FLORENCE, ITALY – Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester is set to return to Italy for the first time in over 20 years.
The codex will be loaned by its owner Bill Gates to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The exhibit is scheduled from October 2018 until January 2019 in the run-up to 2019’s 500th anniversary of the death of the Tuscan genius.
The Codex Leicester (also briefly known as Codex Hammer) is a collection of famous scientific writings by Leonardo da Vinci. The Codex is named after Thomas Coke, later created Earl of Leicester, who purchased it in 1719.
Of Leonardo’s 30 scientific journals, the Codex may be the most famous of all. The manuscript currently holds the record for the second highest sale price of any book, as it was sold to Bill Gates at Christie’s auction house on 11 November 1994 in New York for US$30,802,500.
The manuscript does not take the form of a single linear script, but is rather a mixture of Leonardo’s observations and theories on astronomy; the properties of water, rocks, and fossils; air, and celestial light. The topics addressed include an explanation of why fossils can be found on mountains, the movement of water and the luminosity of the moon.
The Codex consists of 18 sheets of paper, each folded in half and written on both sides, forming the complete 72-page document. At one time the sheets were bound together, but they are now displayed separately. It was handwritten in Italian by Leonardo, using his characteristic mirror writing, and supported by copious drawings and diagrams.
The last time the Codex was shown in Italy was in 1995, at Palazzo Querini Dubois a Venice. Its last appearance in Florence was in 1982, when it was the focus of a monographic show that attracted huge crowds.