Codex Leicester (also briefly known as
Codex Hammer) is a
collection of famous scientific writings by Leonardo da Vinci. The
Codex is named after Thomas Coke, later created Earl of Leicester, who
purchased it in 1719. Of Leonardo's 30 scientific journals, the Codex
may be the most famous of all. The manuscript currently holds the
record for the second highest sale price of any book, as it was sold
Bill Gates at
Christie's auction house on 11 November 1994 in New
York for US$30,802,500 (equivalent to $50,858,000 in 2017).
Codex provides an insight into the inquiring mind of the
Renaissance artist, scientist and thinker as well as an
exceptional illustration of the link between art and science and the
creativity of the scientific process.
The manuscript does not take the form of a single linear script, but
is rather a mixture of Leonardo's observations and theories on
astronomy; the properties of water, rocks, and fossils; air, and
celestial light. The topics addressed include:
an explanation of why fossils can be found on mountains. Hundreds of
years before plate tectonics became accepted scientific theory,
Leonardo believed that mountains had previously formed sea beds, which
were gradually lifted until they formed mountains.
the movement of water. This is the main topic of the Leicester Codex.
Among other things, Leonardo wrote about the flow of water in rivers,
and how it is affected by different obstacles put in its way. From his
observations he made recommendations about bridge construction and
the luminosity of the moon. Leonardo speculated that the moon's
surface is covered by water, which reflects light from the sun. In
this model, waves on the water's surface cause the light to be
reflected in many directions, explaining why the moon is not as bright
as the sun. Leonardo explained that the pale glow on the dark portion
of the crescent moon is caused by sunlight reflected from the Earth.
Thus, he described the phenomenon of planetshine one hundred years
before the German astronomer
Johannes Kepler proved it.
Codex consists of 18 sheets of paper, each folded in half and
written on both sides, forming the complete 72-page document. At one
time the sheets were bound together, but they are now displayed
separately. It was handwritten in Italian by Leonardo, using his
characteristic mirror writing, and supported by copious drawings and
Codex was purchased at auction from the Leicester estate in 1980,
by wealthy industrialist and art collector Armand Hammer, for $5.1
million ($15.1 million in 2017 dollars), later renaming the
Codex Hammer. Hammer commissioned Leonardo da Vinci
scholar, Dr. Carlo Pedretti, to compile the loose pages of the codex
back into its original form. Over the next 7 years Dr. Pedretti
translated each page to English, completing the project in 1987.
Codex was sold to
Bill Gates by
Christie's auction house on 11
November 1994 in New York for US$30,802,500. After Gates acquired
the Codex, he had its pages scanned into digital image files, some of
which were later distributed as screen saver and wallpaper files on a
CD-ROM as part of a
Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 desktop theme,
which would later be included with
Windows 98 and Windows ME. A
CD-ROM version (simply titled Leonardo da Vinci) was
released by Corbis in 1997.
Codex Leicester has been unbound with each page individually
mounted between glass panes. It is put on public display once a year
in a different city around the world. In 2000, it was displayed at
Sydney's Powerhouse Museum. In 2004, it was exhibited in the
Château de Chambord, and in 2005 in Tokyo. One page was exhibited at
the Seattle Museum of Flight's 2006 exhibit "Leonardo da Vinci: Man,
Inventor, Genius". From June to August 2007, the
Codex was the
centerpiece of a two-month exhibition hosted by the Chester Beatty
Library in Dublin, Ireland. The
Codex was on view at the Phoenix Art
Museum in Phoenix, Arizona from January 24, 2015 through April 12,
2015 for the exhibition Leonardo Da Vinci's
Codex Leicester and the
Power of Observation. Its presentation at
Phoenix Art Museum
Phoenix Art Museum was the
first time a work by the hand of Leonardo himself was on view in
Codex was then on view at the Minneapolis Institute
of Arts in an exhibition Leonardo Da Vinci, the
Codex Leicester, and
the Creative Mind that opened June 21, 2015, where it remained on
display until August 30, 2015. As part of the same tour, the Codex
Leicester was also on display at the
North Carolina Museum of Art
North Carolina Museum of Art in
Raleigh, North Carolina from October 31, 2015 to January 17, 2016.
