Codex Arundel

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Codex Arundel, with a draft of a diving mask

The Codex Arundel ( Signature of the British Library : Arundel 263 is a bound collection of pages with notes, sketches and drawings) Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), mainly from the years between 1480 and 1518. The Code contains a number of treatises on various topics including mechanics and geometry .


The Codex got its name from the Earl of Arundel , who acquired it in Spain in the early 17th century.


The manuscript contains 283 sheets, mostly about 22 cm × 16 cm in size; only a few sheets are blank. The Codex is a collection of Leonardo's manuscripts from a period of almost 40 years, from 1480 to 1518, which encompasses almost his entire artistic life.

The code contains brief treatises, notes, and drawings on a wide variety of subjects including mechanics, geometry, and bird flight. Leonardo's text shows that he collected the pages with the intention of publishing them if necessary. Normally, Leonardo began a new page for each topic and sub-topic, so that the consecutive series of sheets formed a complete treatise on the respective topic and its individual aspects.

This arrangement was later lost through bookbinding work, as the sheets were put back together in a different order. The division of the topics into several sections makes the arrangement of the pages seem random today.


Little is known about the early history of the Codex. After Leonardo da Vinci's death in 1519, all of his notes passed into the hands of his pupil Francesco Melzi (around 1491/92 - around 1570). His heirs dissolved Leonardo's estate. The manuscripts were sold, even as individual sheets, and the valuable material was scattered.

The manuscript was acquired in the 1830s by Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel (1585-1646), art collector and politician. It was presented to the Royal Society in 1667 by Henry Howard, 6th Duke of Norfolk (1628–1684). The manuscript was first cataloged in 1681, as a scientific and mathematical manuscript.

The British Museum acquired the codex from the Royal Society in 1831, along with over five hundred other manuscripts in the Arundel collection. It was cataloged by the British Museum in 1834 and is now in the British Library's holdings under the call number Arundel 263 .

In 2007 the manuscript was digitized as part of the British Library's Turning the Pages project and made available as a digitized online version.


  • Emma Dickens (Ed.): Das da Vinci Universum - The Notebooks of Leonardo , Ullstein Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-548-36874-3 , from 2007: ISBN 978-3-548-36874-0
  • Philip Howard: The British Library: A Treasure House of Knowledge , Scala Publishers, London 2008, English
  • Theodor Lücke (Ed.): Leonardo da Vinci: Diaries and records , 3rd edition, Paul List Verlag, Leipzig 1953
  • Charles Nicholl : Leonardo da Vinci - The biography . S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 978-3-10-052405-8
  • Martin Kemp : Leonardo , C. H. Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 978-3-406-53462-1
  • Carlo Pedretti : Leonardo da Vinci on Painting . University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles 1964 ( digitized ).
  • Carlo Pedretti (Ed.): Leonardo da Vinci, Il Codice Arundel 263 nella British Library , Giunti, Florence 1998, Italian
  • H. Anna Suh (Ed.): Leonardo da Vinci: Sketchbooks , Parragon Books, Bath 2007, ISBN 1-4054-6499-2

Web links

Commons : Codex Arundel  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Katrina Dean: Keeping books of nature: An introduction to Leonardo da Vinci's Codices Arundel and Leicester , British Library, PDF accessed on November 6, 2010
  2. ^ Carlo Pedretti: Introduction to Leonardo's Codex Arundel , British Library, PDF accessed on November 6, 2010
  3. Librorum Manuscriptorum Bibliotechae Norfociane in Collego Greshamensi . In: Catalogi Manuscriptorum Angliae , 1697, Volume 2, 74-84, No. 254.
  4. "Tunning the Pages" ( Memento of the original from July 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , British Library  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /