Leonardo da Vinci    Society Newsletter

editor:  Francis Ames-Lewis


Issue 12,  May 1998

Recent and forthcoming events


Art and Science in the Italian Renaissance: Music

The eighth one-day symposium in the series organised by the Society in association with the Society for Renaissance Studies, was held at the Warburg Institute, London WC1, on Friday 8 May 1998. Peter Wright (University of Nottingham) writes: Music was the subject of this year’s symposium, a stimulating occasion which provided a useful meeting-ground for historians of several disciplines. Judith Field opened with a paper on the mathematical sciences in the fifteenth century which, if only tangential to music, was fascinating for its observations on music’s quadrivial siblings and served to focus minds on the subject of proportion, a central concern of the next two papers. Reinhard Strohm presented an analysis of the numerical structure of Johannes Ockeghem’s mass on Gilles Binchois’s song De plus en plus, suggesting that this structure may have been influenced by extra-musical considerations, including the relationship between the composers concerned. And Fabrice Fitch argued that beneath the apparent technical haphazardness of a motet by Ockeghem’s slightly younger contemporary, Johannes Obrecht, lies a carefully contrived and perhaps symbolically-inspired numerical structure. While there was much that was very persuasive in both papers, the sceptical nature of some of the ensuing questions served as a salutory reminder of the extreme caution needed in dealing with numerological matters. Less technical, though no less engaging, was Donald Cullington’s contrasting of three types of musical humanist. If Tinctoris rather hogged the limelight during discussion, it was  nevertheless  illuminating  to  learn  of  the spirited defences of music by his -- to musicologists at least -- relatively obscure contemporaries Valgulio and Carlerius. Finally Bonnie Blackburn offered some intriguing insights into the relationship between music theory and the arts in Leonardo’s time, and in particular on Leonardo’s own understanding of the nature of polyphony, thus bringing to a close a day of fruitful interdisciplinary exchange.


Poetry on art - artists’ poetry 1400-1750


A symposium, jointly sponsored by the Society and the Society for Renaissance Studies,  on this theme will be held at the Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB, on Friday 12 June 1998. The programme will be:


10.00 Registration


10.15 Francois Quiviger, ‘The poetry of practice in the age of disegno’


10.45 Giovanna Perini, ‘Poems by Bolognese painters, from the Renaissance to the late Baroque’


11.15 Discussion


11.45 Mary Rogers, ‘From courtesan to connoisseur: Veronica Franco on the Villa della Torre at Fumane’


12.15 Charles Ford, ‘Prose and poetry in artists’ biographies’


12.45 Discussion


13.00 Lunch (not provided)


14.15 Paul Holberton, ‘Per snodare la lingua della muta poesia’


14.45 Henry Keazor, ‘“Thoughts, pressed into the metres of versification”? - Pierre Le Moyne’s Poussin sonnet of 1643 and its context’


15.15 Discussion


16.00 Thomas Frangenberg, ‘The paragone of nature and art and other issues in poetry on Baroque ceiling painting’


16.30 Malcolm Baker, ‘Lapidary verses and sculptural tropes. Alexander Pope, John Whatley, and the uses of sculpture’


17.00 Discussion



Registration fees: full £5; students £1

For further information, please write to

Dr Thomas Frangenberg

Department of the History of Art

University of Leicester

University Road

Leicester LE1 7RH

phone 0116 2522866

fax      0116 2525128

e-mail tf6@le.ac.uk




The Quick and the Dead: Artists and Anatomy


Six pen and ink anatomical drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, all from the Royal Library at Windsor, were included in a National Touring Exhibition recently organised by the Hayward Gallery for the Arts Council. The exhibition, curated by Deanna Petherbridge, has now completed its tour at Leeds City Art Gallery, its third venue (28 March to 24 May), having been mounted also at the Royal College of Art, London (28 October - 24 November 1997) and at the Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry (10 January - 14 March 1998). Four of the exhibited drawings are reproduced in the catalogue, to accompany Deanna Petherbridge’s essays on ‘Art and Anatomy: the Meeting of Text and Image’, of ‘Leonardo da Vinci and the Grammar of Anatomical Drawing’, and of ‘Homologies of Male and Female Sexual Organs’ which also refers mainly to Leonardo.


Leonardesque News



1997 Lettura Vinciana


The thirty-eighth Lettura Vinciana was given at the Biblioteca Leonardiana at Vinci on Saturday 18 April 1998 by Professor Kathleen Weil-Garris Brandt. The title of her lecture was ‘Leonardo and sculpture’.



