The manuscripts

The only official reproductions of the manuscripts and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci

After Leonardo Da Vinci's death all the manuscripts containing his studies, projects, theories, personal facts, curiosities and thoughts of a lifetime were inherited by his pupil Francesco Melzi, who brought them back from France to Italy.

The existing manuscripts and notebooks is considered to be about one fifth of the whole bulk of papers left by Leonardo; the rest is held to have been lost. Following the death of Melzi in 1570, the manuscripts were either stolen, sold, handed over to others, given away, misappropriated or lost, all due to the negligence of his son Orazio.

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To Leonardo da Vinci writing was as indispensable an activity as being a painter or a scientist. Apart from his Treatise on Painting which had been conceived as a book and was put together later by Melzi, the writings of Leonardo consist essentially in an accumulation of codices that deal with a wide range of subjects at random and in no particular order. The fascination of these codices or even the simple notebooks is huge since they trace the thread of Leonardo's wandering mind and reveal his brilliant inconstancy.

The loss of the codices, manuscripts and notebooks following the deaths of Leonardo and his pupil Francesco Melzi, the muddle they were in and the fact he wrote back to front made it hard in the past to analyse and make known Leonardo's genius, which became famous generally through indirect means. Stolen, hidden, sold under the table or at auction, Leonardo da Vinci's manuscripts are now to be found in every corner of the world: a body of literature and documents scattered through the centuries that nonetheless has never ceased to pulsate with life or to transmit knowledge and visual pleasure. The Giunti edition supports and promotes this quest to make his brilliance known.