Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebooks (Forster Codices) late 15th / early 16th century, Medieval & Renaissance Galleries, Victoria and Albert Museum Permanent Collections, London. For further details visit, www.VisitMuseums.com By Larissa Woolf, VisitMuseums.com Arts Editorial Contributor
Amongst all the delights and riches that are on offer to view at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London make sure you take a detour to discover this small yet incredibly important group of notebooks in the permanent collection. Leonardo da Vinci, the grand master of paintings and inventions, used to note and sketch many of his ideas, observations and drawings. He started recording his thoughts in the late 1480’s and three of his small notebooks, – each the size of an outstretched hand – have survived the test of time and have come to the Victoria and Albert Museum as a bequest of the writer John Forster. Written in intricate handwriting in pen and ink on paper they are showcased together with an in depth commentary. You can digitally peruse each of the diaries to discover many of the different gems of thoughts and ideas that are in each. Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 in Italy and was an artist, scientist and engineer. Perhaps best known for his enigmatic painting ‘The Mona Lisa’ in the Louvre Museum, he was regarded in his day as a true Renaissance man, a genius then and a genius now whose paintings and inventions changed the world. His interests were vast and eclectic and interestingly he wrote in Italian, not Latin and wrote from right to left. In diary one for example we see how he makes notes on a way of making harmless explosions in a room – as court artist in Milan he would have been responsible for court entertainment and performances. Interspersed with this, is detailed anatomical drawings. In Diary 2, we see his interest in the properties of vision that led him to consider problems of painting and representation. There are sketches of clouds for paintings on one page followed by philosophical thoughts on the nature of government. A sketch of the Virgin and Child which now also resides in the Louvre Museum, Paris is prefigured as are drawings of hats, studies for doorways, building designs, helmets and even the Milan cathedral. His insights in the Arts and Sciences were legendary
Truly interesting – a genuine piece of living history – you can catch a glimpse of his visions and garner an insight into the thought processes of a genius.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebooks (Forster Codices) late 15th / early 16th century, Medieval & Renaissance Galleries, Victoria and Albert Museum Permanent Collections, London. For further details visit www.VisitMuseums.com, London, UK.
Leonardo da Vinci, Forster Codices, Volumes I, II and III, Late 15th - early 16th Century.
V & A Museum, London, UK