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The Forster Codices comprise three manuscripts, each very different in terms of topic and dating. Initially owned by Francesco Melzi, they later passed to Pompeo Leoni, reaching Venice at some unspecified time. During the 1800s they were acquired by Earl Edward George Lytton, and upon his death were inherited by John Forster (1873), who in turn left them to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1876.

The subjects treated in the codices are quite varied, ranging from important studies on mathematics and geometry and research on hydraulic machinery to annotations on physics and the study of grammar. They also contain reflections of a different nature: cosmological themes, allusions to fables and witticisms, moral pronouncements, autobiographical information (the expenses for the burial of Caterina), numerous sketches of horses for the never-completed equestrian monument to Francesco Sforza, urbanistic studies for Milan and drawings of the floor plan of the Cathedral in Milan. Stunningly beautiful and very interesting are the designs for the masked festivals related to his period at the court of Ludovico il Moro, where Leonardo was the artist and eclectic genius capable of fulfilling the requests of the entire palace.

Codex Forster I size 14.5x10 cm

Codex Forster II size 19.5x7 cm

Codex Forster III size 9x6 cm

Binding description


We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Forster Codices": I Codici Forster facsimile edition, published by Giunti Editore, 1992

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I Codici Forster

Florence: Giunti Editore, 1992

  • Commentary (Italian) by Marinoni, A.
  • Limited Edition: 998 copies
  • This facsimile is complete (full-size color reproduction of the whole original document).

Three leather-covered boxes with gold tooling. Each box (size 250 x 360 mm) contains the facsimile, and a volume printed on handmade paper and bound in Fabriano paper, with the diplomatic and critical transcrition edited by Augusto Marinoni.

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