Inside the Codex on the Flight of Birds

A Closer Look at the Structure of the Codex

Codice sul volo. Prima di copertina.Musei Reali

The manuscript consists of a cardboard cover and eighteen folios tied non-symmetrically. There are ten on the left side and eight on the right side.

On the front cover, centered at the top, is written “LEONARDO DA VINCI.”

Codice sul volo. 16v.Musei Reali

The manuscript was created by combining sheets of paper that had already been partially used at different times.

On many of the sheets are red-stone sketches of various subjects.

Codice sul volo. 11v.Musei Reali

Some have plant motifs.

Codice sul volo. 12v.Musei Reali

Codice sul volo. 17v.Musei Reali

…others have details of the human body, such as limbs…

Codice sul volo. 10v.Musei Reali

…or a head, related to Leonardo's famous Self-Portrait

Codice sul volo. 2v.Musei Reali

The Subjects of the Codex

Going through the codex according to its intended order, studies on a wide range of subjects, all organized more or less in the same way, can be seen. The inside front cover contains notes and recipes for making medals and treating enamels and similar materials.

Codice sul volo. 2r.Musei Reali

Folios 1–4r almost exclusively contain notes on mechanics.

Codice sul volo. 18r.Musei Reali

Folios 4v–18r contain notes on the flight of birds and artificial flight.

Codice sul volo. 18v.Musei Reali

In folio 18v are biographical notes…

…sketches of mechanisms,

…and an impressive sketch of a channeled river course.

Codice sul volo. 19r. Terza di copertina.Musei Reali

The sketch continues on the adjoined inside cover.

This last page contains architectural drawings…

…expense notes,

and other annotations (or prophecies) on flying machines.

Codice sul volo. 18r.Musei Reali

The Organization of the Text

Codice sul volo. 10v.Musei Reali

The texts on the flights of birds are organized with a set of drawings arranged at the edge of the page or transversely.

Codice sul volo. 7r.Musei Reali

The mechanical components for making the wing of the flying machine, on the other hand, occupy larger sections of the sheet.

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