Part 15 out of 17
loose sheets, of which the Codex Atlanticus has been formed, these
happen to be placed close to this text. The compiler stuck both on
the same folio sheet; and if this is not the reason for Dr. JORDAN'S
choosing such a title (Description &c.) I cannot imagine what it can
have been. It is, at any rate, a merely hypothetical statement. The
designation of the population of the country round a city as "the
enemy" (_nemici_) is hardly appropriate to Italy in the time of
Leonardo.] it had not been for certain people who succoured us with
victuals, all would have died of hunger. Now you see the state we
are in. And all these evils are as nothing compared with those which
are promised to us shortly.
I know that as a friend you will grieve for my misfortunes, as I, in
former letters have shown my joy at your prosperity ...
[Footnote: 1337. On comparing this commencement of a letter l. 1-2
with that in l. 3 and 4 of No. 1336 it is quite evident that both
refer to the same event. (Compare also No. 1337 l. 10-l2 and 17 with
No. 1336 l. 23, 24 and 32.) But the text No. 1336, including the
fragment l. 3-4, was obviously written later than the draft here
reproduced. The _Diodario_ is not directly addressed--the person
addressed indeed is not known--and it seems to me highly probable
that it was written to some other patron and friend whose name and
position are not mentioned.]
Notes about events observed abroad (1338-1339).
BOOK 43. OF THE MOVEMENT OF AIR ENCLOSED IN WATER.
I have seen motions of the air so furious that they have carried,
mixed up in their course, the largest trees of the forest and whole
roofs of great palaces, and I have seen the same fury bore a hole
with a whirling movement digging out a gravel pit, and carrying
gravel, sand and water more than half a mile through the air.
[Footnote: The first sixteen lines of this passage which treat of
the subject as indicated on the title line have no place in this
connexion and have been omitted.]
*[Footnote 2: _Ho veduto movimenti_ &c. Nothing of the kind happened
in Italy during Leonardo's lifetime, and it is therefore extremely
probable that this refers to the natural phenomena which are so
fully described in the foregoing passage. (Compare too, No. 1021.)
There can be no doubt that the descriptions of the Deluge in the
Libro di Pittura (Vol. I, No. 607-611), and that of the fall of a
mountain No. 610, l. 17-30 were written from the vivid impressions
derived from personal experience. Compare also Pl. XXXIV-XL.]
Like a whirling wind which rushes down a sandy and hollow valley,
and which, in its hasty course, drives to its centre every thing
that opposes its furious course ...
No otherwise does the Northern blast whirl round in its tempestuous
**[Footnote: It may be inferred from the character of the writing,
which is in the style of the note in facsimile Vol. I, p. 297, that
this passage was written between 1470 and 1480. As the figure 6 at
the end of the text indicates, it was continued on another page, but
I have searched in vain for it. The reverse of this leaf is coloured
red for drawing in silver point, but has not been used for that
purpose but for writing on, and at about the same date. The passages
are given as Nos. 1217, 1218, 1219, 1162 and No. 994 (see note page
218). The text given above is obviously not a fragment of a letter,
but a record of some personal experience. No. 1379 also seems to
refer to Leonardo's journeys in Southern Italy.]
Nor does the tempestuous sea bellow so loud, when the Northern blast
dashes it, with its foaming waves between Scylla and Charybdis; nor
Stromboli, nor Mount Etna, when their sulphurous flames, having been
forcibly confined, rend, and burst open the mountain, fulminating
stones and earth through the air together with the flames they
Nor when the inflamed caverns of Mount Etna **[Footnote 13:
Mongibello is a name commonly given in Sicily to Mount Etna (from
Djebel, Arab.=mountain). Fr. FERRARA, _Descrizione dell' Etna con la
storia delle *eruzioni_ (Palermo, 1818, p. 88) tells us, on the
authority of the _Cronaca del Monastero Benedettino di Licordia_ of
an eruption of the Volcano with a great flow of lava on Sept. 21,
1447. The next records of the mountain are from the years 1533 and
1536. A. Percy neither does mention any eruptions of Etna during the
years to which this note must probably refer _Memoire des
tremblements de terre de la peninsule italique, Vol. XXII des
Memoires couronnees et Memoires des savants etrangers. Academie
Royal de Belgique_).
A literal interpretation of the passage would not, however, indicate
an allusion to any great eruption; particularly in the connection
with Stromboli, where the periodical outbreaks in very short
intervals are very striking to any observer, especially at night
time, when passing the island on the way from Naples to Messina.],
rejecting the ill-restained element vomit it forth, back to its own
region, driving furiously before it every obstacle that comes in the
way of its impetuous rage ...
Unable to resist my eager desire and wanting to see the great ... of
the various and strange shapes made by formative nature, and having
wandered some distance among gloomy rocks, I came to the entrance of
a great cavern, in front of which I stood some time, astonished and
unaware of such a thing. Bending my back into an arch I rested my
left hand on my knee and held my right hand over my down-cast and
contracted eye brows: often bending first one way and then the
other, to see whether I could discover anything inside, and this
being forbidden by the deep darkness within, and after having
remained there some time, two contrary emotions arose in me, fear
and desire--fear of the threatening dark cavern, desire to see
whether there were any marvellous thing within it ...
Drafts of Letters to Lodovico il Moro (1340-1345).
Most illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the
specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of
instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said
instruments are nothing different to those in common use: I shall
endeavour, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to
your Excellency showing your Lordship my secrets, and then offering
them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at
opportune moments as well as all those things which, in part, shall
be briefly noted below.
[Footnote: The numerous corrections, the alterations in the figures
(l. 18) and the absence of any signature prove that this is merely
the rough draft of a letter to Lodovico il Moro. It is one of the
very few manuscripts which are written from left to right--see the
facsimile of the beginning as here reproduced. This is probably the
final sketch of a document the clean of which copy was written in
the usual manner. Leonardo no doubt very rarely wrote so, and this
is probably the reason of the conspicuous dissimilarity in the
handwriting, when he did. (Compare Pl. XXXVIII.) It is noteworthy
too that here the orthography and abbreviations are also
exceptional. But such superficial peculiarities are not enough to
stamp the document as altogether spurious. It is neither a forgery
nor the production of any artist but Leonardo himself. As to this
point the contents leave us no doubt as to its authenticity,
particularly l. 32 (see No. 719, where this passage is repeated).
But whether the fragment, as we here see it, was written from
Leonardo's dictation--a theory favoured by the orthography, the
erasures and corrections--or whether it may be a copy made for or by
Melzi or Mazenta is comparatively unimportant. There are in the
Codex Atlanticus a few other documents not written by Leonardo
himself, but the notes in his own hand found on the reverse pages of
these leaves amply prove that they were certainly in Leonardo's
possession. This mark of ownership is wanting to the text in
question, but the compilers of the Codex Atlanticus, at any rate,
accepted it as a genuine document.
With regard to the probable date of this projected letter see Vol.
II, p. 3.]
1) I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to
be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any
time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by
fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods
of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
2) I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of
the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways
and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.
3) Item. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength
of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a
place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods
for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded
on a rock, &c.
4) Again I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry;
and with these can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and
with the smoke of these causing great terror to the enemy, to his
great detriment and confusion.
9) * And when the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many
machines most efficient for offence and defence; and vessels which
will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.
5) Item.* I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made
without noise to reach a designated [spot], even if it were needed
to pass under a trench or a river.
6) Item. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable which,
entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of
men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry
could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.
7) Item. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars and light
ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.
8) Where the operation of bombardment should fail, I would contrive
catapults, mangonels, _trabocchi_ and other machines of marvellous
efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the
variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of
offence and defence.
10) In time of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and
to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of
buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to
Item: I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze or clay, and also
in painting whatever may be done, and as well as any other, be he
whom he may.
 Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to
the immortal glory and eternal honour of the prince your father of
happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.
And if any one of the above-named things seem to any one to be
impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment
in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency--to
whom I commend myself with the utmost humility &c.
To my illustrious Lord, Lodovico, Duke of Bari, Leonardo da Vinci of
[Footnote: Evidently a note of the superscription of a letter to the
Duke, and written, like the foregoing from left to right. The
manuscript containing it is of the year 1493. Lodovico was not
proclaimed and styled Duke of Milan till September 1494. The Dukedom
of Bari belonged to the Sforza family till 1499.]
You would like to see a model which will prove useful to you and to
me, also it will be of use to those who will be the cause of our
[Footnote: 1342. 1343. These two notes occur in the same not very
voluminous MS. as the former one and it is possible that they are
fragments of the same letter. By the _Modello_, the equestrian
statue is probably meant, particularly as the model of this statue
was publicly exhibited in this very year, 1493, on tne occasion of
the marriage of the Emperor Maximilian with Bianca Maria Sforza.]