Professore Augusto Marinoni


Augusto Marinoni, one of the great Leonardo da Vinci scholars of his generation, died on 31 December 1997. Pietro Marani, his successor as President of the Ente Raccolta Vinciana, and Director of the Brera in Milan, writes: Augusto Marinoni died, aged 86, on 31 December 1997 at his house in Legnano. A celebrated student of Leonardo da Vinci manuscripts, he spent his life deciphering and interpreting almost all the Leonardo codices, from the Codex Trivulziana to the Codex Atlanticus (of which he edited the new edition in twenty-four volumes, published by the Commissione Nazionale Vinciana in Rome) to the manuscripts of the Institut de France (twelve volumes). President of the Ente Raccolta Vinciana from 1982 to 1996, he was nominated as its Honorary President in 1997. He continued his labours on Leonardo to the very end, working on an analytical index (which is still in manuscript) for the Codex Atlanticus. As Professor of Romance Philology at the Universitą Cattolica del Santo Cuore in Milan, and concerned with the study of language and dialects, he rapidly established collaborative ventures with the most prestigious international learned bodies concerned with Leonardo studies. He contributed to the 1954 volume entitled Leonardo. Saggi e ricerce alongside E. H. Gombrich, A. E. Popham, A. M. Brizio, C. Maltese, M. Hours and others, and to The Unknown Leonardo, published in various languages in 1974. This was produced following the discovery of the Madrid Codices, and Prof. Marinoni  collaborated in editing it after the death of Ladislao Reti. Equally assiduous was his collaborative work on the Ente’s journal, Raccolta Vinciana, in which he published numerous scholarly articles centred around the study of Leonardo’s mathematical investigations. Curator of several important exhibitions on Leonardo (Leonardo all’Ambrosiana, 1982, for example, and Laboratorio su Leonardo, sponsored by IBM in 1983), his last work was the edition of Luca Pacioli’s De viribus quantitatis published by the Ente Raccolta Vinciana of Milan in 1997. A lengthy tribute to the scholar and the man, always generous and never jealous of his discoveries, appeared in Il Giornale dell’arte in February 1998.



Achademia Leonardi Vinci: the ALV Journal


After making major contributions to Leonardo da Vinci studies during the last ten years, the ALV Journal is to cease publication. In his final editorial, introducing volume X, 1997, Professor Carlo Pedretti writes: ‘With this volume the ALV Journal concludes its mission as the yearbook of the Armand Hammer Center for Leonardo Studies at UCLA, a Center that has never had the opportunity of becoming what [it] has always given the impression of having become -- a powerful tool in the service of scholarship. With the sale of a symbol -- the Codex Hammer -- ends an era that has had but a short beginning... And so this last volume, like the preceding one, is on the theme of Leonardo’s Book on Painting, the work that represents Leonardo’s lifelong preoccupation with every aspect of his profession -- painting as a universal language... The ALV Journal has chosen to conclude its mission with a tribute to Leonardo’s Book on Painting and to its compiler [Francesco Melzi] as well, but this does not mean that its objective has been attained and that all there was to be done is done. Though it is by now all too clear that nothing with the study of Leonardo’s legacy can be final, everything must have an end. Leonardo himself once referred to the destruction of antique statuary to conclude: ‘Everything has its own death’ -- ogni cosa ha la sua morte. The humanist Bernardino Corio had his own monumental Storia di Milano of 1503 introduced by a woodcut in which he appears in the performance of his intellectual endeavors as inspired by the motto E BELLO DOPPO IL MORIRE VIVERE ANCHORA -- It is beautiful to live on after death. True, everything has to have its own death, including the ALV Journal. But Leonardo lives on. Farewell.’


The principal articles in the tenth and final volume of Achademia Leonardi Vinci  are:


Claire Farago, ‘The Defense of Art and the      Art of Defense’

Graziella Federici Vescovini, ‘Premesse a          Leonardo: il vocabulario scientifico del             De pictura dell’Alberti’

Fabio Frosini, ‘Pittura come filosofia: note         su “spirito” e “spirituale” in Leonardo’

Domenico Laurenza, ‘Il pensiero medico            di Leonardo intorno al 1490:   Hieronymo Manfredi e altre probabili              fonti’

Carlo Pedretti, ‘Leonardo a Urbino e il                   Libro di Pittura

Silvia Fabrizio-Costa, ‘“Elena quando si             specchiava...”’

Paola Venturelli, ‘“Una bella inventione”:        Leonardo e la moda a Milano’

Francis Ames-Lewis, ‘Leonardo’s         Botanical Drawings’

Michael Kwakkelstein, ‘Willem Goeree and Leonardo’s Theories on Painting’

Georg Simmel, ‘Leonardo da Vinci’s                         Last Supper (1905)’

Pietro Marani, ‘A Newly-discovered Version of Bramantino’s Pietą and its             Relation to Leonardo’s Last Supper

Roberta Panzanelli Clignet, ‘“Plasticem               ante alia penicillo praeponebat”’.



