Lionardo da Vinci

Studies & Sketches


Studies and Sketches for Pictures and Decorations


This section deals with the various notes and ideas Leonardo had for projects he had either completed, intended to, or was currently working on. They give a glimpse into how da Vinci's worked. A lot of the quotes/ notes don't make much sense without the picture they are referring to and visa versa.  They are also interesting in that some weren't necessarily meant to be read and were notes to himself. Some are also almost purposely obscured and have a hidden meaning. They also sometimes are given to explain what is actually going on in the image and add context. For example he describes what the characters in the Last Supper are doing

"One who was drinking and has left the glass in its position and turned his head towards the speaker. Another, twisting the fingers of his hands together turns with stern brows to his companion. Another with his hands spread open shows the palms, and shrugs his shoulders up his ears making a mouth of astonishment."


Most of the contents are footnotes from Jean Paul Richter and show how much effort he put into explaining the various quotes he included in this section. Eventually I will link and provide the images that are being referred to. 


An artist's manuscript notes can hardly be expected to contain any thing more than incidental references to those masterpieces of his work of which the fame, sounded in the writings of his contemporaries, has left a glorious echo to posterity. We need not therefore be surprised to find that the texts here reproduced do not afford us such comprehensive information as we could wish. On the other hand, the sketches and studies prepared by Leonardo for the two grandest compositions he ever executed: The Fresco of the Last Supper in the Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie at Milan, and the Cartoon of the Battle of Anghiari, for the Palazzo della Signoria at Florence—have been preserved; and, though far from complete, are so much more numerous than the manuscript notes, that we are justified in asserting that in value and interest they amply compensate for the meagerness of the written suggestions.
The notes for the composition of the Last Supper, which are given under nos._ 665 and 666 occur in a MS. at South Kensington, II2, written in the years 1494-1495. This MS. sketch was noted down not more than three or four years before the painting was executed, which justifies the inference that at the time when it was written the painter had not made up his mind definitely even as to the general scheme of the work; and from this we may also conclude that the drawings of apostles' heads at Windsor, in red chalk, must be ascribed to a later date. They are studies for the head of St. Matthew, the fourth figure on Christ's left hand—see Pl. XL VII, the sketch (in black chalk) for the head of St. Philip, the third figure on the left hand—see Pl. XL VIII, for St. Peter's right arm—see Pl. XLIX, and for the expressive head of Judas which has unfortunately somewhat suffered by subsequent restoration of outlines,—see Pl. L. According to a tradition, as unfounded as it is improbable, Leonardo made use of the head of Padre Bandelli, the prior of the convent, as the prototype of his Judas; this however has already been contradicted by Amoretti "Memorie storiche" cap. XIV. The study of the head of a criminal on Pl. LI has, it seems to me, a better claim to be regarded as one of the preparatory sketches for the head of Judas. The Windsor collection contains two old copies of the head of St. Simon, the figure to the extreme left of Christ, both of about equal merit (they are marked as Nos. 21 and 36_)—the second was reproduced on Pl. VIII of the Grosvenor Gallery Publication in_ 1878. There is also at Windsor a drawing in black chalk of folded hands (marked with the old No. 212; _No. LXI of the Grosvenor Gallery Publication) which I believe to be a copy of the hands of St. John, by some unknown pupil. A reproduction of the excellent drawings of heads of Apostles in the possession of H. R. H. the Grand Duchess of Weimar would have been out of my province in this work, and, with regard to them, I must confine myself to pointing out that the difference in style does not allow of our placing the Weimar drawings in the same category as those here reproduced. The mode of grouping in the Weimar drawings is of itself sufficient to indicate that they were not executed before the picture was painted, but, on the contrary, afterwards, and it is, on the face of it, incredible that so great a master should thus have copied from his own work.
The drawing of Christ's head, in the Brera palace at Milan was perhaps originally the work of Leonardo's hand; it has unfortunately been entirely retouched and re-drawn, so that no decisive opinion can be formed as to its genuineness.
The red chalk drawing reproduced on Pl. XLVI is in the Accademia at Venice; it was probably made before the text, Nos._ 664 and 665, _was written.
The two pen and ink sketches on Pl. XLV seem to belong to an even earlier date; the more finished drawing of the two, on the right hand, represents Christ with only St. John and Judas and a third disciple whose action is precisely that described in No._ 666, Pl. 4. It is hardly necessary to observe that the other sketches on this page and the lines of text below the circle (containing the solution of a geometrical problem) have no reference to the picture of the Last Supper. With this figure of Christ may be compared a similar pen and ink drawing reproduced on page 297 below on the left hand; the original is in the Louvre. On this page again the rest of the sketches have no direct bearing on the composition of the Last Supper, not even, as it seems to me, the group of four men at the bottom to the right hand—who are listening to a fifth, in their midst addressing them. Moreover the writing on this page (an explanation of a disk shaped instrument) is certainly not in the same style as we find constantly used by Leonardo after the year 1489.
It may be incidentally remarked that no sketches are known for the portrait of "Mona Lisa", nor do the MS. notes ever allude to it, though according to Vasari the master had it in hand for fully four years.
Leonardo's cartoon for the picture of the battle of Anghiari has shared the fate of the rival work, Michaelangelo's "Bathers summoned to Battle". Both have been lost in some wholly inexplicable manner. I cannot here enter into the remarkable history of this work; I can only give an account of what has been preserved to us of Leonardo's scheme and preparations for executing it. The extent of the material in studies and drawings was till now quite unknown. Their publication here may give some adequate idea of the grandeur of this famous work. The text given as No._ 669 _contains a description of the particulars of the battle, but for the reasons given in the note to this text, I must abandon the idea of taking this passage as the basis of my attempt to reconstruct the picture as the artist conceived and executed it.
I may here remind the reader that Leonardo prepared the cartoon in the Sala del Papa of Santa Maria Novella at Florence and worked there from the end of October 1503 till February 1504, and then was busied with the painting in the Sala del Consiglio in the Palazzo della Signoria, till the work was interrupted at the end of May 1506. (See Milanesi's note to Vasari pp. 43—45 Vol. IV ed. 1880.) Vasari, as is well known, describes only one scene or episode of the cartoon—the Battle for the Standard in the foreground of the composition, as it would seem; and this only was ever finished as a mural decoration in the Sala del Consiglio. This portion of the composition is familiar to all from the disfigured copy engraved by Edelinck. Mariette had already very acutely observed that Edelinck must surely have worked from a Flemish copy of the picture. There is in the Louvre a drawing by Rubens (No. 565) which also represents four horsemen fighting round a standard and which agrees with Edelinck's engraving, but the engraving reverses the drawing. An earlier Flemish drawing, such as may have served as the model for both Rubens and Edelinck, is in the Uffizi collection (see Philpots's Photograph, No. 732). It seems to be a work of the second half of the XVIth century, a time when both the picture and the cartoon had already been destroyed. It is apparently the production of a not very skilled hand. Raphael Trichet du Fresne, 1651, mentions that a small picture by Leonardo himself of the Battle of the Standard was then extant in the Tuileries; by this he probably means the painting on panel which is now in the possession of Madame Timbal in Paris, and which has lately been engraved by Haussoullier as a work by Leonardo. The picture, which is very carefully painted, seems to me however to be the work of some unknown Florentine painter, and probably executed within the first ten years of the XVIth century. At the same time, it would seem to be a copy not from Leonardo's cartoon, but from his picture in the Palazzo della Signoria; at any rate this little picture, and the small Flemish drawing in Florence are the oldest finished copies of this episode in the great composition of the Battle of Anghiari.
