Leonardo da Vinci and Florence. Selected pages from the Codex Atlanticus

The relationship between the great genius and Florence as revealed by the sheets of the Codex Atlanticus

From 29 March 2019 to 30 June 2019

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From 29 March to 30 June Palazzo Vecchio in Florence plays host to the exhibition ‘Leonardo da Vinci and Florence. Selected pages from the Codex Atlanticus'. In the year of the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the death of the great Tuscan genius, many events are planned throughout the region to remember the greatness of the multifaceted character: he was in fact a painter, architect and scientist. What’s more, the Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition at Palazzo Vecchio in Firenze, delves into the life of the eclectic inventor by focusing on the attachment he felt towards the city of Florence throughout his life. There are indeed many references to the Tuscan capital contained in the codex folios constituting a sort of Ariadne’s thread of the exhibition at Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. It goes without saying that the prestigious and evocative venue of this event represents an additional element of interest. Included in the Palazzo Vecchio ticket, in fact, in addition to the Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus exhibition, is also the possibility to visit the museum.

 

LEONARDO DA VINCI CODEX ATLANTICUS

The Codex Atlanticus has been preserved in the historic Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan since 1637. It is composed of 1119 writings and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci even though it wasn’t Leonardo who assembled the various sheets. At the end of the 16th century the sculptor Pompeo Leoni from Milan managed to recover a substantial number of writings and drawings by the heirs of Giovanni Francesco Melzi, a pupil to whom Leonardo had entrusted all his writings. Leoni thus created two large collections, separating the drawings of a technical scope from those of an artistic subject; the former became precisely the Codex Atlanticus, while the latter is today the famous Windsor Collection. The word "atlanticus" derives from the large size of the sheets, the same used to make geographic atlases. The Codice Atlantico di Leonardo covers a period spanning from 1478, when Leonardo still worked in Tuscany, until 1519, when he died in France. The sheets deal with the most diverse topics: from mechanics to hydraulics, mathematics to architecture, including bizarre inventions of war machines, parachutes and flying machines. It even contains a sort of 'curriculum vitae' by the great genius who listed his skills as an artist, engineer and architect and which he had sent to the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro.

 

THE EXHIBITION: FLORENCE IN THE CODEX ATLANTICUS

Cristina Acidini, the curator of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in Florence, did not set out to display the sheets either in chronological order nor did she decide to make a more aesthetic choice by choosing the larger drawings and, consequently, easier to be understood by the public visiting the exhibition. The main idea of the Altantic Code exhibition at Palazzo Vecchio starts from Florence itself, and for this reason a choice has been made to include the sheets containing references to Leonardo’s place of origin, which the artist, even when he was far away from it, never forgot, rather he always kept it in his heart. The theme of the exhibition is not so much Leonardo Da Vinci in Florence, rather the relationship between Leonardo and Florence. This is how the 12 folios of the exhibition were chosen: these are writings dating between 1470s and 1519s, the year of Leonardo's death. The topics covered are nonetheless many, but for each sheet an explanation is provided as to why it was selected. Do you want to know which one is the first? It is the one that contains the famous phrase that Leonardo addressed to Botticelli: ‘Sandro, you don’t say why such second-level things appear shorter than [those in] the third [level]’ It was a criticism of the technique of perspective of the artist whom Leonardo considered his rival when they both worked in Verrocchio's workshop! Just picture this: Leonardo and Botticelli making fun of each other! The exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci in Florence is ideally closed by a painting, not by Leonardo, but by Gian Giacomo Caprotti, known as ‘Il Salai’: ‘Busto del Redentore’. The author of the work is indeed unquestionably linked to Leonardo being one of his closest assistants. The Leonardo Da Vinci Atlantic Code exhibition at Palazzo Vecchio is therefore a unique opportunity to appreciate Leonardo's genius under a different light, the light of his Tuscan roots and his almost visceral attachment to Florence.

 

PALAZZO VECCHIO: AN EXCEPTIONAL LOCATION FOR AN UNMISSABLE EXHIBITION

With the Palazzo Vecchio tickets you can visit the exhibition but also the museum with its permanent collections and with so many rooms to be discovered. The building, also known as Palazzo della Signoria, is the symbol of the power of the city of Florence. It was built between the 13th and 14th centuries according to the project by Arnolfo di Cambio and visiting it today makes for a real journey through time and the various eras during which it was the protagonist of the history of Florence. A visit to Palazzo Vecchio should start from the marvellous Hall of the Five Hundred, the most majestic of all rooms: 54 m long and 23 wide! Here is where the famous Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari and Michelangelo’s Battle of Cascina are said to be hidden under the plaster. Worth a visit are also the secret passages, once used exclusively by the Medici family to access the Studio of Francesco I.

 

In short, the Leonardo Codex Atlanticus exhibition at Palazzo Vecchio is a great way to discover the past of Florence, that of Leonardo da Vinci and the one revealed by the rooms of Palazzo Vecchio. Save June 30 in your diary, but before this date, reserve a few days to spend in Tuscany. You can also book our 'Dan Brown Inferno tour ' which includes entry to Palazzo Vecchio, the ticket and a very interesting itinerary to discover the places described in the famous best seller and experience first-hand Robert Langdon's adventure in Florence. Florence, Leonardo, Palazzo Vecchio, Dan Brown... a cracking combination, to say the least! What else could you ask for?

By Insidecom Editorial Staff