’acqua,” by FRANCESCO
CARDINALI, Bologna_ 1828. In this work the texts are arranged under
the following titles:
Libr. I. Della spera dell’acqua; Libr. II.
Del moto dell’acqua; Libr. III. Dell’onda dell’acqua; Libr. IV. Dei
retrosi d’acqua; Libr. V. Dell’acqua cadente; Libr. VI. Delle
rotture fatte dall’acqua; Libr. VII Delle cose portate dall’acqua;
Libr. VIII. Dell’oncia dell’acqua e delle canne; Libr. IX. De molini
e d’altri ordigni d’acqua.

The large number of isolated observations scattered through the
manuscripts, accounts for our so frequently finding notes of new
schemes for the arrangement of those relating to water and its
motions, particularly in the Codex Atlanticus: I have printed
several of these plans as an introduction to the Physical Geography,
and I have actually arranged the texts in accordance with the clue
afforded by one of them which is undoubtedly one of the latest notes
referring to the subject (No.
920_). The text given as No._ 930
which is also taken from a late note-book of Leonardo’s, served as
a basis for the arrangement of the first of the seven books–or
sections–, bearing the title: Of the Nature of Water
in se).

As I have not made it any part of this undertaking to print the
passages which refer to purely physical principles, it has also been
necessary to exclude those practical researches which, in accordance
with indications given in
920, ought to come in as Books 13, 14
and 15. I can only incidentally mention here that Leonardo–as it
seems to me, especially in his youth–devoted a great deal of
attention to the construction of mills. This is proved by a number
of drawings of very careful and minute execution, which are to be
found in the Codex Atlanticus. Nor was it possible to include his
considerations on the regulation of rivers, the making of canals and
so forth (No.
920, Books 10, 11 and 12_); but those passages in
which the structure of a canal is directly connected with notices of
particular places will be found duly inserted under section XVII
(Topographical notes). In Vol. I, No._ 5 the text refers to
canal-making in general.

On one point only can the collection of passages included under the
general heading of Physical Geography claim to be complete. When
comparing and sorting the materials for this work I took particular
care not to exclude or omit any text in which a geographical name
was mentioned even incidentally, since in all such researches the
chief interest, as it appeared to me, attached to the question
whether these acute observations on the various local
characteristics of mountains, rivers or seas, had been made by
Leonardo himself, and on the spot. It is self-evident that the few
general and somewhat superficial observations on the Rhine and the
Danube, on England and Flanders, must have been obtained from maps
or from some informants, and in the case of Flanders Leonardo
himself acknowledges this (see No.
1008_). But that most of the
other and more exact observations were made, on the spot, by
Leonardo himself, may be safely assumed from their method and the
style in which he writes of them; and we should bear it in mind that
in all investigations, of whatever kind, experience is always spoken
of as the only basis on which he relies. Incidentally, as in No._
984, he thinks it necessary to allude to the total absence of all
recorded observations.



Schemes for the arrangement of the materials (919-928).


These books contain in the beginning: Of the nature of water itself
in its motions; the others treat of the effects of its currents,
which change the world in its centre and its shape.



Book 1 of water in itself.

Book 2 of the sea.

Book 3 of subterranean rivers.

Book 4 of rivers.

Book 5 of the nature of the abyss.

Book 6 of the obstacles.

Book 7 of gravels.

Book 8 of the surface of water.

Book 9 of the things placed therein.

Book 10 of the repairing of rivers.

Book 11 of conduits.

Book 12 of canals.

Book 13 of machines turned by water.

Book 14 of raising water.

Book 15 of matters worn away by water.


First you shall make a book treating of places occupied by fresh
waters, and the second by salt waters, and the third, how by the
disappearance of these, our parts of the world were made lighter and
in consequence more remote from the centre of the world.


First write of all water, in each of its motions; then describe all
its bottoms and their various materials, always referring to the
propositions concerning the said waters; and let the order be good,
for otherwise the work will be confused.

Describe all the forms taken by water from its greatest to its
smallest wave, and their causes.


Book 9, of accidental risings of water.



Place at the beginning what a river can effect.


A book of driving back armies by the force of a flood made by
releasing waters.

