Florence ART News

Leonardo da Vinci

"The great bird will take flight ...filling the universewith wonder..."

by Silvia Messeri

"The Codex on the flight of the birds", the famous manuscript containing the notes, sketches and drawings that Leonardo prepared in 1506 in Florence, has at last come back to its city of origin to enrich the splendid exhibition on "The Renaissance engineers. From Brunelleschi to Leonardo da Vinci".

Flying machine by Leonardo

This small 18 page notebook, which was numbered by Leonardo himself, has remained miraculously intact, in spite of its somewhat eventful history, since the death of its author.

Apart from its main theme on flight, it also contains mechanical research, an anatomical drawing, botanical sketches, a rough portrait of an old man, which is very similar to his well known self-portrait, and notes on his expenses, including the purchase of a chicken for the price of two five-centesimi coins.

However most of the notes and drawings are studies on flight in its various aspects; thus we can find research into the winds and currents and the way they are exploited by birds, wonderful sketches on the physical structure of certain breeds of bird, and the various positions, according to the direction of the wind, that are assumed by their tails in flight.

A page from the "Codex on the flight of birds" by Leonardo
on loan from the Royal Library in Turin in the exhibition in Florence

This precious Codex is exhibited on loan from the Royal Library in Turin, which has also lent the beautiful drawing, again by Leonardo, of the battle chariots armed with scythes.

In 1977 Californian Bryan Allen crossed the English Channel in a"flying machine".
It was the first flight using the strength of man alone.

The latter is part of a series of studies on military devices that Leonardo carried out between 1482 and 1485, when he was in Milan at the service of Ludovico il Moro.

Drawn by galloping horses, two chariots, armed with enormous razor-edged scythes, litter the ground with mutilated bodies. The terrible beauty of the drawing reminds us of Leonardo's mortar drawings. These were not only provided with a mechanism to regulate their range, they were also supplied with cannon balls that, when they were fired, would burst open and scatter smaller shells. Bombs based on the same principle were used during the war in Vietnam by the American air force.

"The Renaissance engineers. From Brunelleschi to Leonardo da Vinci"(Florence, Palazzo Strozzi until January 6th 1997).

See also:

Incredible machines, from Brunelleschi to Leonardo,human invention during the Renaissance in an exhibition in Florence


FAN-Florence ART News
Silvia Messeri & SandroPintus