In his Life of Raphael, Vasari tells us that Raphael copied certain works of Leonardo's during his stay in Florence. Raphael's first visit to Florence lasted from the middle of October 1504 till July 1505, and he revisited it in the summer of 1506. The hasty sketch, now in the possession of the University of Oxford and reproduced on page 337 also represents the Battle of the Standard and seems to have been made during his first stay, and therefore not from the fresco but from the cartoon; for, on the same sheet we also find, besides an old man's head drawn in Leonardo's style, some studies for the figure of St. John the Martyr which Raphael used in 1505 in his great fresco in the Church of San Severo at Perugia.
Of Leonardo's studies for the Battle of Anghiari I must in the first place point to five, on three of which—Pl. LII 2, Pl. LIII, Pl. LVI—we find studies for the episode of the Standard. The standard bearer, who, in the above named copies is seen stooping, holding on to the staff across his shoulder, is immediately recognisable as the left-hand figure in Raphael's sketch, and we find it in a similar attitude in Leonardo's pen and ink drawing in the British Museum—Pl. LII, 2—the lower figure to the right. It is not difficult to identify the same figure in two more complicated groups in the pen and ink drawings, now in the Accademia at Venice—Pl. LIII, and Pl. LIV—where we also find some studies of foot soldiers fighting. On the sheet in the British Museum—Pl. LII, 2—we find, among others, one group of three horses galloping forwards: one horseman is thrown and protects himself with his buckler against the lance thrusts of two others on horseback, who try to pierce him as they ride past. The same action is repeated, with some variation, in two sketches in pen and ink on a third sheet, in the Accademia at Venice, Pl. LV; a coincidence which suggests the probability of such an incident having actually been represented on the cartoon. We are not, it is true, in a position to declare with any certainty which of these three dissimilar sketches may have been the nearest to the group finally adopted in executing the cartoon.
With regard, however, to one of the groups of horsemen it is possible to determine with perfect certainty not only which arrangement was preferred, but the position it occupied in the composition. The group of horsemen on Pl. LVII is a drawing in black chalk at Windsor, which is there attributed to Leonardo, but which appears to me to be the work of Cesare da Sesto, and the Commendatore Giov. Morelli supports me in this view. It can hardly be doubted that da Sesto, as a pupil of Leonardo's, made this drawing from his master's cartoon, if we compare it with the copy made by Raphael—here reproduced, for just above the fighting horseman in Raphael's copy it is possible to detect a horse which is seen from behind, going at a slower pace, with his tail flying out to the right and the same horse may be seen in the very same attitude carrying a dimly sketched rider, in the foreground of Cesare da Sesto's drawing._
If a very much rubbed drawing in black chalk at Windsor—Pl. LVI—is, as it appears to be, the reversed impression of an original drawing, it is not difficult to supplement from it the portions drawn by Cesare da Sesto. Nay, it may prove possible to reconstruct the whole of the lost cartoon from the mass of materials we now have at hand which we may regard as the nucleus of the composition. A large pen and ink drawing by Raphael in the Dresden collection, representing three horsemen fighting, and another, by Cesare da Sesto, in the Uffizi, of light horsemen fighting are a further contribution which will help us to reconstruct it.
The sketch reproduced on Pl. LV gives a suggestive example of the way in which foot-soldiers may have been introduced into the cartoon as fighting among the groups of horsemen; and I may here take the opportunity of mentioning that, for reasons which it would be out of place to enlarge upon here, I believe the two genuine drawings by Raphael's hand in his "Venetian sketch-book" as it is called—one of a standard bearer marching towards the left, and one of two foot-soldiers armed with spears and fighting with a horseman—to be undoubtedly copies from the cartoon of the Battle of Anghiari.
Leonardo's two drawings, preserved in the museum at Buda-Pesth and reproduced on pages 338 and 339 are preliminary studies for the heads of fighting warriors. The two heads drawn in black chalk (pg. 338) and the one seen in profile, turned to the left, drawn in red chalk (pg. 339), correspond exactly with those of two horsemen in the scene of the fight round the standard as we see them in Madame Timbal's picture and in the other finished copies. An old copy of the last named drawing by a pupil of Leonardo is in MS. C. A. 187b; 561b (See Saggio, Tav. XXII). Leonardo used to make such finished studies of heads as those, drawn on detached sheets, before beginning his pictures from his drawings—compare the preparatory studies for the fresco of the Last Supper, given on Pl. XLVII and Pl. L. Other drawings of heads, all characterised by the expression of vehement excitement that is appropriate to men fighting, are to be seen at Windsor (No. 44) and at the Accademia at Venice (IV, 13); at the back of one of the drawings at Buda-Pesth there is the bust of a warrior carrying a spear on his left shoulder, holding up the left arm (See Csatakepek a XVI—lk Szazadbol osszeallitotta Pvlszky Karoly). These drawings may have been made for other portions of the cartoon, of which no copies exist, and thus we are unable to identify these preparatory drawings. Finally I may add that a sketch of fighting horse and foot soldiers, formerly in the possession of M. Thiers and published by Charles Blanc in his "Vies des Peintres" can hardly be accepted as genuine. It is not to be found, as I am informed, among the late President's property, and no one appears to know where it now is.
An attempted reconstruction of the Cartoon, which is not only unsuccessful but perfectly unfounded, is to be seen in the lithograph by Bergeret, published in Charles Blanc's "Vies des peintres" and reprinted in "The great Artists. L. da Vinci", p. 80. This misleading pasticcio may now be rejected without hesitation.
There are yet a few original drawings by Leonardo which might be mentioned here as possibly belonging to the cartoon of the Battle; such as the pen and ink sketches on Pl. XXI and on Pl. XXXVIII, No. 3, but we should risk too wide a departure from the domain of ascertained fact.
With regard to the colours and other materials used by Leonardo the reader may be referred to the quotations from the accounts for the picture in question given by Milanesi in his edition of Vasari (Vol. IV, p. 44, note) where we find entries of a similar character to those in Leonardo's note books for the year 1505; S. K. M. 12 (see No. 636).
That Leonardo was employed in designing decorations and other preparations for high festivals, particularly for the court of Milan, we learn not only from the writings of his contemporaries but from his own incidental allusions; for instance in MS. C. l5b (1), l. 9. In the arrangement of the texts referring to this I have placed those first, in which historical personages are named—Nos. 670-674. Among the descriptions of Allegorical subjects two texts lately found at Oxford have been included, Nos. 676 and 677. They are particularly interesting because they are accompanied by large sketches which render the meaning of the texts perfectly clear. It is very intelligible that in other cases, where there are no illustrative sketches, the notes must necessarily remain obscure or admit of various interpretations. The literature of the time affords ample evidence of the use of such allegorical representations, particularly during the Carnival and in Leonardo's notes we find the Carnival expressly mentioned—Nos. 685 and 704. Vasari in his Life of Pontormo, particularly describes that artist's various undertakings for Carnival festivities. These very graphic descriptions appear to me to throw great light in more ways than one on the meaning of Leonardo's various notes as to allegorical representations and also on mottoes and emblems—Nos. 681-702. In passing judgment on the allegorical sketches and emblems it must not be overlooked that even as pictures they were always accompanied by explanations in words. Several finished drawings of allegorical compositions or figures have been preserved, but as they have no corresponding explanation in the MSS. they had no claim to be reproduced here. The female figure on Pl. XXVI may perhaps be regarded as a study for such an allegorical painting, of which the purport would have been explained by an inscription.

