De Ludo Scachorum

ms. 7955 - Archivio Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia, Italy)

Alternate Titles:

On the game of Chess, Schifanoia, Über das Schachspiel

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Alternate Titles

On the game of Chess
Über das Schachspiel

Extent / Format

48 pages / 16.0 x 11.5 cm

Around 1500
Artist / School

Luca Pacioli
Leonardo da Vinci


Over 100 educational positions and chess problems, drawn in red and black

Short description

This special publication of the famous treatise about the game of chess by the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli is a true historical treasure: an original Pacioli manuscript from ca. 1500. Over 100 chess problems were clarified on the manuscript’s 48 pages and were clarified and depicted in detailed illustrations – possibly from Pacioli’s friend and colleague Leonardo da Vinci. This treasure was rediscovered in the year 2006, making the history of this work even more interesting!

Facsimile editions available


De Ludo Scachorum

Luca Pacioli (1445-1517) is one of the most famous Italian mathematicians of the Renaissance. The document De divina proportione is considered to be his magnum opus, nonetheless, Pacioli also composed numerous other important works and made breakthrough discoveries. Additionally, he was close friends with Leonardo da Vinci, whom he met in Milan while they were both working for Ludovico il Moro. Pacioli and Leonardo worked closely together henceforth. Therefore, it is not implausible that Leonardo also illustrated Pacioli’s chess treatise with a few sketches of his own.

The Fascination with the Game of Kings

The original manuscript of the treatise De Ludo Scachorum, also known as the Schifanoia, consists of a 48-page booklet measuring 11.5 x 16 cm. It can be dated to ca. 1500 and, alongside the text, contains detailed depictions of chessboards with red and black figures. A total of 117 games are described in this way, sometimes in the new a la rabiosa technique. As a passionate chess player, Pacioli was enchanted by this extremely complex, mathematically logical game, depicting here the solution and explanation for various chess problems and positions.

A Precious Original

This treasure, which can be found today stored under the shelf mark ms. 7955 in the Archivio Crononini Cronberg in Italy, can look back on an eventful provenance. The document was originally dedicated to the important Margravine of Mantua Isabella d’Este and her husband Gianfrancesco Gonzaga. Mentioned by the author in his own writings, the famous manuscript fell into obscurity and was first rediscovered in 2006 at its modern repository. Count Guglielmo Coronini previously acquired the manuscript in Venice in 1963.

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