Compiled circa 1508-1510 and probably assembled by Leonardo himself, the codex has had many owners, most recently the American oil-tycoon Hammer in 1980 and in 1994, Bill Gates. It contains digests of his studies on water illustrated by fascinating drawings of currents, cliffs, and whirlpools.
The volume contains notes on hydrodynamics and hydraulic engineering as well as explanations of lunar phases and hypotheses about fossils. In a fascinating continuity between geology and cosmology, palaeontology and astronomy, Leonardo formulates his brilliant theories on the origin of marine life, reflected in images found in the ‘Floods’ and in the background landscapes of his famous paintings. He also vividly describes the numerous places he visited during his ramblings in Tuscany and Lombardy.
The balance between scientific investigation and the science of painting recurs, as in his suggestive analogy between the movement of water and the flow of hair, the results of which are so evident in Leonardo’s masterpieces.