On Madonna pictures.


[In the autumn of] 1478 I began the two Madonna [pictures].

[Footnote: Photographs of this page have been published by BRAUN,
No. 439, and PHILPOT, No. 718.
1. Incominciai. We have no other information as to the two pictures of the Madonna here spoken of. As Leonardo here tells us that he had begun two Madonnas at the same time, the word 'incominciai' may be understood to mean that he had begun at the same time preparatory studies for two pictures to be painted later. If this is so, the non-existence of the pictures may be explained by supposing that they were only planned and never executed. I may here mention a few studies for pictures of the Madonna which probably belong to this early time; particularly a drawing in silver-point on bluish tinted paper at Windsor—see Pl. XL, No. 3—, a drawing of which the details have almost disappeared in the original but have been rendered quite distinct in the reproduction; secondly a slight pen and ink sketch in, the Codex VALLARDI, in the Louvre, fol. 64, No. 2316; again a silver point drawing of a Virgin and child drawn over again with the pen in the His de la Salle collection also in the Louvre, No. 101. (See Vicomte BOTH DE TAUZIA, Notice des dessins de la collection His de la Salle, exposes au Louvre. Paris 1881, pp. 80, 81.) This drawing is, it is true, traditionally ascribed to Raphael, but the author of the catalogue very justly points out its great resemblance with the sketches for Madonnas in the British Museum which are indisputably Leonardo's. Some of these have been published by Mr. HENRY WALLIS in the Art Journal, New Ser. No. 14, Feb. 1882. If the non-existence of the two pictures here alluded to justifies my hypothesis that only studies for such pictures are meant by the text, it may also be supposed that the drawings were made for some comrade in VERROCCHIO'S atelier. (See VASARI, Sansoni's ed. Florence 1880. Vol. IV, p. 564): "E perche a Lerenzo piaceva fuor di modo la maniera di Lionardo, la seppe cosi bene imitare, che niuno fu che nella pulitezza e nel finir l'opere con diligenza l'imitasse più di lui." Leonardo's notes give me no opportunity of discussing the pictures executed by him in Florence, before he moved to Milan. So the studies for the unfinished picture of the Adoration of the Magi—in the Uffizi, Florence—cannot be described here, nor would any discussion about the picture in the Louvre "La Vierge aux Rochers" be appropriate in the absence of all allusion to it in the MSS. Therefore, when I presently add a few remarks on this painting in explanation of the Master's drawings for it, it will be not merely with a view to facilitate critical researches about the picture now in the National Gallery, London, which by some critics has been pronounced to be a replica of the Louvre picture, but also because I take this opportunity of publishing several finished studies of the Master's which, even if they were not made in Florence but later in Milan, must have been prior to the painting of the Last Supper. The original picture in Paris is at present so disfigured by dust and varnish that the current reproductions in photography actually give evidence more of the injuries to which the picture has been exposed than of the original work itself. The wood-cut given on p. 344, is only intended to give a general notion of the composition. It must be understood that the outline and expression of the heads, which in the picture is obscured but not destroyed, is here altogether missed. The facsimiles which follow are from drawings which appear to me to be studies for "La Vierge aux Rochers."


A drawing in silver point on brown toned paper of a woman's head looking to the left. In the Royal Library at Turin, apparently a study from nature for the Angel's head

(Pl. XLII).


A study of drapery for the left leg of the same figure, done with the brush, Indian ink on greenish paper, the lights heightened with white.

The original is at Windsor, No. 223. The reproduction Pl. XLIII is defective in the shadow on the upper part of the thigh, which is not so deep as in the original; it should also be observed that the folds of the drapery near the hips are somewhat altered in the finished work in the Louvre, while the London copy shows a greater resemblance to this study in that particular.



A study in red chalk for the bust of the Infant Christ

—No. 3 in the Windsor collection (Pl. XLIV). The well-known silver-point drawing on pale green paper, in the Louvre, of a boy's head (No. 363 in REISET, Notice des dessins, Ecoles d'Italie) seems to me to be a slightly altered copy, either from the original picture or from this red chalk study.


A silver-point study on greenish paper, for the head of John the Baptist

Reproduced on p. 342. This was formerly in the Codex Vallardi and is now exhibited among the drawings in the Louvre. The lights are, in the original, heightened with white; the outlines, particularly round the head and ear, are visibly restored.
There is a study of an outstretched hand—No. 288 in the Windsor collection—which was published in the Grosvenor Gallery Publication, 1878, simply under the title of: "No. 72 Study of a hand, pointing" which, on the other hand, I regard as a copy by a pupil. The action occurs in the kneeling angel of the Paris picture and not in the London copy.
These four genuine studies form, I believe, a valuable substitute in the absence of any MS. notes referring to the celebrated Paris picture.]

Bernardo di Bandino's Portrait.


A tan-coloured small cap, A doublet of black serge, A black jerkin lined A blue coat lined, with fur of foxes' breasts, and the collar of the jerkin covered with black and white stippled velvet Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli; black hose.

[Footnote: These eleven lines of text are by the side of the pen and ink drawing of a man hanged—Pl. LXII, No. 1. This drawing was exhibited in 1879 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the compilers of the catalogue amused themselves by giving the victim's name as follows: "Un pendu, vetu d'une longue robe, les mains liées sur le dos … Bernardo di Bendino Barontigni, marchand de pantalons" (see Catalogue descriptif des Dessins de Mailres anciens exposes a l'Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris 1879; No. 83, pp. 9-10). Now, the criminal represented here, is none other than Bernardino di Bandino Baroncelli the murderer of Giuliano de'Medici, whose name as a coadjutor in the conspiracy of the Pazzi has gained a melancholy notoriety by the tragedy of the 26th April 1478. Bernardo was descended from an ancient family and the son of the man who, under King Ferrante, was President of the High Court of Justice in Naples. His ruined fortunes, it would seem, induced him to join the Pazzi; he and Francesco Pazzi were entrusted with the task of murdering Giuliano de'Medici on the fixed day. Their victim not appearing in the cathedral at the hour when they expected him, the two conspirators ran to the palace of the Medici and induced him to accompany them. Giuliano then took his place in the chancel of the Cathedral, and as the officiating priest raised the Host—the sign agreed upon—Bernardo stabbed the unsuspecting Giuliano in the breast with a short sword; Giuliano stepped backwards and fell dead. The attempt on Lorenzo's life however, by the other conspirators at the same moment, failed of success. Bernardo no sooner saw that Lorenzo tried to make his escape towards the sacristy, than he rushed upon him, and struck down Francesco Nori who endeavoured to protect Lorenzo. How Lorenzo then took refuge behind the brazen doors of the sacristy, and how, as soon as Giuliano's death was made known, the further plans of the conspirators were defeated, while a terrible vengeance overtook all the perpetrators and accomplices, this is no place to tell. Bernardo Bandini alone seemed to be favoured by fortune; he hid first in the tower of the Cathedral, and then escaped undiscovered from Florence. Poliziano, who was with Lorenzo in the Cathedral, says in his 'Conjurationis Pactianae Commentarium': "Bandinus fugitans in Tiphernatem incidit, a quo in aciem receptus Senas pervenit." And Gino Capponi in summing up the reports of the numerous contemporary narrators of the event, says: "Bernardo Bandini ricoverato in Costantinopoli, fu per ordine del Sultano preso e consegnato a un Antonio di Bernardino dei Medici, che Lorenzo aveva mandato apposta in Turchia: così era grande la potenza di quest' uomo e grande la voglia di farne mostra e che non restasse in vita chi aveagli ucciso il fratello, fu egli applicato appena giunto" (Storia della Republica di Firenze II, 377, 378). Details about the dates may be found in the Chronichetta di Belfredello Strinati Alfieri: "Bernardo di Bandino Bandini sopradetto ne venne preso da Gostantinopoti a dì 14. Dicembre 1479 e disaminato, che fu al Bargello, fu impiccato alle finestre di detto Bargello allato alla Doana a dì 29. Dicembre MCCCCLXXIX che pochi dì stette." It may however be mentioned with reference to the mode of writing the name of the assassin that, though most of his contemporaries wrote Bernardo Bandini, in the Breve Chronicon Caroli Petri de Joanninis he is called Bernardo di Bandini Baroncelli; and, in the Sententiae Domini Matthaei de Toscana, Bernardus Joannis Bandini de Baroncellis, as is written on Leonardo's drawing of him when hanged. Now VASARI, in the life of Andrea del Castagno (Vol. II, 680; ed. Milanesi 1878), tells us that in 1478 this painter was commissioned by order of the Signoria to represent the members of the Pazzi conspiracy as traitors, on the facade of the Palazzo del Podestà—the Bargello. This statement is obviously founded on a mistake, for Andrea del Castagno was already dead in 1457. He had however been commissioned to paint Rinaldo degli Albizzi, when declared a rebel and exiled in 1434, and his adherents, as hanging head downwards; and in consequence he had acquired the nickname of Andrea degl' Impiccati. On the 21st July 1478 the Council of Eight came to the following resolution: "item servatis etc. deliberaverunt et santiaverunt Sandro Botticelli pro ejus labore in pingendo proditores flor. quadraginta largos" (see G. MILANESI, Arch. star. VI (1862) p. 5 note.)
As has been told, Giuliano de' Medici was murdered on the 26th April 1478, and we see by this that only three months later Botticelli was paid for his painting of the "proditores". We can however hardly suppose that all the members of the conspiracy were depicted by him in fresco on the facade of the palace, since no fewer than eighty had been condemned to death. We have no means of knowing whether, besides Botticelli, any other painters, perhaps Leonardo, was commissioned, when the criminals had been hanged in person out of the windows of the Palazzo del Podestà to represent them there afterwards in effigy in memory of their disgrace. Nor do we know whether the assassin who had escaped may at first not have been provisionally represented as hanged in effigy. Now, when we try to connect the historical facts with this drawing by Leonardo reproduced on Pl. LXII, No. I, and the full description of the conspirator's dress and its colour on the same sheet, there seems to be no reasonable doubt that Bernardo Bandini is here represented as he was actually hanged on December 29th, 1479, after his capture at Constantinople. The dress is certainly not that in which he committed the murder. A long furred coat might very well be worn at Constantinople or at Florence in December, but hardly in April. The doubt remains whether Leonardo described Bernardo's dress so fully because it struck him as remarkable, or whether we may not rather suppose that this sketch was actually made from nature with the intention of using it as a study for a wall painting to be executed. It cannot be denied that the drawing has all the appearance of having been made for this purpose. Be this as it may, the sketch under discussion proves, at any rate, that Leonardo was in Florence in December 1479, and the note that accompanies it is valuable as adding one more characteristic specimen to the very small number of his MSS. that can be proved to have been written between 1470 and 1480.]