There are here, my Lord, many gentlemen who will undertake this
expense among them, if they are allowed to enjoy the use of
admission to the waters, the mills, and the passage of vessels and
when it is sold to them the price will be repaid to them by the
canal of Martesana.
I am greatly vexed to be in necessity, but I still more regret that
this should be the cause of the hindrance of my wish which is always
disposed to obey your Excellency.
Perhaps your Excellency did not give further orders to Messer
Gualtieri, believing that I had money enough.
I am greatly annoyed that you should have found me in necessity, and
that my having to earn my living should have hindered me ...
 It vexes me greatly that having to earn my living has forced me
to interrupt the work and to attend to small matters, instead of
following up the work which your Lordship entrusted to me. But I
hope in a short time to have earned so much that I may carry it out
quietly to the satisfaction of your Excellency, to whom I commend
myself; and if your Lordship thought that I had money, your Lordship
was deceived. I had to feed 6 men for 56 months, and have had 50
And if any other comission is given me by any ... of the reward of
my service. Because I am not [able] to be ... things assigned
because meanwhile they have ... to them ... ... which they well may
settle rather than I ... not my art which I wish to change and ...
given some clothing if I dare a sum ...
[Footnote: The paper on which this is written is torn down the
middle; about half of each line remains.]
My Lord, I knowing your Excellency's mind to be occupied ... to
remind your Lordship of my small matters and the arts put to silence
that my silence might be the cause of making your Lordship scorn ...
my life in your service. I hold myself ever in readiness to obey ...
[Footnote 11: See No. 723, where this passage is repeated.] Of the
horse I will say nothing because I know the times [are bad] to your
Lordship how I had still to receive two years' salary of the ...
with the two skilled workmen who are constantly in my pay and at my
cost that at last I found myself advanced the said sum about 15 lire
... works of fame by which I could show to those who shall see it
that I have been everywhere, but I do not know where I could bestow
my work [more] ...
[Footnote 17: See No. 1344 l. 12.] I, having been working to gain my
I not having been informed what it is, I find myself ...
[Footnote 19: In April, 1498, Leonardo was engaged in painting the
Saletta Nigra of the Castello at Milan. (See G. MONGERI, _l'Arte in
Milano_, 1872, p. 417.)] remember the commission to paint the rooms
I conveyed to your Lordship only requesting you ...
Draft of letter to be sent to Piacenza (1346. 1347).
Magnificent Commissioners of Buildings I, understanding that your
Magnificencies have made up your minds to make certain great works
in bronze, will remind you of certain things: first that you should
not be so hasty or so quick to give the commission, lest by this
haste it should become impossible to select a good model and a good
master; and some man of small merit may be chosen, who by his
insufficiency may cause you to
**[Footnote: **1346. 1347. Piacenza belonged to Milan. The Lord
spoken of in this letter, is no doubt Lodovico il Moro. One may
infer from the concluding sentence (No. 1346, l. 33. 34 and No.
1347), that Leonardo, who no doubt compiled this letter, did not
forward it to Piacenza himself, but gave it to some influential
patron, under whose name and signature a copy of it was sent to the
Commission.] be abused by your descendants, judging that this age
was but ill supplied with men of good counsel and with good masters;
seeing that other cities, and chiefly the city of the Florentines,
has been as it were in these very days, endowed with beautiful and
grand works in bronze; among which are the doors of their
Baptistery. And this town of Florence, like Piacenza, is a place of
intercourse, through which many foreigners pass; who, seeing that
the works are fine and of good quality, carry away a good
impression, and will say that that city is well filled with worthy
inhabitants, seeing the works which bear witness to their opinion;
and on the other hand, I say seeing so much metal expended and so
badly wrought, it were less shame to the city if the doors had been
of plain wood; because, the material, costing so little, would not
seem to merit any great outlay of skill...
Now the principal parts which are sought for in cities are their
cathedrals, and of these the first things which strike the eye are
the doors, by which one passes into these churches.
Beware, gentlemen of the Commission, lest too great speed in your
determination, and so much haste to expedite the entrusting of so
great a work as that which I hear you have ordered, be the cause
that that which was intended for the honour of God and of men should
be turned to great dishonour of your judgments, and of your city,
which, being a place of mark, is the resort and gathering-place of
innumerable foreigners. And this dishonour would result if by your
lack of diligence you were to put your trust in some vaunter, who by
his tricks or by favour shown to him here should obtain such work
from you, by which lasting and very great shame would result to him
and to you. Thus I cannot help being angry when I consider what men
those are who have conferred with you as wishing to undertake this
great work without thinking of their sufficiency for it, not to say
more. This one is a potter, that one a maker of cuirasses, this one
is a bell-founder, another a bell ringer, and one is even a
bombardier; and among them one in his Lordship's service, who
boasted that he was the gossip of Messer Ambrosio Ferrere [Footnote
26: Messer Ambrogio Ferrere was Farmer of the Customs under the
Duke. Piacenza at that time belonged to Milan.], who has some power
and who has made him some promises; and if this were not enough he
would mount on horseback, and go to his Lord and obtain such letters
that you could never refuse [to give] him the work. But consider
where masters of real talent and fit for such work are brought when
they have to compete with such men as these. Open your eyes and look
carefully lest your money should be spent in buying your own
disgrace. I can declare to you that from that place you will procure
none but average works of inferior and coarse masters. There is no
capable man,-- and you may believe me,--except Leonardo the
Florentine, who is making the equestrian statue in bronze of the
Duke Francesco and who has no need to bring himself into notice,
because he has work for all his life time; and I doubt, whether
being so great a work, he will ever finish it .
The miserable painstakers ... with what hope may they expect a
reward of their merit?
There is one whom his Lordship invited from Florence to do this work
and who is a worthy master, but with so very much business he will
never finish it; and you may imagine that a difference there is to
be seen between a beautiful object and an ugly one. Quote Pliny.
Letter to the Cardinal Ippolito d' Este.
Most Illustrious and most Reverend Lord. The Lord Ippolito, Cardinal
of Este at Ferrare.
Most Illustrious and most Reverend Lord.
I arrived from Milan but a few days since and finding that my elder
brother refuses to
**[Footnote: This letter addressed to the Cardinal Ippolito d'Este
is here given from Marchese G. CAMPORI'S publication: _Nuovi
documenti per la Vita di Leonardo da Vinci. Atti e Memorie delle R.
R. Deputazioni di Storia patria per la provincie modenesi e par-
_menesi, Vol. III._ It is the only text throughout this work which I
have not myself examined and copied from the original. The learned
discoverer of this letter--the only letter from Leonardo hitherto
known as having been sent--adds these interesting remarks: _Codesto
Cardinale nato ad Ercole I. nel 1470, arcivescovo di Strigonia a
sette anni, poi d'Agra, aveva conseguito nel 1497 la pingue ed
ambita cattedra di Milano, la dove avra conosciuto il Vinci, sebbene
il poco amore ch'ei professava alle arti lasci credere che le
proteste di servitu di Leonardo piu che a gratitudine per favori
ricevuti e per opere a lui allogate, accennino a speranza per un
favore che si aspetta. Notabile e ancora in questo prezioso
documento la ripetuta signatura del grande artista 'che si scrive
Vincio e Vincius, non da Vinci come si tiene comunemente, sebbene
l'una e l'altra possano valere a significare cosi il casato come il
paese; restando a sapere se il nome del paese di Vinci fosse assunto
a cognome della famiglia di Leonardo nel qual supposto piu
propriamento avrebbe a chiamarsi Leonardo Vinci, o Vincio
(latinamente Vincius) com'egli stesso amo segnarsi in questa
lettera, e come scrissero parecchi contenporanei di lui, il Casio,
il Cesariano, Geoffrey Tory, il Gaurico, il Bandello, Raffaelle
Maffei, il Paciolo. Per ultimo non lascero d'avvertire come la
lettera del Vinci e assai ben conservata, di nitida e larga
scrittura in forma pienemente corrispondente a quella dei suoi
manoscritti, vergata all'uso comune da sinistra a destra, anziche
contrariamente come fu suo costume; ma indubbiamente autentica e
fornita della menzione e del suggello che fresca ancora conserva
l'impronta di una testa di profilo da un picciolo antico cammeo._
(Compare No. 1368, note.)]
carry into effect a will, made three years ago when my father
died--as also, and no less, because I would not fail in a matter I
esteem most important--I cannot forbear to crave of your most
Reverend Highness a letter of recommendation and favour to Ser
Raphaello Hieronymo, at present one of the illustrious members of
the Signoria before whom my cause is being argued; and more
particularly it has been laid by his Excellency the Gonfaloniere
into the hands of the said Ser Raphaello, that his Worship may have
to decide and end it before the festival of All Saints. And
therefore, my Lord, I entreat you, as urgently as I know how and am
able, that your Highness will write a letter to the said Ser
Raphaello in that admirable and pressing manner which your Highness
can use, recommending to him Leonardo Vincio, your most humble
servant as I am, and shall always be; requesting him and pressing
him not only to do me justice but to do so with despatch; and I have
not the least doubt, from many things that I hear, that Ser
Raphaello, being most affectionately devoted to your Highness, the
matter will issue _ad votum_. And this I shall attribute to your
most Reverend Highness' letter, to whom I once more humbly commend
myself. _Et bene valeat_.
