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- Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci - 80/159 -

mangers may be opened as boxes are uncovered by raising the lids. [Footnote: See Pl. LXXVIII, No.1.]

Decorations for feasts.



The way in which the poles ought to be placed for tying bunches of juniper on to them. These poles must lie close to the framework of the vaulting and tie the bunches on with osier withes, so as to clip them even afterwards with shears.

Let the distance from one circle to another be half a braccia; and the juniper [sprigs] must lie top downwards, beginning from below.

Round this column tie four poles to which willows about as thick as a finger must be nailed and then begin from the bottom and work upwards with bunches of juniper sprigs, the tops downwards, that is upside down. [Footnote: See Pl. CII, No. 3. The words here given as the title line, lines 1--4, are the last in the original MS.--Lines 5--16 are written under fig. 4.]


The water should be allowed to fall from the whole circle _a b_. [Footnote: Other drawings of fountains are given on Pl. CI (W. XX); the original is a pen and ink drawing on blue paper; on Pl. CIII (MS. B.) and Pl. LXXXII.]

_VI. Studies of architectural details._

_Several of Leonardo's drawings of architectural details prove that, like other great masters of that period, he had devoted his attention to the study of the proportion of such details. As every organic being in nature has its law of construction and growth, these masters endeavoured, each in his way, to discover and prove a law of proportion in architecture. The following notes in Leonardo's manuscripts refer to this subject._

_MS. S. K. M. Ill, 47b (see Fig. 1). A diagram, indicating the rules as given by Vitruvius and by Leon Battista Alberti for the proportions of the Attic base of a column._

_MS. S. K. M. Ill 55a (see Fig. 2). Diagram showing the same rules._


B toro superiore . . . . . toro superiore 2B nestroli . . . . . . astragali quadre 3B orbiculo . . . . . . . . troclea 4B nestroli . . . . . . astragali quadre 5B toro iferiore . . . . . . toro iferiore 6B latastro . . . . . . . . plintho

[Footnote: No explanation can be offered of the meaning of the letter B, which precedes each name. It may be meant for _basa_ (base). Perhaps it refers to some author on architecture or an architect (Bramante?) who employed the designations, thus marked for the mouldings. 3. _troclea._ Philander: _Trochlea sive trochalia aut rechanum._ 6. _Laterculus_ or _latastrum_ is the Latin name for _Plinthus_ (pi lambda Xiv) but Vitruvius adopted this Greek name and "latastro" seems to have been little in use. It is to be found besides the text given above, as far as I am aware, only two drawings of the Uffizi Collection, where in one instance, it indicates the _abacus_ of a Doric capital.]



The plinth must be as broad as the thickness of the wall against which the plinth is built. [Footnote: See Pl. CX No. 3. The hasty sketch on the right hand side illustrates the unsatisfactory effect produced when the plinth is narrower than the wall.]


The ancient architects ...... beginning with the Egyptians (?) who, as Diodorus Siculus writes, were the first to build and construct large cities and castles, public and private buildings of fine form, large and well proportioned .....

The column, which has its thickness at the third part .... The one which would be thinnest in the middle, would break ...; the one which is of equal thickness and of equal strength, is better for the edifice. The second best as to the usefulness will be the one whose greatest thickness is where it joins with the base.

[Footnote: See Pl. CIII, No. 3, where the sketches belonging to lines 10--16 are reproduced, but reversed. The sketch of columns, here reproduced by a wood cut, stands in the original close to lines 5--8.]

The capital must be formed in this way. Divide its thickness at the top into 8; at the foot make it 5/7, and let it be 5/7 high and you will have a square; afterwards divide the height into 8 parts as you did for the column, and then take 1/8 for the echinus and another eighth for the thickness of the abacus on the top of the capital. The horns of the abacus of the capital have to project beyond the greatest width of the bell 2/7, i. e. sevenths of the top of the bell, so 1/7 falls to the projection of each horn. The truncated part of the horns must be as broad as it is high. I leave the rest, that is the ornaments, to the taste of the sculptors. But to return to the columns and in order to prove the reason of their strength or weakness according to their shape, I say that when the lines starting from the summit of the column and ending at its base and their direction and length ..., their distance apart or width may be equal; I say that this column ...