Notes on the Last Supper



One who was drinking and has left the glass in its position and turned his head towards the speaker.

Another, twisting the fingers of his hands together turns with stern brows to his companion [6]. Another with his hands spread open shows the palms, and shrugs his shoulders up his ears making a mouth of astonishment [8].

[9] Another speaks into his neighbour's ear and he, as he listens to him, turns towards him to lend an ear [10], while he holds a knife in one hand, and in the other the loaf half cut through by the knife. [13] Another who has turned, holding a knife in his hand, upsets with his hand a glass on the table [14].

[Footnote 665, 666: In the original MS. there is no sketch to accompany these passages, and if we compare them with those drawings made by Leonardo in preparation for the composition of the picture—Pl. XLV, XLVI—, (compare also Pl. LII, 1 and the drawings on p. 297) it is impossible to recognise in them a faithful interpretation of the whole of this text; but, if we compare these passages with the finished picture (see p. 334) we shall see that in many places they coincide. For instance, compare No. 665, 1. 6—8, with the fourth figure on the right hand of Christ. The various actions described in lines 9—10, 13—14 are to be seen in the group of Peter, John and Judas; in the finished picture however it is not a glass but a salt cellar that Judas is upsetting.]



Another lays his hand on the table and is looking. Another blows his mouthful. [3] Another leans forward to see the speaker shading his eyes with his hand. [5] Another draws back behind the one who leans forward, and sees the speaker between the wall and the man who is leaning

[Footnote: 6. chinato. I have to express my regret for having misread this word, written cinato in the original, and having altered it to "ciclo" when I first published this text, in 'The Academy' for Nov. 8, 1879 immediately after I had discovered it, and subsequently in the small biography of Leonardo da Vinci (Great Artists) p. 29.].
[Footnote: In No. 666. Line I must refer to the furthest figure on the left; 3, 5 and 6 describe actions which are given to the group of disciples on the left hand of Christ.]




Count Giovanni, the one with the Cardinal of Mortaro.

[Footnote: As this note is in the same small Manuscript as the passage here immediately preceding it, I may be justified in assuming that Leonardo meant to use the features of the person here named as a suitable model for the figure of Christ. The celebrated drawing of the head of Christ, now hanging in the Brera Gallery at Milan, has obviously been so much restored that it is now impossible to say, whether it was ever genuine. We have only to compare it with the undoubtedly genuine drawings of heads of the disciples in PI. XLVII, XLVIII and L, to admit that not a single line of the Milan drawing in its present state can be by the same hand.]



Philip, Simon, Matthew, Thomas, James the Greater, Peter, Philip,
Andrew, Bartholomew.

[Footnote: See PI. XLVI. The names of the disciples are given in the order in which they are written in the original, from right to left, above each head. The original drawing is here slightly reduced in scale; it measures 39 centimetres in length by 26 in breadth.]



  • On the battle of Anghiari.
  • Florentine
  • Neri di Gino Capponi
  • Bernardetto de' Medici
  • Micheletto,
  • Niccolo da Pisa
  • Conte Francesco
  • Pietro Gian Paolo
  • Guelfo Orsino,
  • Messer Rinaldo degli
  • Albizzi

Begin with the address of Niccolo Piccinino to the soldiers and the banished Florentines among whom are Messer Rinaldo degli Albizzi and other Florentines. Then let it be shown how he first mounted on horseback in armour; and the whole army came after him—40 squadrons of cavalry, and 2000 foot soldiers went with him. Very early in the morning the Patriarch went up a hill to reconnoitre the country, that is the hills, fields and the valley watered by a river; and from thence he beheld Niccolo Picinino coming from Borgo San Sepolcro with his people, and with a great dust; and perceiving them he returned to the camp of his own people and addressed them. Having spoken he prayed to God with clasped hands, when there appeared a cloud in which Saint Peter appeared and spoke to the Patriarch.—500 cavalry were sent forward by the Patriarch to hinder or check the rush of the enemy. In the foremost troop Francesco the son of Niccolo Piccinino [24] was the first to attack the bridge which was held by the Patriarch and the Florentines. Beyond the bridge to his left he sent forward some infantry to engage ours, who drove them back, among whom was their captain Micheletto [29] whose lot it was to be that day at the head of the army. Here, at this bridge there is a severe struggle; our men conquer and the enemy is repulsed. Here Guido and Astorre, his brother, the Lord of Faenza with a great number of men, re-formed and renewed the fight, and rushed upon the Florentines with such force that they recovered the bridge and pushed forward as far as the tents. But Simonetto advanced with 600 horse, and fell upon the enemy and drove them back once more from the place, and recaptured the bridge; and behind him came more men with 2000 horse soldiers. And thus for a long time they fought with varying fortune. But then the Patriarch, in order to divert the enemy, sent forward Niccolo da Pisa [44] and Napoleone Orsino, a beardless lad, followed by a great multitude of men, and then was done another great feat of arms. At the same time Niccolo Piccinino urged forward the remnant of his men, who once more made ours give way; and if it had not been that the Patriarch set himself at their head and, by his words and deeds controlled the captains, our soldiers would have taken to flight. The Patriarch had some artillery placed on the hill and with these he dispersed the enemy's infantry; and the disorder was so complete that Niccolo began to call back his son and all his men, and they took to flight towards Borgo. And then began a great slaughter of men; none escaped but the foremost of those who had fled or who hid themselves. The battle continued until sunset, when the Patriarch gave his mind to recalling his men and burying the dead, and afterwards a trophy was erected.

[Footnote: 669. This passage does not seem to me to be in Leonardo's hand, though it has hitherto been generally accepted as genuine. Not only is the writing unlike his, but the spelling also is quite different. I would suggest that this passage is a description of the events of the battle drawn up for the Painter by order of the Signoria, perhaps by some historian commissioned by them, to serve as a scheme or programme of the work. The whole tenor of the style seems to me to argue in favour of this theory; and besides, it would be in no way surprising that such a document should have been preserved among Leonardo's autographs.]


Allegorical representations referring to the duke of Milan



Ermine with blood Galeazzo, between calm weather and a representation of a tempest.

[Footnote: 670. Only the beginning of this text is legible; the writing is much effaced and the sense is consequently obscure. It seems to refer like the following passage to an allegorical picture.]


Il Moro with spectacles, and Envy depicted with False Report and
Justice black for il Moro.