Florence XVIIIa 7bris 1507. E. V. R. D.
your humble servant Leonardus Vincius, pictor.
Draft of Letter to the Governor of Milan.
I am afraid lest the small return I have made for the great
benefits, I have received from your Excellency, have not made you
somewhat angry with me, and that this is why to so many letters
which I have written to your Lordship I have never had an answer. I
now send Salai to explain to your Lordship that I am almost at an
end of the litigation I had with my brother; that I hope to find
myself with you this Easter, and to carry with me two pictures of
two Madonnas of different sizes. These were done for our most
Christian King, or for whomsoever your Lordship may please. I should
be very glad to know on my return thence where I may have to reside,
for I would not give any more trouble to your Lordship. Also, as I
have worked for the most Christian King, whether my salary is to
continue or not. I wrote to the President as to that water which the
king granted me, and which I was not put in possession of because at
that time there was a dearth in the canal by reason of the great
droughts and because [Footnote:Compare Nos. 1009 and 1010. Leonardo
has noted the payment of the pension from the king in 1505.] its
outlets were not regulated; but he certainly promised me that when
this was done I should be put in possession. Thus I pray your
Lordship that you will take so much trouble, now that these outlets
are regulated, as to remind the President of my matter; that is, to
give me possession of this water, because on my return I hope to
make there instruments and other things which will greatly please
our most Christian King. Nothing else occurs to me. I am always
yours to command. [Footnote:1349. Charles d'Amboise, Marechal de
Chaumont, was Governor of Milan under Louis XII. Leonardo was in
personal communication with him so early as in 1503. He was absent
from Milan in the autumn of 1506 and from October l5l0--when he
besieged Pope Julius II. in Bologna--till his death, which took
place at Correggio, February 11, 1511. Francesco Vinci, Leonardo's
uncle, died--as Amoretti tells us--in the winter of l5l0-11 (or
according to Uzielli in 1506?), and Leonardo remained in Florence
for business connected with his estate. The letter written with
reference to this affair, No. 1348, is undoubtedly earlier than the
letters Nos. 1349 and 1350. Amoretti tells us, _Memorie Storiche_,
ch. II, that the following note existed on the same leaf in MS. C.
A. I have not however succeeded in finding it. The passage runs
thus: _Jo sono quasi al fine del mio letizio che io o con mie
fratetgli ... Ancora ricordo a V. Excia la facenda che o cum Ser
Juliana mio Fratello capo delli altri fratelli ricordandoli come se
offerse di conciar le cose nostre fra noi fratelli del comune della
eredita de mio Zio, e quelli costringa alla expeditione, quale
conteneva la lettera che lui me mando._]
C. A. 364b; 1138b]
Drafts of Letters to the Superintendent of Canals and to Fr. Melzi.
Magnificent President, I am sending thither Salai, my pupil, who is
the bearer of this, and from him you will hear by word of mouth the
cause of my...
Magnificent President, I...
Magnificent President:--Having ofttimes remembered the proposals
made many times to me by your Excellency, I take the liberty of
writing to remind your Lordship of the promise made to me at my last
departure, that is the possession of the twelve inches of water
granted to me by the most Christian King. Your Lordship knows that I
did not enter into possession, because at that time when it was
given to me there was a dearth of water in the canal, as well by
reason of the great drought as also because the outlets were not
regulated; but your Excellency promised me that as soon as this was
done, I should have my rights. Afterwards hearing that the canal was
complete I wrote several times to your Lordship and to Messer
Girolamo da Cusano,who has in his keeping the deed of this gift; and
so also I wrote to Corigero and never had a reply. I now send
thither Salai, my pupil, the bearer of this, to whom your Lordship
may tell by word of mouth all that happened in the matter about
which I petition your Excellency. I expect to go thither this Easter
since I am nearly at the end of my lawsuit, and I will take with me
two pictures of our Lady which I have begun, and at the present time
have brought them on to a very good end; nothing else occurs to me.
My Lord the love which your Excellency has always shown me and the
benefits that I have constantly received from you I have hitherto...
I am fearful lest the small return I have made for the great
benefits I have received from your Excellency may not have made you
somewhat annoyed with me. And this is why, to many letters which I
have written to your Excellency I have never had an answer. I now
send to you Salai to explain to your Excellency that I am almost at
the end of my litigation with my brothers, and that I hope to be
with you this Easter and carry with me two pictures on which are two
Madonnas of different sizes which I began for the most Christian
King, or for whomsoever you please. I should be very glad to know
where, on my return from this place, I shall have to reside, because
I do not wish to give more trouble to your Lordship; and then,
having worked for the most Christian King, whether my salary is to
be continued or not. I write to the President as to the water that
the king granted me of which I had not been put in possession by
reason of the dearth in the canal, caused by the great drought and
because its outlets were not regulated; but he promised me certainly
that as soon as the regulation was made, I should be put in
possession of it; I therefore pray you that, if you should meet the
said President, you would be good enough, now that the outlets are
regulated, to remind the said President to cause me to be put in
possession of that water, since I understand it is in great measure
in his power. Nothing else occurs to me; always yours to command.
Good day to you Messer Francesco. Why, in God's name, of all the
letters I have written to you, have you never answered one. Now wait
till I come, by God, and I shall make you write so much that perhaps
you will become sick of it.
Dear Messer Francesco. I am sending thither Salai to learn from His
Magnificence the President to what end the regulation of the water
has come since, at my departure this regulation of the outlets of
the canal had been ordered, because His Magnificence the President
promised me that as soon as this was done I should be satisfied. It
is now some time since I heard that the canal was in order, as also
its outlets, and I immediately wrote to the President and to you,
and then I repeated it, and never had an answer. So you will have
the goodness to answer me as to that which happened, and as I am not
to hurry the matter, would you take the trouble, for the love of me,
to urge the President a little, and also Messer Girolamo Cusano, to
whom you will commend me and offer my duty to his Magnificence.
*1350. 28-36. Draft of a letter to Francesco Melzi, born l493--a
youth therefore of about 17 in 1510. Leonardo addresses his young
friend as "Messer", as being the son of a noble house. Melzi
practised art under Leonardo as a dilettante and not as a pupil,
like Cesare da Sesto and others (See LERMOLIEFF, _Die Galerien_ &c.,
*Drafts of a letter to Giuliano de' Medici (1351-1352).
[Most illustrious Lord. I greatly rejoice most Illustrious Lord at
I was so greatly rejoiced, most illustrious Lord, by the desired
restoration of your health, that it almost had the effect that [my
own health recovered]--[I have got through my illness]--my own
illness left me-- --of your Excellency's almost restored health. But
I am extremely vexed that I have not been able completely to satisfy
the wishes of your Excellency, by reason of the wickedness of that
deceiver, for whom I left nothing undone which could be done for him
by me and by which I might be of use to him; and in the first place
his allowances were paid to him before the time, which I believe he
would willingly deny, if I had not the writing signed by myself and
the interpreter. And I, seeing that he did not work for me unless he
had no work to do for others, which he was very careful in
solliciting, invited him to dine with me, and to work afterwards
near me, because, besides the saving of expense, he
*1351. 1353.[Footnote: It is clear from the contents of this notes
that they refer to Leonardo's residence in Rome in 1513-1515. Nor
can there be any doubt that they were addressed to Leonardo's patron
at the time: Giuliano de' Medici, third son of Lorenzo the
Magnificent and brother of Pope Leo X (born 1478). In 1512 he became
the head of the Florentine Republic. The Pope invited him to Rome,
where he settled; in 1513 he was named patrician with much splendid
ceremonial. The medal struck in honour of the event bears the words
MAG. IVLIAN. MEDICES. Leonardo too uses the style "Magnifico", in
his letter. Compare also No. 1377.
GlNO CAPPONI (_Storia della Repubblica di Firenze_, Vol. III, p.
139) thus describes the character of Giuliano de' Medici, who died
in 1516: _Era il migliore della famiglia, di vita placida, grande
spenditore, tenendo intorno a s*e uomini ingegnosi, ed ogni nuova
cosa voleva provare._
See too GREGOROVIUS, _Geschichte der Stadi Rom_, VIII (book XIV.
III, 2): _Die Luftschl*osser f*urstlicher Gr*osse, wozu ihn der
Papst hatte erheben wollen zerfielen. Julian war der edelste aller
damaligen Medici, ein Mensch von innerlicher Richtung, unbefriedigt
durch das Leben, mitten im Sonnenglanz der Herrlichkeit Leo's X.
eine dunkle Gestalt die wie ein Schatten vor*uberzog._ Giuliano
lived in the Vatican, and it may be safely inferred from No. 1352 l.
