Da Vinci Notebooks Displayed Together In British Library First

To mark the 500th anniversary since the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the British Library is to mount an exhibition of the Renaissance master’s notebooks. ‘Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion’ at the British Library will reveal how he believed motion to be the cause of all life’.

This exhibition offers crucial evidence as to how Leonardo thought on paper and, as a scientist and artist

Da Vinci is known first and foremost as an artist, but the British Library’s exhibition will focus on his notebooks and the unique and compelling insight they offer into the workings of his mind and his scientific investigations.

The Codex was written backwards so that the left-handed master wouldn't smudge the ink

The Codex was written backwards so that the left-handed master wouldn’t smudge the ink

Leonardo’s notebooks reveal his close observations, detailed recording and systematic analysis of natural phenomena, with a particular emphasis on water in motion. Leonardo believed motion was an essential key to understanding the natural world and that water was the driving force of nature.

The exhibition will also look at how the scientific exploration of nature and motion found in his notebooks directly informed his work as an inventor and artist. It offers an immersion in the restless creativity of the notebooks, which will help visitors to see his famous paintings with fresh eyes.

It will be the first time a selection of notes and drawings from the Codex Arundel, owned by the British Library, the Codex Forster, owned by the V&A, and the Codex Leicester, owned by Bill Gates, will be displayed together in the UK, as well as the first time the Codex Leicester will be exhibited in Britain since it was purchased by Bill Gates in 1994.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion has been curated by Dr Juliana Barone and British Library curators Dr Andrea Clarke and Stephen Parkin. Dr Andrea Clarke, British Library curator of Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion, said: ‘This is a unique opportunity to see inside the extraordinary mind of Leonardo da Vinci, and we are delighted to be showcasing his manuscript legacy by bringing together highlights from three of his notebooks, which were all once owned by British collectors, for the first time in the UK.’

Dr Juliana Barone, Associate Curator of Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion, said: ‘This exhibition offers crucial evidence as to how Leonardo thought on paper and, as a scientist and artist, attempted to understand the natural world in terms of its principles to re-create nature. Through a selection of studies ranging from water flow to geometry, mechanics, astronomy and the human body in motion, the visitor is enabled to sense the depth and richness of Leonardo’s creative mind as well as exceptional ability as a draughtsman in conveying visual knowledge’.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion at the British Library is accompanied by a series of events inspired by the exhibition, including a range of adult learning courses, free family workshops and an audio-description tour for blind and partially sighted visitors, as well as a book edited by Dr Juliana Barone, which is available in hardback from the British Library shop and all good bookshops.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion  British Library 7 June – 8 September 2019

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