A book showing how the waters safely bring down timber cut in the

A book of boats driven against the impetus of rivers.

A book of raising large bridges higher. Simply by the swelling of
the waters.

A book of guarding against the impetus of rivers so that towns may
not be damaged by them.


A book of the ordering of rivers so as to preserve their banks.

A book of the mountains, which would stand forth and become land, if
our hemisphere were to be uncovered by the water.

A book of the earth carried down by the waters to fill up the great
abyss of the seas.

A book of the ways in which a tempest may of itself clear out filled
up sea-ports.

A book of the shores of rivers and of their permanency.

A book of how to deal with rivers, so that they may keep their
bottom scoured by their own flow near the cities they pass.

A book of how to make or to repair the foundations for bridges over
the rivers.

A book of the repairs which ought to be made in walls and banks of
rivers where the water strikes them.

A book of the formation of hills of sand or gravel at great depths
in water.


Water gives the first impetus to its motion.

A book of the levelling of waters by various means,

A book of diverting rivers from places where they do mischief.

A book of guiding rivers which occupy too much ground.

A book of parting rivers into several branches and making them

A book of the waters which with various currents pass through seas.

A book of deepening the beds of rivers by means of currents of

A book of controlling rivers so that the little beginnings of
mischief, caused by them, may not increase.

A book of the various movements of waters passing through channels
of different forms.

A book of preventing small rivers from diverting the larger one into
which their waters run.

A book of the lowest level which can be found in the current of the
surface of rivers.

A book of the origin of rivers which flow from the high tops of

A book of the various motions of waters in their rivers.


[1] Of inequality in the concavity of a ship. [Footnote 1: The first
line of this passage was added subsequently, evidently as a
correction of the following line.]

[1] A book of the inequality in the curve of the sides of ships.

[1] A book of the inequality in the position of the tiller.

[1] A book of the inequality in the keel of ships.

[2] A book of various forms of apertures by which water flows out.

[3] A book of water contained in vessels with air, and of its

[4] A book of the motion of water through a syphon. [Footnote 7:
cicognole, see No. 966, 11, 17.]

[5] A book of the meetings and union of waters coming from different

[6] A book of the various forms of the banks through which rivers

[7] A book of the various forms of shoals formed under the sluices
of rivers.

[8] A book of the windings and meanderings of the currents of

[9] A book of the various places whence the waters of rivers are

[10] A book of the configuration of the shores of rivers and of
their permanency.

[11] A book of the perpendicular fall of water on various objects.

[12] Abook of the course of water when it is impeded in various

[12] A book of the various forms of the obstacles which impede the
course of waters.

[13] A book of the concavity and globosity formed round various
objects at the bottom.

[14] Abook of conducting navigable canals above or beneath the
rivers which intersect them.

[15] A book of the soils which absorb water in canals and of
repairing them.

[16] Abook of creating currents for rivers, which quit their beds,
[and] for rivers choked with soil.

General introduction.



By the ancients man has been called the world in miniature; and
certainly this name is well bestowed, because, inasmuch as man is
composed of earth, water, air and fire, his body resembles that of
the earth; and as man has in him bones the supports and framework of
his flesh, the world has its rocks the supports of the earth; as man
has in him a pool of blood in which the lungs rise and fall in
breathing, so the body of the earth has its ocean tide which
likewise rises and falls every six hours, as if the world breathed;
as in that pool of blood veins have their origin, which ramify all
over the human body, so likewise the ocean sea fills the body of the
earth with infinite springs of water. The body of the earth lacks
sinews and this is, because the sinews are made expressely for
movements and, the world being perpetually stable, no movement takes
place, and no movement taking place, muscles are not necessary.
–But in all other points they are much alike.



The arrangement of Book I.



Define first what is meant by height and depth; also how the
elements are situated one inside another. Then, what is meant by
solid weight and by liquid weight; but first what weight and
lightness are in themselves. Then describe why water moves, and why
its motion ceases; then why it becomes slower or more rapid; besides
this, how it always falls, being in contact with the air but lower
than the air. And how water rises in the air by means of the heat of
the sun, and then falls again in rain; again, why water springs
forth from the tops of mountains; and if the water of any spring
higher than the ocean can pour forth water higher than the surface
of that ocean. And how all the water that returns to the ocean is
higher than the sphere of waters. And how the waters of the
equatorial seas are higher than the waters of the North, and higher
beneath the body of the sun than in any part of the equatorial
circle; for experiment shows that under the heat of a burning brand
the water near the brand boils, and the water surrounding this
ebullition always sinks with a circular eddy. And how the waters of
the North are lower than the other seas, and more so as they become
colder, until they are converted into ice.