2, and No. 1353 l. 4, that Leonardo did the same.
>From the following unpublished notice in the Vatican archives, which
M. Eug. M*untz, librarian of the Ecole des Beaux arts, Paris, has
done me the favour to communicate to me, we get a more accurate view
of Leonardo's relation to the often named GIORGIO TEDESCO:
_Nota delle provisione_ (sic) _a da pagare per me in nome del nostro
ill. S. Bernardo Bini e chomp*a di Roma, e prima della ill*ma sua
chonsorte ogni mese d. 800.
A L*do da Vinci per sua provisione d. XXXIII, e pi*u d. VII al detto
per la provisione di Giorgio tedescho, che sono in tutto d. 40.
>From this we learn, that seven ducats formed the German's monthly
wages, but according to No. 1353 l. 7 he pretended that eight ducats
had been agreed upon.]
would acquire the Italian language. He always promised, but would
never do so. And this I did also, because that Giovanni, the German
who makes the mirrors, was there always in the workshop, and wanted
to see and to know all that was being done there and made it known
outside ... strongly criticising it; and because he dined with those
of the Pope's guard, and then they went out with guns killing birds
among the ruins; and this went on from after dinner till the
evening; and when I sent Lorenzo to urge him to work he said that he
would not have so many masters over him, and that his work was for
your Excellency's Wardrobe; and thus two months passed and so it
went on; and one day finding Gian Niccolo of the Wardrobe and asking
whether the German had finished the work for your Magnificence, he
told me this was not true, but only that he had given him two guns
to clean. Afterwards, when I had urged him farther, be left the
workshop and began to work in his room, and lost much time in making
another pair of pincers and files and other tools with screws; and
there he worked at mills for twisting silk which he hid when any one
of my people went in, and with a thousand oaths and mutterings, so
that none of them would go there any more.
I was so greatly rejoiced, most Illustrious Lord, by the desired
restoration of your health, that my own illness almost left me. But
I am greatly vexed at not having been able to completely satisfy
your Excellency's wishes by reason of the wickedness of that German
deceiver, for whom I left nothing undone by which I could have hope
to please him; and secondly I invited him to lodge and board with
me, by which means I should constantly see the work he was doing and
with greater ease correct his errors while, besides this, he would
learn the Italian tongue, by means of which be could with more ease
talk without an interpreter; his moneys were always given him in
advance of the time when due. Afterwards he wanted to have the
models finished in wood, just as they were to be in iron, and wished
to carry them away to his own country. But this I refused him,
telling him that I would give him, in drawing, the breadth, length,
height and form of what he had to do; and so we remained in
The next thing was that he made himself another workshop and pincers
and tools in his room where he slept, and there he worked for
others; afterwards he went to dine with the Swiss of the guard,
where there are idle fellows, in which he beat them all; and most
times they went two or three together with guns, to shoot birds
among the ruins, and this went on till evening.
At last I found how this master Giovanni the mirror-maker was he who
had done it all, for two reasons; the first because he had said that
my coming here had deprived him of the countenance and favour of
your Lordship which always... The other is that he said that his
iron-workers' rooms suited him for working at his mirrors, and of
this he gave proof; for besides making him my enemy, he made him
sell all he had and leave his workshop to him, where he works with a
number of workmen making numerous mirrors to send to the fairs.
I was so greatly rejoiced, most Illustrious Lord, by the wished for
recovery of your health, that my own ills have almost left me; and I
say God be praised for it. But it vexes me greatly that I have not
been able completely to satisfy your Excellency's wishes by reason
of the wickedness of that German deceiver, for whom I left nothing
undone by which I could hope to please him; and secondly I invited
him to lodge and board with me, by which means I should see
constantly the work he was doing, for which purpose I would have a
table fixed at the foot of one of these windows, where he could work
with the file and finish the things made below; and so I should
constantly see the work he might do, and it could be corrected with
Draft of letter written at Rome.
This other hindered me in anatomy, blaming it before the Pope; and
likewise at the hospital; and he has filled [*4] this whole
Belvedere with workshops for mirrors; and he did the same thing in
Maestro Giorgio's room. He said that he had been promised [*7] eight
ducats every month, beginning with the first day, when he set out,
or at latest when he spoke with you; and that you agreed.
Seeing that he seldom stayed in the workshop, and that he ate a
great deal, I sent him word that, if he liked I could deal with him
separately for each thing that he might make, and would give him
what we might agree to be a fair valuation. He took counsel with his
neighbour and gave up his room, selling every thing, and went to
Miscellaneous Records (1354. 1355)-
Dear Benedetto de' Pertarti. When the proud giant fell because of
the bloody and miry state of the ground it was as though a mountain
had fallen so that the country shook as with an earthquake, and
terror fell on Pluto in hell. From the violence of the shock he lay
as stunned on the level ground. Suddenly the people, seeing him as
one killed by a thunderbolt, turned back; like ants running wildly
over the body of the fallen oak, so these rushing over his ample
limbs.......... them with
*1354.[Footnote: A puzzling passage, meant, as it would seem, for a
jest. Compare the description of Giants in Dante, _Inf_. XXI and
XXII. Perhaps Leonardo had the Giant Antaeus in his mind. Of him the
myth relates that he was a son of Ge, that he fed on lions; that he
hunted in Libya and killed the inhabitants. He enjoyed the
peculiarity of renewing his strength whenever he fell and came in
contact with his mother earth; but that Hercules lifted him up and
so conquered and strangled him. Lucan gives a full account of the
struggle. Pharsalia IV, 617. The reading of this passage, which is
very indistinctly written, is in many places doubtful.]
frequent wounds; by which, the giant being roused and feeling
himself almost covered by the multitude, he suddenly perceives the
smarting of the stabs, and sent forth a roar which sounded like a
terrific clap of thunder; and placing his hands on the ground he
raised his terrible face: and having lifted one hand to his head he
found it full of men and rabble sticking to it like the minute
creatures which not unfrequently are found there; wherefore with a
shake of his head he sends the men flying through the air just as
hail does when driven by the fury of the winds. Many of these men
were found to be dead; stamping with his feet.
And clinging to his hair, and striving to hide in it, they behaved
like sailors in a storm, who run up the ropes to lessen the force of
the wind [by taking in sail].
News of things from the East.
Be it known to you that in the month of June there appeared a Giant,
who came from the Lybian desert... mad with rage like ants....
struck down by the rude.
This great Giant was born in Mount Atlas and was a hero ... and had
to fight against the Egyptians and Arabs, Medes and Persians. He
lived in the sea on whales, grampuses and ships.
Mars fearing for his life took refuge under the... of Jove.
And at the great fall it seemed as though the whole province quaked.
This spirit returns to the brain whence it had departed, with a loud
voice and with these words, it moved...
And if any man though he may have wisdom or goodness .........
[Footnote: This passage, very difficult to decipher, is on the
reverse of a drawing at Windsor, Pl. CXXII, which possibly has some
connection with it. The drawing is slightly reduced in this
reproduction; the original being 25 cm. high by 19 cm. wide.]
O blessed and happy spirit whence comest thou? Well have I known
this man, much against my will. This one is a receptacle of
villainy; he is a perfect heap of the utmost ingratitude combined
with every vice. But of what use is it to fatigue myself with vain
words? Nothing is to be found in them but every form of sin ... And
if there should be found among them any that possesses any good,
they will not be treated differently to myself by other men; and in
fine, I come to the conclusion that it is bad if they are hostile,
and worse if they are friendly.
Miscellaneous drafts of letters and personal records (1356--1368).
All the ills that are or ever were, if they could be set to work by
him, would not satisfy the desires of his iniquitous soul; and I
could not in any length of time describe his nature to you, but I
I know one who, having promised me much, less than my due, being
disappointed of his presumptuous desires, has tried to deprive me of
all my friends; and as he has found them wise and not pliable to his
will, he has menaced me that, having found means of denouncing me,
he would deprive me of my benefactors. Hence I have informed your
Lordship of this, to the end [that this man who wishes to sow the
usual scandals, may find no soil fit for sowing the thoughts and
deeds of his evil nature] so that he, trying to make your Lordship,
the instrument of his iniquitous and maliceous nature may be
disappointed of his desire.