Giovanni della Porta, Michelangelo's student (?)
Giuseppe Ghezzi (until 1719)
Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester (fifth creation)
Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester (fifth creation) (1719–1759)
Leicester estate (1759–1980)
Armand Hammer (1980–1990)
Armand Hammer (1990–1994)
Bill Gates (1994–present)
^ "BBC News: Bay Psalm Book is most expensive printed work at $14.2m".
BBC News. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
^ a b "Christie, Manson and Woods, sale 8030, 11 November 1994".
Christies.com. 1994-11-11. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
^ Kuruvilla, Carol (2017-09-22). "Mormon Church Drops $35 Million On
Printer's Manuscript Of The Book Of Mormon". Huffington Post.
^ Leonardo (da Vinci), Kenneth David Keele, Jane Roberts, Leonardo Da
Vinci: Anatomical Drawings from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, New
York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983
^ a b c d "An introduction to Leonardo da Vinci's Codices Arundel and
^ "The Sunday Tribune – Spectrum". www.tribuneindia.com.
^ Christopher Reynolds and Hugh Hart (15 January 2007). "The Da Vinci
codex versus the museum code". LA Times. Retrieved 27 March
^ Pedretti, catalogue by Jane Roberts ; introduction by Carlo
(1981). Leonardo da Vinci : the
Codex Hammer : formerly the
Codex Leicester. Los Angeles:
Armand Hammer Foundation.
^ "The World Today Archive –
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci manuscript on
display". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
Phoenix Art Museum
Phoenix Art Museum – Exhibition Exhibitions".
^ "Leonardo da Vinci, the
Codex Leicester, and the Creative Mind —
Minneapolis Institute of Art – Minneapolis Institute of Art".
Minneapolis Institute of Art.
^ "Leonardo da Vinci's
Codex Leicester and the Creative Mind –
Exhibitions – NCMA – North Carolina Museum of Art".
Thereza Wells, ed. (2008). Notebooks of Leonardo da VInci, selected by
Irma A. Richter. Oxford World's Classics (new ed.). Oxford: Oxford
University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-929902-7.
Jean Paul Richter (1970). The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. Dover.
ISBN 0-486-22572-0. volume 2: ISBN 0-486-22573-9. A
reprint of the original 1883 edition.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Codex Leicester's Guide
Seattle P-I site for 1997 Seattle Art Museum exhibit of the Codex,
including background info[dead link]
News report of Japan opening, September 2005[dead link]
Leonardo da Vinci : The
Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Ireland
The sale of the
Codex Hammer, November 11 1994
Leonardo da Vinci
List of works
Science and inventions
The Baptism of Christ
The Madonna of the Carnation
Ginevra de' Benci
The Adoration of the Magi
St. Jerome in the Wilderness
Virgin of the Rocks
Portrait of a Musician
Lady with an Ermine
La Belle Ferronnière
Madonna of the Yarnwinder
The Virgin and Child with St. Anne
Head of a Woman (La Scapigliata)
Leda and the Swan
St. John the Baptist
Works on walls
The Last Supper
Sala delle Asse
The Battle of Anghiari
Sforza monument (unexecuted)
Horse and Rider
Rearing Horse and Mounted Warrior
Works on paper
Portrait of a Young Fiancée
The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist
Studies of the Fetus in the Womb
Codex on the Flight of Birds
A Treatise on Painting
De divina proportione
Leonardo's fighting vehicle
Leonardo's self-propelled cart
Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio
Cesare da Sesto
Giovanni Agostino da Lodi
Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis
Mona Lisa replicas and reinterpretations
Things named after da Vinci
Life and history
Melinda Gates Foundation
United States v.
Microsoft antitrust case
"Open Letter to Hobbyists" (1976)
The Road Ahead (1995)
Business @ the Speed of Thought
Business @ the Speed of Thought (1999)
Triumph of the Nerds
Triumph of the Nerds (1996)
Pirates of Silicon Valley
Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)
The Social Network
The Social Network (2010)
William H. Gates Sr.
William H. Gates Sr. (father)
Mary Maxwell Gates
Mary Maxwell Gates (mother)
Melinda Gates (spouse)
Mimi Gardner Gates
Mimi Gardner Gates (stepmother)
Lost on the Grand Banks