Labour as having a branch of vine [or a screw] in her hand.


Il Moro as representing Good Fortune, with hair, and robes, and his hands in front, and Messer Gualtieri taking him by the robes with a respectful air from below, having come in from the front [5].

Again, Poverty in a hideous form running behind a youth. Il Moro covers him with the skirt of his robe, and with his gilt sceptre he threatens the monster.

A plant with its roots in the air to represent one who is at his last;—a robe and Favour.

Of tricks [or of magpies] and of burlesque poems [or of starlings].

Those who trust themselves to live near him, and who will be a large crowd, these shall all die cruel deaths; and fathers and mothers together with their families will be devoured and killed by cruel creatures.

[Footnote: 1—10 have already been published by Amoretti in Memorie Storiche cap. XII. He adds this note with regard to Gualtieri: "A questo M. Gualtieri come ad uomo generoso e benefico scrive il Bellincioni un Sonetto (pag, 174) per chiedergli un piacere; e 'l Tantio rendendo ragione a Lodovico il Moro, perche pubblicasse le Rime del Bellincioni; ciò hammi imposto, gli dice: l'humano fidele, prudente e sollicito executore delli tuoi comandamenti Gualtero, che fa in tutte le cose ove tu possi far utile, ogni studio vi metti." A somewhat mysterious and evidently allegorical composition—a pen and ink drawing—at Windsor, see PL LVIII, contains a group of figures in which perhaps the idea is worked out which is spoken of in the text, lines 1-5.]



He was blacker than a hornet, his eyes were as red as a burning fire and he rode on a tall horse six spans across and more than 20 long with six giants tied up to his saddle-bow and one in his hand which he gnawed with his teeth. And behind him came boars with tusks sticking out of their mouths, perhaps ten spans.


Allegorical representations



Above the helmet place a half globe, which is to signify our hemisphere, in the form of a world; on which let there be a peacock, richly decorated, and with his tail spread over the group; and every ornament belonging to the horse should be of peacock's feathers on a gold ground, to signify the beauty which comes of the grace bestowed on him who is a good servant.

On the shield a large mirror to signify that he who truly desires favour must be mirrored in his virtues.

On the opposite side will be represented Fortitude, in like manner in her place with her pillar in her hand, robed in white, to signify … And all crowned; and Prudence with 3 eyes. The housing of the horse should be of plain cloth of gold closely sprinkled with peacock's eyes, and this holds good for all the housings of the horse, and the man's dress. And the man's crest and his neck-chain are of peacock's feathers on golden ground.

On the left side will be a wheel, the centre of which should be attached to the centre of the horse's hinder thigh piece, and in the centre Prudence is seen robed in red, Charity sitting in a fiery chariot and with a branch of laurel in her hand, to signify the hope which comes of good service.

[21] Messer Antonio Grimani of Venice companion of Antonio Maria [23].

[Footnote: Messer Antonio Gri. His name thus abbreviated is, there can be no doubt, Grimani. Antonio Grimani was the famous Doge who in 1499 commanded the Venetian fleet in battle against the Turks. But after the abortive conclusion of the expedition—Ludovico being the ally of the Turks who took possession of Friuli—, Grimani was driven into exile; he went to live at Rome with his son Cardinal Domenico Grimani. On being recalled to Venice he filled the office of Doge from 1521 to 1523. Antonio Maria probably means Antonio Maria Grimani, the Patriarch of Aquileia.]


Fame should be depicted as covered all over with tongues instead of feathers, and in the figure of a bird.


Pleasure and Pain represent as twins, since there never is one without the other; and as if they were united back to back, since they are contrary to each other.


Clay, gold.

[Footnote: 7. oro. fango: gold, clay. These words stand below the allegorical figure.]

If you take Pleasure know that he has behind him one who will deal you Tribulation and Repentance.

[9] This represents Pleasure together with Pain, and show them as twins because one is never apart from the other. They are back to back because they are opposed to each other; and they exist as contraries in the same body, because they have the same basis, inasmuch as the origin of pleasure is labour and pain, and the various forms of evil pleasure are the origin of pain. Therefore it is here represented with a reed in his right hand which is useless and without strength, and the wounds it inflicts are poisoned. In Tuscany they are put to support beds, to signify that it is here that vain dreams come, and here a great part of life is consumed. It is here that much precious time is wasted, that is, in the morning, when the mind is composed and rested, and the body is made fit to begin new labours; there again many vain pleasures are enjoyed; both by the mind in imagining impossible things, and by the body in taking those pleasures that are often the cause of the failing of life. And for these reasons the reed is held as their support.

[Footnote: 676. The pen and ink drawing on PI. LIX belongs to this passage.]
[Footnote: 8. tribolatione. In the drawing caltrops may be seen lying in the old man's right hand, others are falling and others again are shewn on the ground. Similar caltrops are drawn in MS. Tri. p. 98 and underneath them, as well as on page 96 the words triboli di ferro are written. From the accompanying text it appears that they were intended to be scattered on the ground at the bottom of ditches to hinder the advance of the enemy. Count Giulio Porro who published a short account of the Trivulzio MS. in the "Archivio Storico Lombardo", Anno VIII part IV (Dec. 31, 1881) has this note on the passages treating of "triboli": "E qui aggiungerò che anni sono quando venne fabbricata la nuova cavallerizza presso il castello di Milano, ne furono trovati due che io ho veduto ed erano precisamente quali si trovano descritti e disegnati da Leonardo in questo codice".
There can therefore be no doubt that this means of defence was in general use, whether it were originally Leonardo's invention or not. The play on the word "tribolatione", as it occurs in the drawing at Oxford, must then have been quite intelligible.]
[Footnote: 9—22. These lines, in the original, are written on the left side of the page and refer to the figure shown on PI. LXI. Next to it is placed the group of three figures given in PI. LX No. I. Lines 21 and 22, which are written under it, are the only explanation given.]

Evil-thinking is either Envy or Ingratitude.


Envy must be represented with a contemptuous motion of the hand towards heaven, because if she could she would use her strength against God; make her with her face covered by a mask of fair seeming; show her as wounded in the eye by a palm branch and by an olive-branch, and wounded in the ear by laurel and myrtle, to signify that victory and truth are odious to her. Many thunderbolts should proceed from her to signify her evil speaking. Let her be lean and haggard because she is in perpetual torment. Make her heart gnawed by a swelling serpent, and make her with a quiver with tongues serving as arrows, because she often offends with it. Give her a leopard's skin, because this creature kills the lion out of envy and by deceit. Give her too a vase in her hand full of flowers and scorpions and toads and other venomous creatures; make her ride upon death, because Envy, never dying, never tires of ruling. Make her bridle, and load her with divers kinds of arms because all her weapons are deadly.



No sooner is Virtue born than Envy comes into the world to attack it; and sooner will there be a body without a shadow than Virtue without Envy.

[Footnote: The larger of the two drawings on PI. LXI is explained by the first 21 lines of this passage. L. 22 and 23, which are written above the space between the two drawings, do not seem to have any reference to either. L. 24-27 are below the allegorical twin figure which they serve to explain.]


When Pluto's Paradise is opened, then there may be devils placed in twelve pots like openings into hell. Here will be Death, the Furies, ashes, many naked children weeping; living fires made of various colours….


  • John the Baptist  
  • Saint Augustin 
  • Saint Peter
  • Paul 
  • Elisabeth 
  • Saint Clara 
  • Bernardino 
  • Our Lady Louis 
  • Bonaventura 
  • Anthony of Padua. 
  • Saint Francis. 
  • Francis, Anthony, a lily and book; Bernardino with the [monogram of] Jesus, Louis with 3 fleur de lys on his breast and the crown at his feet, Bonaventura with Seraphim, Saint Clara with the tabernacle, Elisabeth with a Queen's crown.
[Footnote: 679. The text of the first six lines is written within a square space of the same size as the copy here given. The names are written in the margin following the order in which they are here printed. In lines 7—12 the names of those saints are repeated of whom it seemed necessary to point out the emblems.]

