Paris, Institut de France, mss "A" to "M"

Manuscripts of the Institut de France Facsimile Edition

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The manuscripts taken in 1795 from the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan to Paris by Napoleon are made up of twelve codices, designated by the letters A to M, conserved exactly as they appeared as when they were compiled. For this reason they constitute an exceptional document for studying Leonardo’s life and works. At times he concentrates on problems in geometry, physics or mechanics, while at other times his attention veers to audaciously conceived technology, intertwining autobiographical data with observations on literary and artistic questions about what ‘animates the soul’.

Enriched with masterful drawings, the smaller-sized manuscripts are pocket notebooks where, with acute perspicacity and quick sketches, the scientist records a fleeting thought, a surprising idea or a personal note. The larger notebooks have more elaborate writings and drawings containing outlines for treatises on hydraulic sciences and flying machines, architecture, optics and problems of vision, this latter topic related to the ‘science of the painter’ and found in a more developed form in his Treatise on Painting.

Binding description

Parchment, leather or cardboard

We have 2 facsimiles of the manuscript "Manuscripts of the Institut de France":

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#1 Manoscritto A

Ottaviano: Collezione Apocrifa Da Vinci, 2015

  • Commentary (Italian)
  • Limited Edition: 499 copies
  • This is a partial facsimile of the original document, Manuscripts of the Institut de France: the facsimile doesn't attempt to replicate the format or the look-and-feel of the original document.

The facsimile edition features only Manuscript A.

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#2 I Manoscritti dell'Institut de France

Florence: Giunti Editore, 1987

  • Commentary (English, Italian) by Marinoni, Augusto
  • Limited Edition: 998 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Manuscripts of the Institut de France: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

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.


Twelve leather-covered boxes with gold tooling.

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