Definitions (931. 932).



Among the four elements water is the second both in weight and in



Sea is the name given to that water which is wide and deep, in which
the waters have not much motion.

[Footnote: Only the beginning of this passage is here given, the
remainder consists of definitions which have no direct bearing on
the subject.]

Of the surface of the water in relation to the globe (933-936).


The centres of the sphere of water are two, one universal and common
to all water, the other particular. The universal one is that which
is common to all waters not in motion, which exist in great
quantities. As canals, ditches, ponds, fountains, wells, dead
rivers, lakes, stagnant pools and seas, which, although they are at
various levels, have each in itself the limits of their superficies
equally distant from the centre of the earth, such as lakes placed
at the tops of high mountains; as the lake near Pietra Pana and the
lake of the Sybil near Norcia; and all the lakes that give rise to
great rivers, as the Ticino from Lago Maggiore, the Adda from the
lake of Como, the Mincio from the lake of Garda, the Rhine from the
lakes of Constance and of Chur, and from the lake of Lucerne, like
the Tigris which passes through Asia Minor carrying with it the
waters of three lakes, one above the other at different heights of
which the highest is Munace, the middle one Pallas, and the lowest
Triton; the Nile again flows from three very high lakes in Ethiopia.

[Footnote 5: Pietra Pana, a mountain near Florence. If for Norcia,
we may read Norchia, the remains of the Etruscan city near Viterbo,
there can be no doubt that by ‘Lago della Sibilla‘–a name not
known elsewhere, so far as I can learn–Leonardo meant Lago di
(Lacus Ciminus, Aen. 7).]



The centre of the sphere of waters is the true centre of the globe
of our world, which is composed of water and earth, having the shape
of a sphere. But, if you want to find the centre of the element of
the earth, this is placed at a point equidistant from the surface of
the ocean, and not equidistant from the surface of the earth; for it
is evident that this globe of earth has nowhere any perfect
rotundity, excepting in places where the sea is, or marshes or other
still waters. And every part of the earth that rises above the water
is farther from the centre.



The shells, oysters, and other similar animals, which originate in
sea-mud, bear witness to the changes of the earth round the centre
of our elements. This is proved thus: Great rivers always run
turbid, being coloured by the earth, which is stirred by the
friction of their waters at the bottom and on their shores; and this
wearing disturbs the face of the strata made by the layers of
shells, which lie on the surface of the marine mud, and which were
produced there when the salt waters covered them; and these strata
were covered over again from time to time, with mud of various
thickness, or carried down to the sea by the rivers and floods of
more or less extent; and thus these layers of mud became raised to
such a height, that they came up from the bottom to the air. At the
present time these bottoms are so high that they form hills or high
mountains, and the rivers, which wear away the sides of these
mountains, uncover the strata of these shells, and thus the softened
side of the earth continually rises and the antipodes sink closer to
the centre of the earth, and the ancient bottoms of the seas have
become mountain ridges.


Let the earth make whatever changes it may in its weight, the
surface of the sphere of waters can never vary in its equal distance
from the centre of the world.

Of the proportion of the mass of water to that of the earth (937.



Some assert that it is true that the earth, which is not covered by
water is much less than that covered by water. But considering the
size of 7000 miles in diameter which is that of this earth, we may
conclude the water to be of small depth.



The great elevations of the peaks of the mountains above the sphere
of the water may have resulted from this that: a very large portion
of the earth which was filled with water that is to say the vast
cavern inside the earth may have fallen in a vast part of its vault
towards the centre of the earth, being pierced by means of the
course of the springs which continually wear away the place where
they pass.

Sinking in of countries like the Dead Sea in Syria, that is Sodom
and Gomorrah.

It is of necessity that there should be more water than land, and
the visible portion of the sea does not show this; so that there
must be a great deal of water inside the earth, besides that which
rises into the lower air and which flows through rivers and springs.