List of drawings.


A head, full face, of a young man with fine flowing hair,

 Many flowers drawn from nature,

  A head, full face, with curly hair,
  Certain figures of Saint Jerome,
  [6] The measurements of a figure,
  Drawings of furnaces.
  A head of the Duke,
  [9] many designs for knots,
  4 studies for the panel of Saint Angelo
  A small composition of Girolamo da Fegline,
  A head of Christ done with the pen,
  [13] 8 Saint Sebastians,
  Several compositions of Angels,
  A chalcedony,
  A head in profile with fine hair,
  Some pitchers seen in(?) perspective,
  Some machines for ships,
  Some machines for waterworks,
  A head, a portrait of Atalanta raising her
  The head of Geronimo da Fegline,
  The head of Gian Francisco Borso,
  Several throats of old women,
  Several heads of old men,
  Several nude figures, complete,
  Several arms, eyes, feet, and positions,
  A Madonna, finished,
  Another, nearly in profile,
  Head of Our Lady ascending into Heaven,
  A head of an old man with long chin,
  A head of a gypsy girl,
  A head with a hat on,
  A representation of the Passion, a cast,
  A head of a girl with her hair gathered in a knot,
  A head, with the brown hair dressed.

[Footnote: 680. This has already been published by AMORETTI Memorie storiche cap. XVI. His reading varies somewhat from that here given, e. g. l. 5 and 6. Certi Sangirolami in su d'una figura; and instead of I. 13. Un San Bastiano.]
[Footnote: 680. 9. Molti disegni di gruppi. VASARI in his life of Leonardo (IV, 21, ed. MILANESI 1880) says: "Oltreché perse tempo fino a disegnare gruppi di corde fatti con ordine, e che da un capo seguissi tutto il resto fino all' altro, tanto che s'empiessi un tondo; che se ne vede in istampa uno difficilissimo e molto bello, e nel mezzo vi sono queste parole: Leonardus Vinci Accademia". Gruppi must here be understood as a technical expression for those twisted ornaments which are well known through wood cuts. AMORETTI mentions six different ones in the Ambrosian Library. I am indebted to M. DELABORDE for kindly informing me that the original blocks of these are preserved in his department in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. On the cover of these volumes is a copy from one of them. The size of the original is 23 1/2 centimetres by 26 1/4. The centre portion of another is given on p. 361. G. Govi remarks on these ornaments (Saggio p. 22): "Codesti gruppi eran probabilmente destinati a servir di modello a ferri da rilegatori per adornar le cartelle degli scolari (?). Fregi somigliantissimi a questi troviamo infatti impressi in oro sui cartoni di vari volumi contemporanei, e li vediam pur figurare nelle lettere iniziali di alcune edizioni del tempo."
Dürer who copied them, omitting the inscription, added to the second impressions his own monogram. In his diary he designates them simply as "Die sechs Knoten" (see THAUSING, Life of A. Dürer I, 362, 363). In Leonardo's MSS. we find here and there little sketches or suggestions for similar ornaments. Compare too G. MONGERI, L'Arte in Milano, p. 315 where an ornament of the same character is given from the old decorations of the vaulted ceiling of the Sacristy of S. Maria delle Grazie.]
[Footnote: 680, 17. The meaning in which the word coppi, literally pitchers, is here used I am unable to determine; but a change to copie seems to me too doubtful to be risked.]


  Stubborn rigour.
  Doomed rigour.

[Footnote: See PI. LXII, No. 2, the two upper pen and ink drawings. The originals, in the Windsor collection are slightly washed with colour. The background is blue sky; the plough and the instrument with the compass are reddish brown, the sun is tinted yellow].


  Obstacles cannot crush me
  Every obstacle yields to stern resolve
  He who is fixed to a star does not change
  his mind.

[Footnote: This text is written to elucidate two sketches which were obviously the first sketches for the drawings reproduced on PL LXII, No. 2.]


Ivy is [a type] of longevity.

[Footnote: In the original there is, near this text, a sketch of a coat wreathed above the waist with ivy.]


Truth the sun. falsehood a mask. innocence, malignity.

Fire destroys falsehood, that is sophistry, and restores truth, driving out darkness.

Fire may be represented as the destroy of all sophistry, and as the image and demonstration of truth; because it is light and drives out darkness which conceals all essences [or subtle things].

[Footnote: See PI. LXIII. L. 1-8 are in the middle of the page; 1. 9-14 to the right below; 1. 15-22 below in the middle column. The rest of the text is below the sketches on the left. There are some other passages on this page relating to geometry.]


Fire destroys all sophistry, that is deceit; and maintains truth alone, that is gold.

Truth at last cannot be hidden. Dissimulation is of no avail. Dissimulation is to no purpose before so great a judge. Falsehood puts on a mask. Nothing is hidden under the sun.

Fire is to represent truth because it destroys all sophistry and lies; and the mask is for lying and falsehood which conceal truth.


  Movement will cease before we are
  of being useful.

  Movement will fail sooner than usefulness.
  Death sooner than I am never weary of
  weariness. being useful,
  In serving others I is a motto for carnval.
  cannot do enough. Without fatigue.

  No labour is
  sufficient to tire me.

Hands into which ducats and precious stones fall like snow; they never become tired by serving, but this service is only for its utility and not for our I am never weary own benefit. of being useful.

Naturally nature has so disposed me.


This shall be placed in the hand of Ingratitude. Wood nourishes the fire that consumes it.



When the sun appears which dispels darkness in general, you put out the light which dispelled it for you in particular for your need and convenience.


  On this side Adam and Eve on the other;
  O misery of mankind, of how many things do
  you make yourself the slave for money!

[Footnote: See PI. LXIV. The figures of Adam and Eve in the clouds here alluded to would seem to symbolise their superiority to all earthly needs.]


Thus are base unions sundered.

[Footnote: A much blurred sketch is on the page by this text. It seems to represent an unravelled plait or tissue.]


Constancy does not begin, but is that which perseveres.

[Footnote: A drawing in red chalk, also rubbed, which stands in the original in the middle of this text, seems to me to be intended for a sword hilt, held in a fist.]


  Love, Fear, and Esteem,—
  Write these on three stones. Of servants.


Prudence Strength.


Fame alone raises herself to Heaven, because virtuous things are in favour with God.

Disgrace should be represented upside down, because all her deeds are contrary to God and tend to hell.


Short liberty.


  Nothing is so much to be feared as Evil
  This Evil Report is born of life.


Not to disobey.


  A felled tree which is shooting

  I am still hopeful.
  A falcon,

[Footnote: I. Albero tagliato. This emblem was displayed during the Carnival at Florence in 1513. See VASARI VI, 251, ed. MILANESI 1881. But the coincidence is probably accidental.]



Truth here makes Falsehood torment lying tongues.


  Such as harm is when it hurts me not,
  is good which avails me not.

[Footnote: See PI. LX, No. 2. Compare this sketch with that on PI. LXII, No. 2. Below the two lines of the text there are two more lines: li gùchi (giunchi) che ritégò le paglucole (pagliucole) chelli (che li) anniegano.]


He who offends others, does not secure himself.

[Footnote: See PI. LX, No. 3.]



[Footnote: See PI. LX, No. 4. Below the bottom sketches are the unintelligible words "sta stilli." For "Ingratitudo" compare also Nos. 686 and 687.]



One's thoughts turn towards Hope.

[Footnote: 702. By the side of this passage is a sketch of a cage with a bird sitting in it.]

Ornaments and Decorations for feasts



A bird, for a comedy.

[Footnote: The biographies say so much, and the author's notes say so little of the invention attributed to Leonardo of making artificial birds fly through the air, that the text here given is of exceptional interest from being accompanied by a sketch. It is a very slight drawing of a bird with outspread wings, which appears to be sliding down a stretched string. Leonardo's flying machines and his studies of the flight of birds will be referred to later.]