And in this case I know that I shall make few enemies seeing that no
one will believe what I can say of him; for they are but
[Footnote: Below this text we read gusstino--Giustino and in another
passage on the same page Justin is quoted (No. 1210, 1. 48). The two
have however no real connection.]
few whom his vices have disgusted, and he only dislikes those men
whose natures are contrary to those vices. And many hate their
fathers, and break off friendship with those who reprove their
vices; and he will not permit any examples against them, nor any
If you meet with any one who is virtuous do not drive him from you;
do him honour, so that he may not have to flee from you and be
reduced to hiding in hermitages, or caves or other solitary places
to escape from your treachery; if there is such an one among you do
him honour, for these are our Saints upon earth; these are they who
deserve statues from us, and images; but remember that their images
are not to be eaten by you, as is still done in some parts of India
[Footnote 15: In explanation of this passage I have received the
following communication from Dr. G. W. LEITNER of Lahore: "So far as
Indian customs are known to us, this practice spoken of by Leonardo
as 'still existing in some parts of India' is perfectly unknown; and
it is equally opposed to the spirit of Hinduism, Mohammedanism and
Sikhism. In central Thibet the ashes of the dead, when burnt, are
mixed with dough, and small figures--usually of Buddha--are stamped
out of them and some are laid in the grave while others are
distributed among the relations. The custom spoken of by Leonardo
may have prevailed there but I never heard of it." Possibly Leonardo
refers here to customs of nations of America.] where, when the
images have according to them, performed some miracle, the priests
cut them in pieces, being of wood, and give them to all the people
of the country, not without payment; and each one grates his portion
very fine, and puts it upon the first food he eats; and thus
believes that by faith he has eaten his saint who then preserves him
from all perils. What do you think here, Man, of your own species?
Are you so wise as you believe yourselves to be? Are these things to
be done by men?
As I told you in past days, you know that I am without any....
Francesco d'Antonio. Bernardo di Maestro Jacopo.
Tell me how the things happened.
j lorezo\\\ 2 inbiadali\\\ 3 inferri de\\\ 4in lorezo\\\ 5[inno
abuil]\\ 6 in acocatu\\\ 7 per la sella\\\ 8colte di lor\\\ 9v
cavallott\\\ I0el uiagg\\\ IIal\\\ I2a lurez\\\ 13in biada\\\
14inferri\\\ 15abuss\\\ 16in viagg\\\ 17alorz\\\ [Footnote: This
seems to be the beginning of a letter, but only the first words of
the lines have been preserved, the leaf being torn down the middle.
No translation is possible.]
And so may it please our great Author that I may demonstrate the
nature of man and his customs, in the way I describe his figure.
[Footnote: A preparatory note for the passage given as No. 798, *11.
This writing distinctly about the kite seems to be my destiny,
because among the first recollections of my infancy, it seemed to me
that, as I was in my cradle, a kite came to me and opened my mouth
with its tail, and struck me several times with its tail inside my
lips. [Footnote: This note probably refers to the text No. 1221.]
C. A. 248a; 737a]
[When I did well, as a boy you used to put me in prison. Now if I do
it being grown up, you will do worse to me.]
Tell me if anything was ever done.
Tell me if ever I did a thing which me ....
Do not reveal, if liberty is precious to you; my face is the prison
of love. [Footnote:This note seems to be a quotation.]
Maestro Leonardo of Florence. [Footnote: So Leonardo writes his name
on a sheet with sundry short notes, evidently to try a pen. Compare
the signature with those in Nos. 1341, 1348 and 1374 (see also No.
1346, l. 33). The form "Lionardo" does not occur in the autographs.
The Portrait of the Master in the Royal Library at Turin, which is
reproduced--slightly diminished--on Pl. I, has in the original two
lines of writing underneath; one in red chalk of two or three words
is partly effaced: _lionardo it... lm_ (or _lai_?); the second
written in pencil is as follows: _fatto da lui stesso assai
vecchio_. In both of these the writing is very like the Master's,
but is certainly only an imitation.]
Notes bearing Dates (1369--1378).
The day of Santa Maria _della Neve_ [of the Snows] August the 2nd
1473. [Footnote: *W. An. I. 1368. 1369. This date is on a drawing of
a rocky landscape. See _Chronique des Arts_ 1881 no. 23: _Leonard de
Vinci a-t-il ete au Righi le 5 aout 1473_? letter by H. de
Geymuller. The next following date in the MSS. is 1478 (see No.
On the 2nd of April 1489, book entitled 'Of the human figure'.
[Footnote: While the letters in the MS. notes of 1473 and 1478 are
very ornate, this note and the texts on anatomy on the same sheet
(for instance No. 805) are in the same simple hand as we see on Pl.
CXVI and CXIX. No 1370 is the only dated note of the years between
1480 and 1489, and the characters are in all essential points
identical with those that we see in the latest manuscripts written
in France (compare the facsimiles on Pl. CXV and p. 254), so that it
is hardly possible to determine exactly the date of a manuscript
from the style of the handwriting, if it does not betray the
peculiarities of style as displayed in the few notes dated previous
to l480.--Compare the facsimile of the manuscripts 1479 on Pl.LXII,
No. 2; No. 664, note, Vol. I p. 346. This shows already a marked
simplicity as compared with the calligraphy of I478.
The text No. 720 belongs to the year 1490; No. 1510 to the year
1492; No. 1459, No. 1384 and No. 1460 to the year 1493; No. 1463,
No. 1517, No. 1024, 1025 and 1461 to the year 1494; Nos. 1523 and
1524 to the year 1497.
C. A. 103a; 325a]
On the ist of August 1499, I wrote here of motion and of weight.
[Footnote:1371. _Scrissi qui_. Leonardo does not say where; still we
may assume that it was not in Milan. Amoretti writes, _Memorie
Storiche_, chap. XIX: _Sembra pertanto che non nel 1499 ma nel 1500,
dopo il ritorno e la prigionia del duca, sia da qui partito Lionardo
per andare a Firenze; ed e quindi probabile, che i mesi di governo
nuovo e incerto abbia passati coll' amico suo Francesco Melzi a
Vaprio, ove meglio che altrove studiar potea la natura, e
soprattutta le acque, e l'Adda specialmente, che gia era stato
l'ogetto delle sue idrostatiche ricerche_. At that time Melzi was
only six years of age. The next date is 1502; to this year belong
No. 1034, 1040, 1042, 1048 and 1053. The note No. 1525 belongs to
the year 1503.]
On the 9th of July 1504, Wednesday, at seven o'clock, died Ser Piero
da Vinci, notary at the Palazzo del Podest*a, my father, --at seven
o'clock, being eighty years old, leaving behind ten sons and two
[Footnote: This statement of Ser Piero's age contradicts that of the
_Riassunto della portata di Antonio da Vinci_ (Leonardo's
grandfather), who speaks of Ser Piero as being thirty years old in
1457; and that of the _Riassunto della portata di Ser Piero e
Francesco_, sons of Antonia da Vinci, where Ser Piero is mentioned
as being forty in 1469. These documents were published by G.
UZIELLI, _Ricerche intorno a L. da Vinci, Firenze_, 1872, pp. 144
and 146. Leonardo was, as is well known, a natural son. His mother
'La Catarina' was married in 1457 to Acchattabriga di Piero del
Vaccha da Vinci. She died in 1519. Leonardo never mentions her in
the Manuscripts. In the year of Leonardo's birth Ser Piero married
Albiera di Giovanni Amadoci, and after her death at the age of
thirty eight he again married, Francesca, daughter of Ser Giovanni
Lanfredi, then only fifteen. Their children were Leonardo's
halfbrothers, Antonio (b. 1476), Ser Giuliano (b. 1479), Lorenzo (b.
1484), a girl, Violante (b. 1485), and another boy Domenico (b.
1486); Domenico's descendants still exist as a family. Ser Piero
married for the third time Lucrezia di Guglielmo Cortigiani by whom
he had six children: Margherita (b. 1491), Benedetto (b. 1492),
Pandolfo (b. 1494), Guglielmo (b. 1496), Bartolommeo (b. 1497), and
Giovanni) date of birth unknown). Pierino da Vinci the sculptor
(about 1520-1554) was the son of Bartolommeo, the fifth of these
children. The dates of their deaths are not known, but we may infer
from the above passage that they were all still living in 1505.]
On Wednesday at seven o'clock died Ser Piero da Vinci on the 9th of
[Footnote: This and the previous text it may be remarked are the
only mention made by Leonardo of his father; Nos. 1526, 1527 and No.
1463 are of the year 1504.]
Begun by me, Leonardo da Vinci, on the l2th of July 1505.
[Footnote: Thus he writes on the first page of the MS. The title is
on the foregoing coversheet as follows: _Libro titolato
disstrafformatione coe_ (cio*e) _d'un corpo nvn_ (in un) _altro
sanza diminuitione e acresscemento di materia._]
Begun at Milan on the l2th of September 1508.
[Footnote: No. 1528 and No. 1529 belong to the same year. The text
Vol. I, No. 4 belongs to the following year 1509 (1508 old style);
so also does No. 1009.-- Nos. 1022, 1057 and 1464 belong to 1511.]
On the 9th of January 1513.
[Footnote: No. 1465 belongs to the same year. No. 1065 has the next
The Magnifico Giuliano de' Medici left Rome on the 9th of January
1515, just at daybreak, to take a wife in Savoy; and on the same day
fell the death of the king of France.