Raccolta Vinciana, 27 (1997)


The principal articles published in the recent issue of Raccolta Vinciana, vol. 27, are:


Carlo Pedretti, ‘Il disegno di Oporto’

Romano Nanni, ‘Astrologia e prospettiva.          Per lo studio dell’immagine della              scienze nel Paragone delle arti di               Leonardo’

Rolf Dragstra, ‘The Vitruvian proportions          for Leonardo’s construction of the          Last Supper

Janis Bell, ‘Acuity: a third type of           perspective’

Pietro Marani, ‘Dalla natura al simbolo:                osservazione della natura,            imitazione dell’antico e       visualizzazione del moto nell’opera      di Leonardo’

Edoardo Villata, ‘Il San Giovanni Battista         di Leonardo: un’ipotesi per la             cronologia e la committenza’

Domenico Laurenza, ‘Corpus mobile.                      Tracce di patagnomica in Leonardo’

Vincenzo Gheroldi, ‘Materiali leonardeschi.   Note per la decifrazione di due ricette             per pittura’

Maria Theresa Fiorio, ‘Leonardo,            Boltraffio e Jean Perréal’

Ann Pizzzorusso, ‘Leonardo’s geology: a           key to identifying the works of             Boltraffio, d’Oggiono and other artists’

Laura Traversi, ‘Il tema dei “due fanciulli          che si baciano e abbracciano” tra             “leonardismo italiano” e “leonardismo      fiammingo”’

Jacopo Stoppa, La gipsoteca Vallardi e la           produzione in serie amadeesca’.



The Leonardo da Vinci Centre in Ukraine


We have been sent information about the Leonardo da Vinci Centre instituted in 1992 in Odessa, Ukraine, its activities and its problems, by the Director, Dr Anna Ryapolova. The principal direction of the Centre’s activity is the study of the artistic legacy of Leonardo da Vinci and his contemporaries. The Centre’s essential objective is to conduct research into all aspects of Leonardo and his art, and into the ‘spiritual and scientific culture of the Italian Renaissance’ in general. An International Scientific Conference, the first in the history of Ukraine, was held from 21 to 25 October 1997; and the Leonardo da Vinci Centre proposes to establish a library at Odessa to support further research. Unfortunately, financial difficulties prevent the Centre from bringing the results of their researches to the attention of the international scholarly community.

            A concert held in the Philharmonic Hall, Odessa, on 13 April 1997 was dedicated to the 545th anniversary of Leonardo’s birth. Given by the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Earl Hobart, the programme included a performance of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony.



A further LDVHI update


A series of meetings between the Trustees of LDVHI (Leonardo da Vinci’s Horse Inc.) and Milanese government and cultural officials has resulted in a letter from the Mayor of Milan, Dr Gabriele Albertini, welcoming the anticipated gift of the 24' bronze Horse. The final version of the Horse is currently approaching completion at the Tallix Art Foundry in Beacon, NY. In late Spring 1999 the ten-ton sculpture will be shipped in seven pieces for assembly in Milan: on arrival, these pieces will be welded together around an armature of hollow stainless steel rods. The Horse will be unveiled on 10 September 1999, five hundred years after the destruction of Leonardo’s own clay model for the Sforza monument. The pedestal will be designed and built in Italy.

            Funding is now required for the completion of the casting, transportation, construction of the pedestal, and an endowment for maintenance. Gifts may be sent to LdVH at PO Box 396, Fogelsville, PA 18051, USA. For further information, call 610-395-4060, fax 610-395-3220 or email to <info@leonardoshorse.org>, or consult the LdVH web site at www.leonardoshorse.org. On the same day that the Horse is formally installed, scrolls of appreciation will be mailed to donors worldwide, and small gold-leaf bronze replicas of the Horse will be available for sponsors.



The Leonardo da Vinci Society


Proposals for future events - conferences, symposia, lectures, or other activities that the Society might sponsor or undertake - are always welcomed by the Committee. Please write to any of the officers listed below if you have any suggestions to offer. The Committee is also anxious to recruit new blood to its membership, so if any members would be interested in serving, please will they let us know.

            President: Dr J.V. Field, Department of History of Art, Birkbeck College, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD; fax 0171.631.6107; email: <jv.field@ hist-art bbk.ac.uk>

            Vice-President: Dr. Francis Ames-Lewis, Department of History of Art, Birkbeck College, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD. Tel.: 0171.631.6108; fax 0171.631.6107; email: <f.ames-lewis@hart.bbk.ac.uk>

            Secretary/Treasurer: Dr Thomas Frangenberg, Department of the History of Art, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1.7RH, UK; fax 0116.252.5128; email: <tf6@le.ac.uk> 

            Please send items for publication to the editor of the Leonardo da Vinci Society Newsletter, Francis Ames-Lewis, Department of History of Art, Birkbeck College, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD; fax 0171.631.6107; email: f.ames-lewis@hart.bbk.ac.uk

            The Leonardo da Vinci Society proposes to undertake a new drive to increase membership. Many recent members have not renewed their subscriptions for 1997. If you have not done so, please send your subscription (standard: £5, students/unwaged: £2.50, institutional: £25) in Sterling to the Secretary/Treasurer at the above address as soon as possible. If you know of others who might wish to know of, and to join, the Society, please let us have their names and addresses.