To make a beautiful dress cut it in thin cloth and give it an odoriferous varnish, made of oil of turpentine and of varnish in grain, with a pierced stencil, which must be wetted, that it may not stick to the cloth; and this stencil may be made in a pattern of knots which afterwards may be filled up with black and the ground with white millet

[Footnote 7: The grains of black and white millet would stick to the varnish and look like embroidery.]
[Footnote: Ser Giuliano, da Vinci the painter's brother, had been commissioned, with some others, to order and to execute the garments of the Allegorical figures for the Carnival at Florence in 1515—16; VASARI however is incorrect in saying of the Florentine Carnival of 1513: "equelli che feciono ed ordinarono gli abiti delle figure furono Ser Piero da Vinci, padre di Lonardo, e Bernardino di Giordano, bellissimi ingegni" (See MILANESI'S ed. Voi. VI, pg. 251.)]


Snow taken from the high peaks of mountains might be carried to hot places and let to fall at festivals in open places at summer time.


The notes on Sculpture





Leonardo only dabbled in Sculpture and his descriptions of it put it below painting in it's level of sophistication. He barely mentions it and only seems to have ever a few sculptures. Although he did write quite a bit about casting - mental - sculptures. This was mostly because he was commissioned by the Sforzas to create a bronze horse monument. Political upheaval prevented him from starting the medal version but he did create a clay version. In da Vinci fashion he obsessively planned how to go about creating the greatest medal monument every made - inventing new and revolutionary ways to cast it. It doesn't seem like he ever was able to implement any of these new skills and techniques but they serve as an insight into what he could have done given the chance. It's likely he was inspired by the process and in the short time he dedicated to it he learned many things that would influence his future inventions and ideas. 

This section is more about the technical aspects of "Metallurgy" and casting than sculpture.

  • Sculpture (non-metallic) will get it's own section. 
  • The Sforza horse will get it's own section in future updates.



