Section 2
Science, Optics and Flight

Leonardo’s approach to scientific investigation is best expressed in his Treatise on Painting:

“ But to me it seems that all sciences are vain and full of errors that are not born of experience […].” 1

Though his initial knowledge was derived from classical texts, he quickly turned to empirical research and exploration, as the quote indicates. This included anatomical dissections, the observation of shadows cast by rays of light, and the study of water and flight. The three drawings in the exhibition are perfect examples of Leonardo’s approach: C. A. folio 816 recto focuses on the observations of natural rays penetrating clouds; C. A. folio 921 recto explores the anatomy of the human eye; while C. A. folio 860 recto attempts to create a radically futuristic flying machine.

1 Quoted by Juliana Barone, Catalogue 8. Leonardo: Studies of Motion. Drawings by Leonardo from the Codex Atlanticus, Milan, Novara: Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana and Istituto Geografico De Agostini, 2011, p. 11. 


Folio 912 recto
Folio 816 recto
Folio 860 recto