[Footnote: Giuliano de Medici, brother to Pope Leo X.; see note to
Nos. 1351-1353. In February, 1515, he was married to Filiberta,
daughter of Filippo, Duke of Savoy, and aunt to Francis I, Louis
XII's successor on the throne of France. Louis XII died on Jan. 1st,
and not on Jan. 9th as is here stated.-- This addition is written in
paler ink and evidently at a later date.]
On the 24th of June, St John's day, 1518 at Amboise, in the palace
[Footnote: _Castello del clli_. The meaning of this word is obscure;
it is perhaps not written at full length.]
_The incidental memoranda scattered here and there throughout the
MSS. can have been for the most part intelligible to the writer
only; in many cases their meaning and connection are all the more
obscure because we are in ignorance about the persons with whom
Leonardo used to converse nor can we say what part he may have
played in the various events of his time. Vasari and other early
biographers give us a very superficial and far from accurate picture
of Leonardo's private life. Though his own memoranda, referring for
the most part to incidents of no permanent interest, do not go far
towards supplying this deficiency, they are nevertheless of some
importance and interest as helping us to solve the numerous
mysteries in which the history of Leonardo's long life remains
involved. We may at any rate assume, from Leonardo's having
committed to paper notes on more or less trivial matters on his
pupils, on his house-keeping, on various known and unknown
personages, and a hundred other trifies--that at the time they must
have been in some way important to him._
_I have endeavoured to make these 'Miscellaneous Notes' as complete
as possible, for in many cases an incidental memorandum will help to
explain the meaning of some other note of a similar kind. The first
portion of these notes (Nos. l379--l457), as well as those referring
to his pupils and to other artists and artificers who lived in his
house (1458--1468,) are arranged in chronological order. A
considerable proportion of these notes belong to the period between
1490 and 1500, when Leonardo was living at Milan under the patronage
of Lodovico il Moro, a time concerning which we have otherwise only
very scanty information. If Leonardo did really--as has always been
supposed,--spend also the greater part of the preceding decade in
Milan, it seems hardly likely that we should not find a single note
indicative of the fact, or referring to any event of that period, on
the numerous loose leaves in his writing that exist. Leonardo's life
in Milan between 1489 and 1500 must have been comparatively
uneventful. The MSS. and memoranda of those years seem to prove that
it was a tranquil period of intellectual and artistic labour rather
than of bustling court life. Whatever may have been the fate of the
MSS. and note books of the foregoing years--whether they were
destroyed by Leonardo himself or have been lost--it is certainly
strange that nothing whatever exists to inform us as to his life and
doings in Milan earlier than the consecutive series of manuscripts
which begin in the year 1489._
_There is nothing surprising in the fact that the notes regarding
his pupils are few and meagre. Excepting for the record of money
transactions only very exceptional circumstances would have prompted
him to make any written observations on the persons with whom he was
in daily intercourse, among whom, of course, were his pupils. Of
them all none is so frequently mentioned as Salai, but the character
of the notes does not--as it seems to me--justify us in supposing
that he was any thing more than a sort of factotum of Leonardo's
(see 1519, note)._
_Leonardo's quotations from books and his lists of titles supply
nothing more than a hint as to his occasional literary studies or
recreations. It was evidently no part of his ambition to be deeply
read (see Nrs. 10, 11, 1159) and he more than once expressly states
(in various passages which will be found in the foregoing sections)
that he did not recognise the authority of the Ancients, on
scientific questions, which in his day was held paramount.
Archimedes is the sole exception, and Leonardo frankly owns his
admiration for the illustrious Greek to whose genius his own was so
much akin (see No. 1476). All his notes on various authors,
excepting those which have already been inserted in the previous
section, have been arranged alphabetically for the sake of
_The passages next in order contain accounts and inventories
principally of household property. The publication of these--often
very trivial entries--is only justifiable as proving that the
wealth, the splendid mode of life and lavish expenditure which have
been attributed to Leonardo are altogether mythical; unless we put
forward the very improbable hypothesis that these notes as to money
in hand, outlay and receipts, refer throughout to an exceptional
state of his affairs, viz. when he was short of money._
_The memoranda collected at the end (No. 1505--1565) are, in the
original, in the usual writing, from left to right. Besides, the
style of the handwriting is at variance with what we should expect
it to be, if really Leonardo himself had written these notes. Most
of them are to be found in juxtaposition with undoubtedly authentic
writing of his. But this may be easily explained, if we take into
account the fact, that Leonardo frequently wrote on loose sheets. He
may therefore have occasionally used paper on which others had made
short memoranda, for the most part as it would seem, for his use. At
the end of all I have given Leonardo's will from the copy of it
preserved in the Melzi Library. It has already been printed by
Amoretti and by Uzielli. It is not known what has become of the
Memoranda before 1500 (1379-l413).
Find Longhi and tell him that you wait for him at Rome and will go
with him to Naples; make you pay the donation [Footnote 2: _Libro di
Vitolone_ see No. 1506 note.] and take the book by Vitolone, and the
measurements of the public buildings.  Have two covered boxes
made to be carried on mules, but bed-covers will be best; this makes
three, of which you will leave one at Vinci.  Obtain
the.............. from Giovanni Lombardo the linen draper of Verona.
Buy handkerchiefs and towels,.... and shoes, 4 pairs of hose, a
jerkin of... and skins, to make new ones; the lake of Alessandro.
[Footnote: 7 and fol. It would seem from the text that Leonardo
intended to have instructions in painting on paper. It is hardly
necessary to point out that the Art of illuminating was quite
separate from that of painting.]
Sell what you cannot take with you. Get from Jean de Paris the
method of painting in tempera and the way of making white [Footnote:
The mysterious looking words, quite distinctly written, in line 1:
_ingol, amor a, ilopan a_ and on line 2: _enoiganod al_ are
obviously in cipher and the solution is a simple one; by reading
them backwards we find for _ingol_: logni-probably _longi_,
evidently the name of a person; for _amor a_: _a Roma_, for _ilopan
a_: _a Napoli_. Leonardo has done the same in two passages treating
on some secrets of his art Nos. 641 and 729, the only other places
in which we find this cipher employed; we may therefore conclude
that it was for the sake of secrecy that he used it.
There can be no doubt, from the tenor of this passage, that Leonardo
projected a secret excursion to Naples. Nothing has hitherto been
known of this journey, but the significance of the passage will be
easily understood by a reference to the following notes, from which
we may infer that Leonardo really had at the time plans for
travelling further than Naples. From lines 3, 4 and 7 it is evident
that he purposed, after selling every thing that was not easily
portable, to leave a chest in the care of his relations at Vinci.
His luggage was to be packed into two trunks especially adapted for
transport by mules. The exact meaning of many sentences in the
following notes must necessarily remain obscure. These brief remarks
on small and irrelevant affairs and so forth are however of no
historical value. The notes referring to the preparations for his
journey are more intelligible.]
salt, and how to make tinted paper; sheets
of paper folded up; and his box of colours;
learn to work flesh colours in tempera,
learn to dissolve gum lac, linseed
... white, of the garlic of Piacenza; take 'de Ponderibus'; take the works of
Leonardo of Cremona. Remove the small
furnace ... seed of lilies and of... Sell the
boards of the support. Make him who stole it,
give you the ... learn levelling and how
much soil a man can dig out in a day.
This was done by Leone in the
piazza of the castle with a chain
and an arrow.
[Footnote: This note must have been made in Milan;
as we know from the date of the MS.]
NAMES OF ENGINEERS.
Callias of Rhodes, Epimachus the Athenian,
Diogenes, a philosopher, of Rhodes,
Calcedonius of Thrace, Febar of Tyre,
Callimachus the architect, a master of fires.
[Footnote: Callias, Architect of Aradus, mentioned
by Vitruvius (X, 16, 5).--Epimachus, of Athens,
invented a battering-enginee for Demetrius Poliorketes
(Vitruvius X, 16, 4).--Callimachus, the inventor of
the Corinthian capital (Vitr. IV, I, 9), and of the
method of boring marble (Paus. I, 26, 7), was also
famous for his casts in bronze (Plin. XXXIV,
8, 19). He invented a lamp for the temple of
Athene Polias, on the Acropolis of Athens (Paus.
I, 26, 7)--The other names, here mentioned, cannot
Ash. II. 13b]
Ask maestro Lodovico for 'the conduits
[Footnote: Condotti d'acqua. Possibly a book, a MS. or
... at Pistoja, Fioravante di Domenico at
Florence is my most beloved friend, as though
he were my [brother].
[Footnote: On the same sheet is the text No. 663.]
*** from previous page?***
II. 'De Ponderibus'. A large number of Leonardo's
notes bear this superscription. Compare No. 1436, 3.
S.K.M. III. 1b]
On the 16th day of July.
Caterina came on 16th day of July, 1493.
Messer Mariolo's Morel the Florentin, has a
big horse with a fine neck and a beautiful head.
