Codex Atlanticus

Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Milan, Italy)

Alternate Titles:

Il Codice Atlantico

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Alternate Titles

Il Codice Atlantico

Extent / Format

1,119 pages / 64.5 x 43.5 cm

Artist / School

Leonardo Da Vinci


1,286 drawings

Former owners

Pompeo Leoni

Short description

The Codex Atlanticus is a true gem for research into Leonardo da Vinci’s entire body of work: the greatest coherent collection of Leonardo’s sketches and writings. The famous Italian sculptor Pompeo Leoni collected the numerous manuscripts and compiled them into twelve volumes in the late 16th century. All aspects of Leonardo’s creativity are assembled here: mechanics and mathematics, astronomy and physics, geography, botany, chemistry, and anatomy, but also the visual arts.

Facsimile editions available


Codex Atlanticus

The ambitious goal of collecting the work of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), which is spread all across the world, was realized in the great national edition of the manuscripts and sketches of Leonardo da Vinci. One of the most famous artifacts thereby was the famous Codex Atlanticus, a compendium of 12 volumes with a total of over 1,000 pages. This codex comprises a considerable part of the written legacy of the universal genius from Italy in the years 1478 – 1518. As is always true with Leonardo, this work and his written notes are directly accompanied by his graphic creativity: 1286 sketches are to be found alongside the text of the Codex Atlanticus!

An Unbelievable Wealth of Material

This treasure is stored today in Milan’s Biblioteca Ambrosiana. The bundle was in the possession of Pompeo Leoni in the 16th century. This Italian sculptor and collector assembled the codex in the 16th century and brought it with him from Italy to Madrid. This collection consisted of a considerable number of pages and fragments and comprises nearly the entirety of Leonardo’s intellectual work. The Codex Atlanticus is still the largest collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s writings and sketches today!

Manifestation of a Universal Genius

All the aspects of his creativity are assembled here: mechanics and mathematics, astronomy and physics, geography, botany, chemistry, and anatomy, but also the visual arts. Alongside inventions of equipment and machines, technological innovations, designs for weapons and fortifications, hydraulic devices, driving and flying machines, one finds a wealth of anatomical drawings – Leonardo’s famous proportions-study of the Vitruvian Man, inter alia. Additionally, the codex offers an inside view of Leonardo’s artistic creativity, with studies of the paintings of the Adoration of the Magi, Leda and the Swan, and the famous Battle of Anghiari. Documents related to architecture and city planning for the rejuvenation of Milan, calculations and deliberations, philosophies and subjective opinions wonderfully round out the compendium.

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