[Footnote: The small sketch below on the left, is placed in the
original close to the text referring to the Dead Sea.]

The theory of Plato.



Of the figures of the elements; and first as against those who deny
the opinions of Plato, and who say that if the elements include one
another in the forms attributed to them by Plato they would cause a
vacuum one within the other. I say it is not true, and I here prove
it, but first I desire to propound some conclusions. It is not
necessary that the elements which include each other should be of
corresponding magnitude in all the parts, of that which includes and
of that which is included. We see that the sphere of the waters
varies conspicuously in mass from the surface to the bottom, and
that, far from investing the earth when that was in the form of a
cube that is of 8 angles as Plato will have it, that it invests the
earth which has innumerable angles of rock covered by the water and
various prominences and concavities, and yet no vacuum is generated
between the earth and water; again, the air invests the sphere of
waters together with the mountains and valleys, which rise above
that sphere, and no vacuum remains between the earth and the air, so
that any one who says a vacuum is generated, speaks foolishly.

But to Plato I would reply that the surface of the figures which
according to him the elements would have, could not exist.

That the flow of rivers proves the slope of the land.



We see the Nile come from Southern regions and traverse various
provinces, running towards the North for a distance of 3000 miles
and flow into the Mediterranean by the shores of Egypt; and if we
will give to this a fall of ten braccia a mile, as is usually
allowed to the course of rivers in general, we shall find that the
Nile must have its mouth ten miles lower than its source. Again, we
see the Rhine, the Rhone and the Danube starting from the German
parts, almost the centre of Europe, and having a course one to the
East, the other to the North, and the last to Southern seas. And if
you consider all this you will see that the plains of Europe in
their aggregate are much higher than the high peaks of the maritime
mountains; think then how much their tops must be above the sea

Theory of the elevation of water within the mountains.



Where there is life there is heat, and where vital heat is, there is
movement of vapour. This is proved, inasmuch as we see that the
element of fire by its heat always draws to itself damp vapours and
thick mists as opaque clouds, which it raises from seas as well as
lakes and rivers and damp valleys; and these being drawn by degrees
as far as the cold region, the first portion stops, because heat and
moisture cannot exist with cold and dryness; and where the first
portion stops the rest settle, and thus one portion after another
being added, thick and dark clouds are formed. They are often wafted
about and borne by the winds from one region to another, where by
their density they become so heavy that they fall in thick rain; and
if the heat of the sun is added to the power of the element of fire,
the clouds are drawn up higher still and find a greater degree of
cold, in which they form ice and fall in storms of hail. Now the
same heat which holds up so great a weight of water as is seen to
rain from the clouds, draws them from below upwards, from the foot
of the mountains, and leads and holds them within the summits of the
mountains, and these, finding some fissure, issue continuously and
cause rivers.

The relative height of the surface of the sea to that of the land



b d is a plain through which a river flows to the sea; this plain
ends at the sea, and since in fact the dry land that is uncovered is
not perfectly level–for, if it were, the river would have no
motion–as the river does move, this place is a slope rather than a
plain; hence this plain d b so ends where the sphere of water
begins that if it were extended in a continuous line to b a it
would go down beneath the sea, whence it follows that the sea a c
looks higher than the dry land.

Obviously no portions of dry land left uncovered by water can ever
be lower than the surface of the watery sphere.



Certainly I wonder not a little at the common opinion which is
contrary to truth, but held by the universal consent of the judgment
of men. And this is that all are agreed that the surface of the sea
is higher than the highest peaks of the mountains; and they allege
many vain and childish reasons, against which I will allege only one
simple and short reason; We see plainly that if we could remove the
shores of the sea, it would invest the whole earth and make it a
perfect sphere. Now, consider how much earth would be carried away
to enable the waves of the sea to cover the world; therefore that
which would be carried away must be higher than the sea-shore.



