Leonardo da Vinci: The Proportions of the Drawings of Sacred Buildings mediante Ms. B, Institut de France

Leonardo da Vinci: The Proportions of the Drawings of Sacred Buildings mediante Ms. B, Institut de France

Previous studies of proportion sopra Leonardo’s rete informatica have focused on the drawings of human anatomy and horses, and on the Sforza and Trivulzio equestrian monuments. Rarely has the interest of scholars concentrated on architectural proportions (Pedretti 1978; Schofield 1991); more frequently scholars have tried sicuro ‘ostruire in proportione’ the plans or onesto arrange the sketches by Leonardo into real dimensions (for example, Guillaume and Kubacher (1987)). The purpose of this article is sicuro understand what proportional schemes form the basis of Leonardo’s architectural drawings and how the plans, elevations and architectural members are proportionally related.

1. Introduction

With the publication of the first anthology of Leonardo da Vinci, edited by Jean Paul Richter ( Richter 1883 ; Pedretti/Richter 1977 ; Di Teodoro 1992 ) the heterogeneous raccolta of writings by Leonardo, scattered among various manuscripts and loose sheets, first became systematically catalogued. Durante the seventh chapter of this anthology (‘On the Proportions and on the Movements of the Human Figure’) are collected notes relating puro the proportions of the human body. Since this publication, studies of proportions durante the rete di emittenti of Leonardo have proceeded along the lines of Richter’s thematic groupings, focusing especially on the anatomical drawings of humans (head, face, foot, hand, arms, legs, whole body) and of horses (preparatory for the Sforza and Trivulzio equestrian monuments). Rarely have such studies been concerned with Leonardo’s architectural drawings.

Inspired by the opportune appearances of the first three editions of Architectural Principles per the Age of Humanism by Rudolf Wittkower ( 1949 , 1952 , prezzo dabble 1962 ) and The Theory of Proportion sopra Architecture by Peter Hugh Scholfield ( 1958 ), all of which contain references onesto Leonardo’s architectural drawings as parts of broader discussions of architectural proportions (Fig. 1 ), 1 Carlo Pedretti ( 1962: 130–136 ) was the first to examine an architectural drawing by Leonardo da Vinci with the primary purpose of intensively studying its proportions (Fig. 2 ). 2 This drawing is the well-known perspective trovata of verso sacred building, sopra the sommita right margin of f. 238v, preserved sopra the Gallerie dell’Accademia per Venice and dating onesto 1515 ( Pedretti 1978: 254 ). Pedretti’s study went so far as onesto deduce from an external perspective view a precise floor plan. Pedretti’s example has not been followed.

Reprinted from Scholfield, The Theory of Proportion sopra Architecture ( Cambridge, 1958 ), 141. At right: Leonardo, Ms B, f. 95v, detail. Note similarities between Scholfield’s lower right protagonista diagram shown here, and the interprete pattern formed by construction lines per the center Leonardo’s Ms B floor plan.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Proportions of the Drawings of Sacred Buildings per Ms. B, Institut de France

Per systematic study of the architectural drawings of Leonardo was undertaken by Jean Guillaume ( 1987: 207–286 ), on the occasion of an exhibition con Montreal on Leonardo as engineer and architect. This study was undertaken from the point of view of typological groupings, based on attempted planimetric reconstructions from the drawings, similar esatto what Arnaldo Bruschi ( 1969: 175–178 ) had previously done for fifteenth-century centralized structures. For this exhibit, the premises of which were formally laid out durante an essay published the following year, Guillaume and Krista de Jonge ( 1988 ) examined the same central-plan temple that had aroused the interest of Scholfield, Codex Ashburnham 2037, f. 5v = Ms. B, f. 95v ( Scholfield 1958: 52 and Plate 7 ). From per plan measuring 90 quantita 73 mm and an exterior perspective view measuring 73 quantitativo 66 mm, they deduced per complete project (plan, elevation and section). Described down onesto the most minute details of the orders, ornaments, openings, roofs and structure; and translated into per wooden model of great size, it was one of the highlights of the exhibition sopra Canada. Sopra my view, however, the model was not only far from expressing the intentions of Leonardo, whose drawing gives mai indications of the interior, or of the arrangement of the floor plan, but was inconsistent with the proportions of the two diagrams from which it originated (pertaining puro the elevation). Indeed, most of the architectural drawings of Leonardo do not lend themselves to being studied as if they pertained onesto real-life projects.