The white stallion belonging to the falconer
has fine hind quarters; it is behind the
The big horse of Cermonino, of Signor
[Footnote: Compare Nos. 1522 and 1517. Caterina
seems to have been his housekeeper.]
S.K.M. III. 30a]
OF THE INSTRUMENT.
Any one who spends one ducat may take
the instrument; and he will not pay more than
half a ducat as a premium to the inventor of
the instrument and one grosso to the workman
every year. I do not want sub-officials.
[Footnote: Refers perhaps to the regulation of the
water in the canals.]
S.K.M. III. 55a]
Maestro Giuliano da Marliano has a fine
herbal. He lives opposite to Strami the
[Footnote: Compare No. 616, note. 4. legnamiere
(milanese dialect) = legnajuolo.]
S.K.M. III. 94a]
Christofano da Castiglione who lives at
the Pieta has a fine head.
C.A. 328a 980a]
Work of ... of the stable of Galeazzo;
by the road of Brera [Footnote 4: Brera, see No. 1448, II, 13]; benefice of Stanghe [Footnote 5:Stanghe,
see No. 1509.]; benefice of Porta Nuova; benefice
of Monza; Indaco's mistake; give first the
benefices; then the works; then ingratitude,
indignity and lamentations.
Chiliarch--captain of 1000.
A legion, six thousand and sixty three men.
A nun lives at La Colomba at Cremona;
she works good straw plait, and a friar of
Saint Francis.[Footnote: La Colomba is to this day the name of a small house at Cremona, decorated with frescoes.]
of the Duke.
Messer Gian Domenico Mezzabarba and
Messer Giovanni Franceso Mezzabarba. By
the side of Messer Piero d'Anghiera.
S.K.M. II.2 7b]
Conte Francesco Torello.
S.K.M. II.2 12a]
Giuliano Trombetta,--Antonio di Ferrara,
--Oil of ....
[Footnote: Near this text is the sketch of a head drawn in red chalk.]
S.K.M. II.2 20a]
Paul was snatched up to heaven.
[Footnote: See the facsimile of this note on
Pl.XXIII No. 2.]
S.K.M. II.2 22a]
Giuliano da Maria, physician, has a steward
S.K.M. II.2 27a]
Have some ears of corn of large size sent
See the bedstead at Santa Maria.
Arrigo is to have 11 gold Ducats.
Arrigo is to have 4 gold ducats in the
middle of August.
Give your master the instance of a
captain who does not himself win the
victory, but the soldiers do by his counsels;
and so he still deserves the reward.
Messer Pier Antonio.
My dear Alessandro from Parma, by the
hand of ...
Giovannina, has a fantastic face,--is at
Santa Caterina, at the Hospital.[Footnote: Compare the text on the same page: No. 667.]
24 tavole make 1 perch.
4 trabochi make 1 tavola.
4 braccia and a half make a trabocco.
A perch contains 1936 square braccia,
The road of Messer Mariolo is 13 1/4 braccia
wide; the House of Evangelista is 75.
It enters 7'/2 braccia in the house of Mariolo.
[Footnote: On this page and that which faces it,
MS.I2 7la, are two diagrams with numerous reference
numbers, evidently relating to the measurements of
I ask at what part of its curved motion
the moving cause will leave the thing
moved and moveable.
Speak to Pietro Monti of these methods
of throwing spears.
Antonio de' Risi is at the council of
Paolo said that no machine that moves
another ...[Footnote: The passage, of which, the beginning
is here given, deals with questions in mechanics.
The instances in which Leonardo quotes the
opinions of his contemporaries on scientific matters
are so rare as to be worth noticing. Compare
No. 901. ]
Caravaggio.[Footnote:Caravaggio, a village not far from the Adda between Milan and Brescia, where Polidoro and
Michelangelo da Caravaggio were born. This note is given
in facsimile on Pl. XIII, No. I (above, to the left).
On Pl. XIII, No. 2 above to the right we read
Maghino, Speculus of Master Giovanni
the Frenchman; Galenus on utility.
Near to Cordusio is Pier Antonio da
Tossano and his brother Serafino.
[Footnote: This note is written between lines 23 and
24 of the text No. 710. Corduso, Cordusio (curia
ducis) = Cordus in the Milanese dialect, is the name
of a Piazza between the Via del Broletto and the
Piazza de' Mercanti at Milan.. In the time of il
Moro it was the centre of the town. The persons
here named were members of the noble Milanese
family de'Fossani; Ambrogio da Possano, the con-
temporary painter, had no connection with them.]
Paul of Vannochio at Siena ...
The upper chamber for the apostles.
 Buildings by Bramante.
The governor of the castle made a
[Footnote 6: Visconti. Chi fosse quel Visconte non sapremmo indovinare fra tanti di questo nome. Arluno narra che allora atterrate furono le case de' Viconti, de' Castiglioni, de' Sanseverini, e de' Botta e non e improbabile che ne fossero insultati e morti i padroni. Molti Visconti annovera lo
stesso Cronista che per essersi rallegrati del ritorno del duca in Milano furono da Francesi arrestati, e strascinati in--Francia come prigionieri di stato; e fra questi Messer Francesco Visconti, e suo figliuolo Battista. (AMORETTI, Mem. Stor. XIX.). Visconti carried away and his son killed.
Giovanni della Rosa deprived of his money.
[Footnote 8: Borgonzio o Brugonzio Botta fu regolatore delle ducali entrate sotto il Moro, alla cui fuga la casa sua fu pur messa a sacco da' partitanti francesi. (AMORETTI, 1. c.)] Borgonzio began ...; and moreover
his fortunes fled.
The Duke has lost the state, property
and liberty and none of his entreprises was
carried out by him.
[Footnote 1: 4--10 This passage evidently refers to
events in Milan at the time of the overthrow of
Ludovico il Moro. Amoretti published it in the
'Memorie Storiche' and added copious notes.]
Ambrosio Petri, St. Mark, 4 boards for
the window, 2 ..., 3 the saints of
chapels, 5 the Genoese at home.
Piece of tapestry,-pair of compasses,--
Tommaso's book,--the book of Giovanni
Benci,--the box in the custom-house,--to cut
the cloth,--the sword-belt,--to sole the boots,
--a light hat,--the cane from the ruined
houses,--the debt for the table linen,
--swimming-belt,--a book of white paper for
drawing,--charcoal.--How much is a florin ....
a leather bodice.
Borges [Footnote: Borges. A Spanish name.] shall get for you the Archimedes from the bishop of Padua, and Vitellozzo the one from Borgo a San Sepolcro [Footnote: Borgo a San Sepolcro, where Luca Paciolo, Leonardo's friend, was born.]
Marcello lives in the house of Giacomo
Br. M. 202b]
Where is Valentino? [Footnote: Valentino. Cesare Borgia is probably meant. After being made Archbishop of Valence by Alexander VI he was commonly called Valentinus
or Valentino. With reference to Leonardo's engagements by him see pp. 224 and 243, note.]--boots,--boxes in
the custom-house ...,-- [Footnote: Carmine. A church and monastery at Florence.] the monk at the
Carmine,--squares,--[Footnotes 7 an 8: Martelli, Borgherini; names of Florentine families. See No. 4.] Piero Martelli,-- Salvi Borgherini,--send back the bags,--a support for the spectacles,--[Footnote 11: San Gallo; possibly Giuliano da San Gallo, the Florentine architect.] the nude study of San Gallo,--the cloak.
Porphyry,--groups,--square,--[Footnote 16: Pandolfini, see No. 1544 note.] Pandolfino.
Concave mirrors; philosophy of Aristotle;[Footnote:Filosofia d'Aristotele see No. 1481 note.][Footnote 2: Avicenna (Leonardo here writes it Avinega) the Arab philosopher, 980-1037, for centuries the unimpeachable authority on all medical questions.
Leonardo possibly points here to a printed edition:
Avicennae canonum libri V, latine 1476 Patavis.
Other editions are, Padua 1479, and Venice 1490.] the books of Avicenna Italian and Latin vocabulary; Messer Ottaviano Palavicino or his Vitruvius [Footnote 3: Vitruvius. See Vol. I, No. 343 note.].
bohemian knives; Vitruvius[Footnote 6: Vitruvius. See Vol. I, No. 343 note.]; go every Saturday to the
hot bath where you will see naked men;
Meteora' [Footnote 7: See No. 1448, 25.],
Archimedes, on the centre of gravity [Footnote 9: The works of Archimedes were not printed during Leonardo's life-time.]; anatomy [Footnote 10: Compare No. 1494.] Alessandro Benedetto; The Dante of Niccolo della Croce; Inflate the lungs of a pig and observe whether they increase in width and in length, or in width
diminishing in length.
[Footnote 14: Johannes Marliani sua etate philosophorum et medicorum principis et ducala phisic. primi de proportione motuum velocitate questio subtilissima incipit ex ejusdem Marliani originali feliciter extracta, M(ilano) 1482.