Water would not move from place to place if it were not that it
seeks the lowest level and by a natural consequence it never can
return to a height like that of the place where it first on issuing
from the mountain came to light. And that portion of the sea which,
in your vain imagining, you say was so high that it flowed over the
summits of the high mountains, for so many centuries would be
swallowed up and poured out again through the issue from these
mountains. You can well imagine that all the time that Tigris and


have flowed from the summits of the mountains of Armenia, it must be
believed that all the water of the ocean has passed very many times
through these mouths. And do you not believe that the Nile must have
sent more water into the sea than at present exists of all the
element of water? Undoubtedly, yes. And if all this water had fallen
away from this body of the earth, this terrestrial machine would
long since have been without water. Whence we may conclude that the
water goes from the rivers to the sea, and from the sea to the
rivers, thus constantly circulating and returning, and that all the
sea and the rivers have passed through the mouth of the Nile an
infinite number of times [Footnote: Moti Armeni, Ermini in the
original, in M. RAVAISSON’S transcript “monti ernini [le loro
. He renders this “Le Tigre et l’Euphrate se sont deverses
par les sommets des montagnes [avec leurs eaux destructives?] on
pent cro’re” &c. Leonardo always writes _Ermini, Erminia
, for
Armeni, Armenia (Arabic: Irminiah). M. RAVAISSON also deviates
from the original in his translation of the following passage: “Or
tu ne crois pas que le Nil ait mis plus d’eau dans la mer qu’il n’y
en a a present dans tout l’element de l’eau. Il est certain que si
cette eau etait tombee
” &c.]



Refutation of Pliny’s theory as to the saltness of the sea (946.



Pliny says in his second book, chapter 103, that the water of the
sea is salt because the heat of the sun dries up the moisture and
drinks it up; and this gives to the wide stretching sea the savour
of salt. But this cannot be admitted, because if the saltness of the
sea were caused by the heat of the sun, there can be no doubt that
lakes, pools and marshes would be so much the more salt, as their
waters have less motion and are of less depth; but experience shows
us, on the contrary, that these lakes have their waters quite free
from salt. Again it is stated by Pliny in the same chapter that this
saltness might originate, because all the sweet and subtle portions
which the heat attracts easily being taken away, the more bitter and
coarser part will remain, and thus the water on the surface is
fresher than at the bottom [Footnote 22: Compare No. 948.]; but this
is contradicted by the same reason given above, which is, that the
same thing would happen in marshes and other waters, which are dried
up by the heat. Again, it has been said that the saltness of the sea
is the sweat of the earth; to this it may be answered that all the
springs of water which penetrate through the earth, would then be
salt. But the conclusion is, that the saltness of the sea must
proceed from the many springs of water which, as they penetrate into
the earth, find mines of salt and these they dissolve in part, and
carry with them to the ocean and the other seas, whence the clouds,
the begetters of rivers, never carry it up. And the sea would be
salter in our times than ever it was at any time; and if the
adversary were to say that in infinite time the sea would dry up or
congeal into salt, to this I answer that this salt is restored to
the earth by the setting free of that part of the earth which rises
out of the sea with the salt it has acquired, and the rivers return
it to the earth under the sea.

[Footnote: See PLINY, Hist. Nat. II, CIII [C]. Itaque Solis ardore
siccatur liquor: et hoc esse masculum sidus accepimus, torrens
cuncta sorbensque.
(cp. CIV.) Sic mari late patenti saporem
incoqui salis, aut quia exhausto inde dulci tenuique, quod facillime
trahat vis ignea, omne asperius crassiusque linquatur: ideo summa
aequorum aqua dulciorem profundam; hanc esse veriorem causam, quam
quod mare terrae sudor sit aeternus: aut quia plurimum ex arido
misceatur illi vapore: aut quia terrae natura sicut medicatas aquas
… (cp. CV): altissimum mare XV. stadiorum Fabianus
tradit. Alii n Ponto coadverso Coraxorum gentis (vocant B Ponti)
trecentis fere a continenti stadiis immensam altitudinem maris
tradunt, vadis nunquam repertis.
(cp. CVI [CIII]) Mirabilius id
faciunt aquae dulces, juxta mare, ut fistulis emicantes. Nam nec
aquarum natura a miraculis cessat. Dulces mari invehuntur, leviores
haud dubie. Ideo et marinae, quarum natura gravior, magis invecta
sustinent. Quaedam vero et dulces inter se supermeant alias.


