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© Bill Gates Collection, Codex Leicester

Visit Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion at The British Library

There’s more to Leonardo da Vinci than fabulous art, you know. If you didn’t know, then discover the full da Vinci story at The British Library, where a new exhibition about his most precious notebooks is opening.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion (7 Jun until 8 Sep) brings together three hallowed artefacts, brimming with the handwritten workings of this revered mind. These notebooks have never been grouped together in the UK and, as the exhibition’s name suggests, they’ll show da Vinci’s major preoccupation with movement.

The movement of objects might seem an unusual obsession but, as far as da Vinci was concerned, motion is at the heart of, well, everything. The core objects in the exhibition are a trio of codices (a codex is an ancient manuscript, in the form of a book), which cover his musings on nature, geometry, mechanics, astronomy and the human body. The Codex Arundel, for example, includes a drawing that explores how sunlight dances across rippling water. It features da Vinci’s trademark intense and energetic sketching, but also scattered equations and notations – it’s like seeing blueprints for the masterful art that followed.

The Royal Collection is also honouring this cultural giant with Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing at The Queen’s Gallery to 13 Oct 2019 
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(Studies of Rays photo courtesy of British Library, Codex Arundel)

The Codex Arundel is owned by The British Library while the Codex Forster has been lent by South Kensington’s Victoria and Albert Museum, but the exhibition’s third star, the Codex Leicester, was purchased by Bill Gates in 1994. This is the first time that the Microsoft founder has released the codex for display in the UK. Gates’s book includes studies of different types of surfaces and the use of obstacles; da Vinci’s dense writing floods these pages, alongside neat, elaborate doodles.

Institutions around the world are marking 500 years since da Vinci was born (including The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, with Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing) but with A Mind in Motion, The British Library underlines just how insatiably curious this man was. Da Vinci looked at the world around him and couldn’t wait to untangle it all. Now you can gaze at the papers where all of his fantastic energy was transferred.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion is open until 8 Sep 2019
£7 | 96 Euston Rd, NW1 2DB
0330-333-1144 | www.bl.uk

From one master to the next, visit the Van Gogh and Britain exhibition at Tate Britain 

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