The cylinder of a body columnar in shape and its two opposite ends are two circles enclosed between parallel lines, and through the centre of the cylinder is a straight line, ending at the centre of these circles, and called by the ancients the axis.

[Footnote: Leonardo wrote these lines on the margin of a page of the Trattato di Francesco di Giorgio, where there are several drawings of columns, as well as a head drawn in profile inside an outline sketch of a capital.]


_a b_ is 1/3 of _n m_; _m o_ is 1/6 of _r o_. The ovolo projects 1/6 of _r o_; _s_ 7 1/5 of _r o_, _a b_ is divided into 9 1/2; the abacus is 3/9 the ovolo 4/9, the bead-moulding and the fillet 2/9 and 1/2.

[Footnote: See Pl. LXXXV, No. 16. In the original the drawing and writing are both in red chalk.]

_Pl. LXXXV No. 6 (MS. Ash. II 6b) contains a small sketch of a capital with the following note, written in three lines:_ I chorni del capitelo deono essere la quarta parte d'uno quadro _(The horns of a capital must measure the fourth part of a square)._

_MS. S. K. M. III 72b contains two sketches of ornamentations of windows._

_In MS. C. A. 308a; 938a (see Pl. LXXXII No. 1) there are several sketches of columns. One of the two columns on the right is similar to those employed by Bramante at the Canonica di S. Ambrogio. The same columns appear in the sketch underneath the plan of a castle. There they appear coupled, and in two stories one above the other. The archivolls which seem to spring out of the columns, are shaped like twisted cords, meant perhaps to be twisted branches. The walls between the columns seem to be formed out of blocks of wood, the pedestals are ornamented with a reticulated pattern. From all this we may suppose that Leonardo here had in mind either some festive decoration, or perhaps a pavilion for some hunting place or park. The sketch of columns marked "35" gives an example of columns shaped like candelabra, a form often employed at that time, particularly in Milan, and the surrounding districts for instance in the Cortile di Casa Castiglione now Silvestre, in the cathedral of Como, at Porta della Rana &c._



An architrave of several pieces is stronger than that of one single piece, if those pieces are placed with their length in the direction of the centre of the world. This is proved because stones have their grain or fibre generated in the contrary direction i. e. in the direction of the opposite horizons of the hemisphere, and this is contrary to fibres of the plants which have ...

[Footnote: The text is incomplete in the original.]

_The Proportions of the stories of a building are indicated by a sketch in MS. S. K. M. II2 11b (see Pl. LXXXV No. 15). The measures are written on the left side, as follows: br 1 1/2--6 3/4--br 1/12--2 br--9 e 1/2--1 1/2--br 5--o 9--o 3 [br=braccia; o=oncie].

Pl. LXXXV No. 13 (MS. B. 62a) and Pl. XCIII No. 1. (MS. B. 15a) give a few examples of arches supported on piers._


Theoretical writings on Architecture.

Leonardo's original writings on the theory of Architecture have come down to us only in a fragmentary state; still, there seems to be no doubt that he himself did not complete them. It would seem that Leonardo entertained the idea of writing a large and connected book on Architecture; and it is quite evident that the materials we possess, which can be proved to have been written at different periods, were noted down with a more or less definite aim and purpose. They might all be collected under the one title: "Studies on the Strength of Materials". Among them the investigations on the subject of fissures in walls are particularly thorough, and very fully reported; these passages are also especially interesting, because Leonardo was certainly the first writer on architecture who ever treated the subject at all. Here, as in all other cases Leonardo carefully avoids all abstract argument. His data are not derived from the principles of algebra, but from the laws of mechanics, and his method throughout is strictly experimental.

Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci - 80/159

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