For the third and last reason we will say that salt is in all
created things; and this we learn from water passed over the ashes
and cinders of burnt things; and the urine of every animal, and the
superfluities issuing from their bodies, and the earth into which
all things are converted by corruption.

But,–to put it better,–given that the world is everlasting, it
must be admitted that its population will also be eternal; hence the
human species has eternally been and would be consumers of salt; and
if all the mass of the earth were to be turned into salt, it would
not suffice for all human food [Footnote 27: That is, on the
supposition that salt, once consumed, disappears for ever.]; whence
we are forced to admit, either that the species of salt must be
everlasting like the world, or that it dies and is born again like
the men who devour it. But as experience teaches us that it does not
die, as is evident by fire, which does not consume it, and by water
which becomes salt in proportion to the quantity dissolved in
it,–and when it is evaporated the salt always remains in the
original quantity–it must pass through the bodies of men either in
the urine or the sweat or other excretions where it is found again;
and as much salt is thus got rid of as is carried every year into
towns; therefore salt is dug in places where there is urine.– Sea
hogs and sea winds are salt.

We will say that the rains which penetrate the earth are what is
under the foundations of cities with their inhabitants, and are what
restore through the internal passages of the earth the saltness
taken from the sea; and that the change in the place of the sea,
which has been over all the mountains, caused it to be left there in
the mines found in those mountains, &c.

The characteristics of sea water (948. 949).


The waters of the salt sea are fresh at the greatest depths.



The ocean does not penetrate under the earth, and this we learn from
the many and various springs of fresh water which, in many parts of
the ocean make their way up from the bottom to the surface. The same
thing is farther proved by wells dug beyond the distance of a mile
from the said ocean, which fill with fresh water; and this happens
because the fresh water is lighter than salt water and consequently
more penetrating.

Which weighs most, water when frozen or when not frozen?


That fresh water penetrates more against salt water, than salt water
against fresh is proved by a thin cloth dry and old, hanging with
the two opposite ends equally low in the two different waters, the
surfaces of which are at an equal level; and it will then be seen
how much higher the fresh water will rise in this piece of linen
than the salt; by so much is the fresh lighter than the salt.

On the formation of Gulfs (950. 951).


All inland seas and the gulfs of those seas, are made by rivers
which flow into the sea.



All the lakes and all the gulfs of the sea and all inland seas are
due to rivers which distribute their waters into them, and from
impediments in their downfall into the Mediterranean –which divides
Africa from Europe and Europe from Asia by means of the Nile and the
Don which pour their waters into it. It is asked what impediment is
great enough to stop the course of the waters which do not reach the

On the encroachments of the sea on the land and vice versa



A wave of the sea always breaks in front of its base, and that
portion of the crest will then be lowest which before was highest.

[Footnote: The page of FRANCESCO DI GIORGIO’S Trattato, on which
Leonardo has written this remark, contains some notes on the
construction of dams, harbours &c.]


That the shores of the sea constantly acquire more soil towards the
middle of the sea; that the rocks and promontories of the sea are
constantly being ruined and worn away; that the Mediterranean seas
will in time discover their bottom to the air, and all that will be
left will be the channel of the greatest river that enters it; and
this will run to the ocean and pour its waters into that with those
of all the rivers that are its tributaries.


How the river Po, in a short time might dry up the Adriatic sea in
the same way as it has dried up a large part of Lombardy.

The ebb and flow of the tide (955-960).


Where there is a larger quantity of water, there is a greater flow
and ebb, but the contrary in narrow waters.

Look whether the sea is at its greatest flow when the moon is half
way over our hemisphere [on the meridian].


Whether the flow and ebb are caused by the moon or the sun, or are
the breathing of this terrestrial machine. That the flow and ebb are
different in different countries and seas.

[Footnote: 1. Allusion may here be made to the mythological
explanation of the ebb and flow given in the Edda. Utgardloki says
to Thor (Gylfaginning 48): “When thou wert drinking out of the horn,
and it seemed to thee that it was slow in emptying a wonder befell,
which I should not have believed possible: the other end of the horn
lay in the sea, which thou sawest not; but when thou shalt go to the
sea, thou shalt see how much thou hast drunk out of it. And that men
now call the ebb tide.”

Several passages in various