January 2015 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Codex Leicester Goes on Exhibit

Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester made its first stop in a yearlong traveling exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona last week, loaned by Bill Gates who paid $30 million for the 500-year-old manuscript at Christie's in 1994. Composed of 18 double-sided sheets of paper, each folded in half for a total of 72 pages, and written in da Vinci's characteristic "mirror writing," the notebook contains the inquisitive artist's scientific writings--on water, astronomy, light, fossils, and mechanics. Sketches and drawings accompany the text throughout.

Codex_Leicester(1).jpgThe Phoenix Art Museum plans to surround the Codex with artists who share three of da Vinci's creative traits: curiosity, direct observation, and thinking on paper. According to the museum, "This exhibition of Leonardo's Codex Leicester will be groundbreaking in its approach of bringing Leonardo into a broad artistic context that explores his continuing influence on artists into our own time."

Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester and the Power of Observation will be on view in Phoenix through April 12, after which it will travel to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (June 21-August 30) and then to the North Carolina Museum of Art (Oct. 31-January 17, 2016).

Image: Leonardo da Vinci, Codex Leicester (Sheet 1A, folio 1r), 1507-10, ink on paper, 11 2??3 x 8 1??2 in., Courtesy of Bill Gates, © 1994 bgC3.