Another work by him has the title: Marlianus
mediolanensis. Questio de caliditate corporum humanorum
tempore hiemis ed estatis et de antiparistasi ad celebrem
philosophorum et medicorum universitatem ticinensem. 1474.] Marliano, on Calculation, to Bertuccio. Albertus, on heaven and earth [Footnote 15: See No. 1469, 1. 7.], [from the monk Bernardino]. Horace has written on the movements of the heavens.
Of the three regular bodies as opposed to
some commentators who disparage the Ancients,
who were the originators of grammar
and the sciences and ...
W. An. III 217a (G)]
The room in the tower of Vaneri.
[Footnote: This note is written inside the sketch of a
plan of a house. On the same page is the date
1513 (see No. 1376).]
The figures you will have to reserve for
the last book on shadows that they may appear
in the study of Gerardo the illuminator at San
Marco at Florence.
[Go to see Melzo, and the Ambassador,
and Maestro Bernardo].
[Footnote: L. 1-3 are in the original written between
lines 3 and 4 of No. 292. But the sense is not clear
in this connection. It is scarcely possible to devine
the meaning of the following sentence.
*2. 3. _Gherardo_ Miniatore, a famous illuminator,
1445-1497, to whom Vasari dedicated a section of
his Lives (Vol. II pp. 237-243, ed. Sansoni 1879).
*5. _Bernardo_, possibly the painter Bernardo Zenale.]
Hermes the philosopher.
Suisset, viz. calculator,--Tisber,
The structure of the drawbridge shown me
by Donnino, and why _c_ and _d_ thrust downwards.
[Footnote: The sketch on the same page as this text
represents two poles one across the other. At the
ends of the longest are the letter _c_ and _d_. The
sense of the passage is not rendered any clearer.]
The great bird will take its first flight;--
on the back of his great swan,--filling
the universe with wonders; filling all writings
with his fame and bringing eternal glory to
[Footnote: This seems to be a speculation about the
flying machine (compare p. 271).]
This stratagem was used by the Gauls
against the Romans, and so great a mortality
ensued that all Rome was dressed in mourning.
[Footnote: Leonardo perhaps alludes to the Gauls under
Brennus, who laid his sword in the scale when the
tribute was weighed.]
Alberto da Imola;--Algebra, that is,
the demonstration of the equality of one thing
Johannes Rubicissa e Robbia.
Ask the wife of Biagio Crivelli how the
capon nurtures and hatches the eggs of
the hen,--he being drunk.
The book on Water to Messer Marco
[Footnote: Possibly Marc-Antonio della Torre, see
Have Avicenna's work on useful inventions
translated; spectacles with the case, steel
and fork and...., charcoal, boards, and
paper, and chalk and white, and wax;....
.... for glass, a saw for bones with fine
teeth, a chisel, inkstand ........ three
herbs, and Agnolo Benedetto. Get a skull,
Boots,--gloves, socks, combs, papers,
towels, shirts,.... shoe-tapes,--.....
shoes, penknife, pens. A skin for the
[Footnote: 4. Lapis. Compare Condivi, _Vita di Michelagnolo
Buonarotti_, Chap. XVIII.: _Ma egli_ (Michelangelo)
_non avendo che mostrare, prese una penna (percioche
in quel tempo il lapis non era in uso) e con tal
leggiadria gli dipinse una mano ecc._ The incident is
of the year l496.--Lapis means pencil, and chalk
(_matita_). Between lines 7 and 8 are the texts given
as Nos. 819 and No. 7.]
The book of Piero Crescenze,--studies
from the nude by Giovanni Ambrosio,--compasses,
--the book of Giovanni Giacomo.
To make some provisions for my garden,
--Giordano, _De Ponderibus_[Footnote 3: _Giordano_.
Jordanus Nemorarius, a mathematician
of the beginning of the XIIIth century.
No particulars of his life are known. The title
of his principal work is: _Arithmetica decem libris demonstrata_,
first published at Paris 1496. In 1523 appeared
at Nuremberg: _Liber *Jordani Nemorarii de
ponderibus, propositiones XIII et earundem demonstrationes,
multarumque rerum rationes sane pulcherrimas
complectens, nunc in lucem editus._],--the peacemaker,
the flow and ebb of the sea,--have two
baggage trunks made, look to Beltraffio's [Footnote 6:
_Beltraffio_, see No. 465, note 2.
There are sketches by the side of lines 8
and 10.] lathe
and have taken the stone,--out leave the books
belonging to Messer Andrea the German,--
make scales of a long reed and weigh the
substance when hot and again when cold.
The mirror of Master Luigi; _A b_ the flow
and ebb of the water is shown at the mill
of Vaprio,--a cap.
Giovanni Fabre,--Lazaro del Volpe,--
the common,--Ser Piero.
[Footnote: These names are inserted on a plan of
plots of land adjoining the Arno.]
[Lactantius], [the book of Benozzo],
groups, to bind the book,--a lantern,--Ser
--small knives,--carriages,--curry combs--
Quadrant of Carlo Marmocchi,--Messer
Francesco Araldo,--Ser Benedetto d'Accie
perello,--Benedetto on arithmetic,--Maestro
Paulo, physician,--Domenico di Michelino,--
...... of the Alberti,--Messer Giovanni
Tinned iron,--pierced iron.
See the shop that was formerly Bartolommeo's,
[Footnote: 6. _Marc Antonio_, see No. 1433.]
The first book is by Michele di Francesco
Nabini; it treats on science.
Messer Francesco, physician of Lucca,
with the Cardinal Farnese.
[Footnote: _Alessandro Farnese_, afterwards Pope Paul III
was created in 1493 Cardinal di San Cosimo e San
Damiano, by Alexander VI.]
Pandolfino's book [Footnote 1: _Pandolfino, Agnolo_, of Florence. It is to
this day doubtful whether he or L. B. Alberti was
the author of the famous work '_Del Governo della
Famiglia_'. It is the more probable that Leonardo
should have meant this work by the words _il libro_,
because no other book is known to have been
written by Pandolfino. This being the case this allusion
of Leonardo's is an important evidence in
favour of Pandolfino's authorship (compare No. 1454,
line 3).],--knives,--a pen
for ruling,--to have the vest dyed,--The
library at St.-Mark's,--The library at Santo
Spirito,--Lactantius of the Daldi [Footnote 7: The works of Lactantius were published
very often in Italy during Leonardo's lifetime. The
first edition published in 1465 "_in monastero
sublacensi_" was also the first book printed in
Covoni,--A book by Maestro Paolo Infermieri,
--Boots, shoes and hose,--(Shell)lac,
--An apprentice to do the models for me.
Grammar, by Lorenzo de Medici,--Giovanni
del Sodo,--Sansovino, [Footnote 15: _Sansovino_, Andrea--the _sculptor_; 1460-1529.]--a ruler,--a very
Michelagnolo's little chain; Learn the multiplication
of roots from Maestro Luca;--my
map of the world which Giovanni Benci
has [Footnote 25: Leonardo here probably alludes to the map,
not executed by him (See p. 224), which is with the
collection of his MSS. at Windsor, and was published
in the _Archaeologia_ Vol. XI (see p. 224).];-Socks,--clothes from the customhouse
--officier,--Red Cordova leather,--The
map of the world, of Giovanni Benci,--a
print, the districts about Milan--Market book.
In that at Pavia the movement is more
to be admired than any thing else.
The imitation of antique work is better
than that of the modern things.
Beauty and utility cannot exist together,
as seen in fortresses and in men.
The trot is almost the nature of the free
Where natural vivacity is lacking it must
be supplied by art.
[Footnote: Quel di Pavia_. _Pavia_ is possibly a clerical
error for _Padua_, and if so the meaning of the passage
is easily arrived at: _Quel di Padua_ would be
the bronze equestrian statue of Gattamelata, on the
Piazza del Santo at Padua executed by Donatelle in
1443 (see pp. 2 and 3).]
Salvadore, the matress maker, lives on the
Piazza di Sant' Andrea, you enter by the furrier's.
Monsignore de' Pazzi,--Ser Antonio Pacini.
An algebra, which the Marliani have,
written by their father, [Footnote 1:
_Marliani_, an old Milanese family, now
On the bone, by the Marliani,--
On the bone which penetrates, Gian Giacomo
of Bellinzona, to draw out the nail with
The measurement of Boccalino,--
The measurement of Milan and the suburbs,
[Footnote 5: *21. See Pl. CIX and No. 1016.]--
A book, treating of Milan and its churches
which is to be had at the last stationer's
on the way to Corduso [Footnote 6: _Corduso_, see No. 1413, note.],--
The measurement of the Corte Vecchia,--
The measurement of the Castle,--
Get the master of arithmetic to show you
how to square a....,--
Get Messer Fazio to show you [the book]
Get the Friar di Brera to show you [the
book] '_de Ponderibus_' [*11],--