Compared with the mass of manuscript treating of Painting, a very small number of passages bearing on the practice and methods of Sculpture are to be found scattered through the note books; these are here given at the beginning of this section (Nos. 706-709). There is less cause for surprise at finding that the equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza is only incidentally spoken of; for, although Leonardo must have worked at it for a long succession of years, it is not in the nature of the case that it could have given rise to much writing. We may therefore regard it as particularly fortunate that no fewer than thirteen notes in the master's handwriting can be brought together, which seem to throw light on the mysterious history of this famous work. Until now writers on Leonardo were acquainted only with the passages numbered 712, 719, 720, 722 and 723.
In arranging these notes on sculpture I have given the precedence to those which treat of the casting of the monument, not merely because they are the fullest, but more especially with a view to reconstructing the monument, an achievement which really almost lies within our reach by combining and comparing the whole of the materials now brought to light, alike in notes and in sketches.
A good deal of the first two passages, Nos. 710 and 711, which refer to this subject seems obscure and incomprehensible; still, they supplement each other and one contributes in no small degree to the comprehension of the other. A very interesting and instructive commentary on these passages may be found in the fourth chapter of Vasari's Introduzione della Scultura under the title "Come si fanno i modelli per fare di bronzo le figure grandi e picciole, e come le forme per buttarle; come si armino di ferri, e come si gettino di metallo," &c. Among the drawings of models of the moulds for casting we find only one which seems to represent the horse in the act of galloping—No. 713. All the other designs show the horse as pacing quietly and as these studies of the horse are accompanied by copious notes as to the method of casting, the question as to the position of the horse in the model finally selected, seems to be decided by preponderating evidence. "Il cavallo dello Sforza"—C. Boito remarks very appositely in the Saggio on page 26, "doveva sembrare fratello al cavallo del Colleoni. E si direbbe che questo fosse figlio del cavallo del Gattamelata, il quale pare figlio di uno dei quattro cavalli che stavano forse sull' Arco di Nerone in Roma" (now at Venice). The publication of the Saggio also contains the reproduction of a drawing in red chalk, representing a horse walking to the left and supported by a scaffolding, given here on Pl. LXXVI, No. 1. It must remain uncertain whether this represents the model as it stood during the preparations for casting it, or whether—as seems to me highly improbable—this sketch shows the model as it was exhibited in 1493 on the Piazza del Castello in Milan under a triumphal arch, on the occasion of the marriage of the Emperor Maximilian to Bianca Maria Sforza. The only important point here is to prove that strong evidence seems to show that, of the numerous studies for the equestrian statue, only those which represent the horse pacing agree with the schemes of the final plans.
The second group of preparatory sketches, representing the horse as galloping, must therefore be considered separately, a distinction which, in recapitulating the history of the origin of the monument seems justified by the note given under No. 720.
Galeazza Maria Sforza was assassinated in 1476 before his scheme for erecting a monument to his father Francesco Sforza could be carried into effect. In the following year Ludovico il Moro the young aspirant to the throne was exiled to Pisa, and only returned to Milan in 1479 when he was Lord (Governatore) of the State of Milan, in 1480 after the minister Cecco Simonetta had been murdered. It may have been soon after this that Ludovico il Moro announced a competition for an equestrian statue, and it is tolerably certain that Antonio del Pollajuolo took part in it, from this passage in Vasari's Life of this artist: "E si trovo, dopo la morte sua, il disegno e modello che a Lodovico Sforza egli aveva fatto per la statua a cavallo di Francesco Sforza, duca di Milano; il quale disegno e nel nostro Libro, in due modi: in uno egli ha sotto Verona; nell'altro, egli tutto armato, e sopra un basamento pieno di battaglie, fa saltare il cavallo addosso a un armato; ma la cagione perche non mettesse questi disegni in opera, non ho gia potuto sapere." One of Pollajuolo's drawings, as here described, has lately been discovered by Senatore Giovanni Morelli in the Munich Pinacothek. Here the profile of the horseman is a portrait of Francesco Duke of Milan, and under the horse, who is galloping to the left, we see a warrior thrown and lying on the ground; precisely the same idea as we find in some of Leonardo's designs for the monument, as on Pl. LXVI, LXVII, LXVIII, LXIX and LXXII No. 1; and, as it is impossible to explain this remarkable coincidence by supposing that either artist borrowed it from the other, we can only conclude that in the terms of the competition the subject proposed was the Duke on a horse in full gallop, with a fallen foe under its hoofs.
Leonardo may have been in the competition there and then, but the means for executing the monument do not seem to have been at once forthcoming. It was not perhaps until some years later that Leonardo in a letter to the Duke (No. 719) reminded him of the project for the monument. Then, after he had obeyed a summons to Milan, the plan seems to have been so far modified, perhaps in consequence of a remonstrance on the part of the artist, that a pacing horse was substituted for one galloping, and it may have been at the same time that the colossal dimensions of the statue were first decided on. The designs given on Pl. LXX, LXXI, LXXII, 2 and 3, LXXIII and LXXIV and on pp. 4 and 24, as well as three sketches on Pl. LXIX may be studied with reference to the project in its new form, though it is hardly possible to believe that in either of these we see the design as it was actually carried out. It is probable that in Milan Leonardo worked less on drawings, than in making small models of wax and clay as preparatory to his larger model. Among the drawings enumerated above, one in black chalk, Pl. LXXIII—the upper sketch on the right hand side, reminds us strongly of the antique statue of Marcus Aurelius. If, as it would seem, Leonardo had not until then visited Rome, he might easily have known this statue from drawings by his former master and friend Verrocchio, for Verrocchio had been in Rome for a long time between 1470 and 1480. In 1473 Pope Sixtus IV had this antique equestrian statue restored and placed on a new pedestal in front of the church of San Giovanni in Luterano. Leonardo, although he was painting independently as early as in 1472 is still spoken of as working in Verrocchio's studio in 1477. Two years later the Venetian senate decided on erecting an equestrian statue to Colleoni; and as Verrocchio, to whom the work was entrusted, did not at once move from Florence to Venice—where he died in 1488 before the casting was completed—but on the contrary remained in Florence for some years, perhaps even till 1485, Leonardo probably had the opportunity of seeing all his designs for the equestrian statue at Venice and the red chalk drawing on Pl. LXXIV may be a reminiscence of it.
The pen and ink drawing on Pl. LXXII, No. 3, reminds us of Donatello's statue of Gattamelata at Padua. However it does not appear that Leonardo was ever at Padua before 1499, but we may conclude that he took a special interest in this early bronze statue and the reports he could procure of it, form an incidental remark which is to be found in C. A. 145a; 432a, and which will be given in Vol. II under Ricordi or Memoranda. Among the studies—in the widest sense of the word—made in preparation statue we may include the Anatomy of the Horse which Lomazzo and Vas mention; the most important parts of this work still exist in the Queen's Li Windsor. It was beyond a doubt compiled by Leonardo when at Milan; only interesting records to be found among these designs are reproduced in Nos. 716a but it must be pointed out that out of 40 sheets of studies of the movements of the belonging to that treatise, a horse in full gallop occurs but once.
If we may trust the account given by Paulus Jovius—about l527— Leonardo's horse was represented as "vehementer incitatus et anhelatus". Jovius had probably seen the model exhibited at Milan; but, need we, in fact, infer from this description that the horse was galloping? Compare Vasari's description of the Gattamelata monument at Padua: "Egli [Donatello] vi ando ben volentieri, e fece il cavallo di bronzo, che e in sulla piazza di Sant Antonio, nel quale si dimostra lo sbuffamento ed il fremito del cavallo, ed il grande animo e la fierezza vivacissimamente espressa dall'arte nella figura che lo cavalca".
These descriptions, it seems to me, would only serve to mark the difference between the work of the middle ages and that of the renaissance.
We learn from a statement of Sabba da Castiglione that, when Milan was taken by the French in 1499, the model sustained some injury; and this informant, who, however is not invariably trustworthy, adds that Leonardo had devoted fully sixteen years to this work (la forma del cavallo, intorno a cui Leonardo avea sedici anni continui consumati). This often-quoted passage has given ground for an assumption, which has no other evidence to support it, that Leonardo had lived in Milan ever since 1483. But I believe it is nearer the truth to suppose that this author's statement alludes to the fact that about sixteen years must have past since the competition in which Leonardo had taken part.
I must in these remarks confine myself strictly to the task in hand and give no more of the history of the Sforza monument than is needed to explain the texts and drawings I have been able to reproduce. In the first place, with regard to the drawings, I may observe that they are all, with the following two exceptions, in the Queen's Library at Windsor Castle; the red chalk drawing on Pl. LXXVI No. 1 is in the MS. C. A. (see No. 7l2) and the fragmentary pen and ink drawing on page 4 is in the Ambrosian Library. The drawings from Windsor on Pl. LXVI have undergone a trifling reduction from the size of the originals.
There can no longer be the slightest doubt that the well-known engraving of several horsemen (Passavant, Le Peintre-Graveur, Vol. V, p. 181, No. 3) is only a copy after original drawings by Leonardo, executed by some unknown engraver; we have only to compare the engraving with the facsimiles of drawings on Pl. LXV, No. 2, Pl. LXVII, LXVIII and LXIX which, it is quite evident, have served as models for the engraver.
On Pl. LXV No. 1, in the larger sketch to the right hand, only the base is distinctly visible, the figure of the horseman is effaced. Leonardo evidently found it unsatisfactory and therefore rubbed it out.
The base of the monument—the pedestal for the equestrian statue—is repeatedly sketched on a magnificent plan. In the sketch just mentioned it has the character of a shrine or aedicula to contain a sarcophagus. Captives in chains are here represented on the entablature with their backs turned to that portion of the monument which more strictly constitutes the pedestal of the horse. The lower portion of the aedicula is surrounded by columns. In the pen and ink drawing Pl. LXVI—the lower drawing on the right hand side—the sarcophagus is shown between the columns, and above the entablature is a plinth on which the horse stands. But this arrangement perhaps seemed to Leonardo to lack solidity, and in the little sketch on the left hand, below, the sarcophagus is shown as lying under an arched canopy. In this the trophies and the captive warriors are detached from the angles. In the first of these two sketches the place for the trophies is merely indicated by a few strokes; in the third sketch on the left the base is altogether broader, buttresses and pinnacles having been added so as to form three niches. The black chalk drawing on Pl. LXVIII shows a base in which the angles are formed by niches with pilasters. In the little sketch to the extreme left on Pl. LXV, No. 1, the equestrian statue serves to crown a circular temple somewhat resembling Bramante's tempietto of San Pietro in Montario at Rome, while the sketch above to the right displays an arrangement faintly reminding us of the tomb of the Scaligers in Verona. The base is thus constructed of two platforms or slabs, the upper one considerably smaller than the lower one which is supported on flying buttresses with pinnacles.
On looking over the numerous studies in which the horse is not galloping but merely walking forward, we find only one drawing for the pedestal, and this, to accord with the altered character of the statue, is quieter and simpler in style (Pl. LXXIV). It rises almost vertically from the ground and is exactly as long as the pacing horse. The whole base is here arranged either as an independent baldaquin or else as a projecting canopy over a recess in which the figure of the deceased Duke is seen lying on his sarcophagus; in the latter case it was probably intended as a tomb inside a church. Here, too, it was intended to fill the angles with trophies or captive warriors. Probably only No. 724 in the text refers to the work for the base of the monument.
If we compare the last mentioned sketch with the description of a plan for an equestrian monument to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (No. 725) it seems by no means impossible that this drawing is a preparatory study for the very monument concerning which the manuscript gives us detailed information. We have no historical record regarding this sketch nor do the archives in the Trivulzio Palace give us any information. The simple monument to the great general in San Nazaro Maggiore in Milan consists merely of a sarcophagus placed in recess high on the wall of an octagonal chapel. The figure of the warrior is lying on the sarcophagus, on which his name is inscribed; a piece of sculpture which is certainly not Leonardo's work. Gian Giacomo Trivulzio died at Chartres in 1518, only five months before Leonardo, and it seems to me highly improbable that this should have been the date of this sketch; under these circumstances it would have been done under the auspices of Francis I, but the Italian general was certainly not in favour with the French monarch at the time. Gian Giacomo Trivulzio was a sworn foe to Ludovico il Moro, whom he strove for years to overthrow. On the 6th September 1499 he marched victorious into Milan at the head of a French army. In a short time, however, he was forced to quit Milan again when Ludovico il Moro bore down upon the city with a force of Swiss troops. On the 15th of April following, after defeating Lodovico at Novara, Trivulzio once more entered Milan as a Conqueror, but his hopes of becoming Governatore of the place were soon wrecked by intrigue. This victory and triumph, historians tell us, were signalised by acts of vengeance against the dethroned Sforza, and it might have been particularly flattering to him that the casting and construction of the Sforza monument were suspended for the time.
It must have been at this moment—as it seems to me—that he commissioned the artist to prepare designs for his own monument, which he probably intended should find a place in the Cathedral or in some other church. He, the husband of Margherita di Nicolino Colleoni, would have thought that he had a claim to the same distinction and public homage as his less illustrious connection had received at the hands of the Venetian republic. It was at this very time that Trivulzio had a medal struck with a bust portrait of himself and the following remarkable inscription on the reverse:_ DEO FAVENTE—1499—DICTVS—10—IA—EXPVLIT—LVDOVICV—SF— (Sfortiam) DVC— (ducem) MLI (Mediolani)—NOIE (nomine)—REGIS—FRANCORVM—EODEM—ANN —(anno) RED'T (redit)—LVS (Ludovicus)—SVPERATVS ET CAPTVS—EST—AB—EO. _In the Library of the Palazzo Trivulzio there is a MS. of Callimachus Siculus written at the end of the XVth or beginning of the XVIth century. At the beginning of this MS. there is an exquisite illuminated miniature of an equestrian statue with the name of the general on the base; it is however very doubtful whether this has any connection with Leonardo's design.
Nos. 731-740, which treat of casting bronze, have probably a very indirect bearing on the arrangements made for casting the equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza. Some portions evidently relate to the casting of cannon. Still, in our researches about Leonardo's work on the monument, we may refer to them as giving us some clue to the process of bronze casting at that period.