Ashburnham Codex

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Design for a church in the Ashburnham Codex

The Codex Ashburnham is a collection of sheets with notes, sketches and drawings by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519).


The name Codex Ashburnham was given to the manuscript by the Earl of Ashburnham , who acquired it in the mid-19th century.

Content and scope

The work consists of two volumes ( Codex Ashburnham I and II ) with a total of 44 sheets. Ashburnham I consists of 34 sheets of approximately 15 cm × 22 cm, Ashburnham II of ten sheets of 16 cm × 23 cm. The manuscripts are dated from around 1487 to 1490 and contain contributions to architecture , art and painting . Ashburnham II is exclusively devoted to painting.


Most of Leonardo da Vinci's manuscripts and drawings were kept in his villa near Vaprio d'Adda by his pupil and heir Francesco Melzi (around 1491/92 - around 1570) after his death . His son Orazio Melzi inherited the documents in 1570. Around 1590, the sculptor and art collector Pompeo Leoni (1531-1608) was able to acquire a large part of Orazio Melzi's records and finally sold them to Count Galeazzo Arconati. In 1637, the extensive collection was donated to the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan.

In 1795 twelve of Leonardo's manuscripts, designated Manuscripts A to M , and the so-called Codex Atlanticus , were transferred to the library of the Institut de France in Paris as Napoleon's spoils of war . Only the Codex Atlanticus returned to the Ambrosiana in 1815 after the fall of Napoleon.

In the 1840s, the Italian mathematician and book thief Guglielmo Libri (1803-1869) cut out pages 81 to 114 of Manuscript A and pages 91 to 100 of Manuscript B , stole them and sold them to the British collector and librarian Bertram Ashburnham, 4 Earl of Ashburnham (1797-1878). Through his son they were returned to the Institut de France in 1890. There they are still bound today separately from the original manuscripts and form the Codex Ashburnham I and II .


Web links

Commons : Codex Ashburnham  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Nicholl, pp. 271-272
  2. a b c Pedretti, p. 257
  3. ^ Carlo Pedretti, Catherine Frost: Leonardo, Art and Science . Giunti Editore, Florence / Milan 2000, p. 106