The British Library is set to exhibit three of Leonardo da Vinci’s most revered notebooks together for the first time.
The Codex Arundel, the Codex Forster and the Codex Leicester will all feature in the show, which explores da Vinci’s profound belief that motion was at the centre of everything.
The exhibition, called ‘Mind in Motion’, is scheduled for next summer to mark the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance master’s death.
His notebooks contain diagrams, drawings, personal notes and observations, providing a unique insight into how he saw the world.
The three books are written in Leonardo’s mirror script and shine light on how ahead of his time he was, according to the British Museum.
One famous collection of his scientific writings, the Codex Leicester, is being shown in the UK for the first time since its purchase by Bill Gates, who has let the museum borrow it for three months.
The Microsoft founder bought the Codex Leicester in 1994 for $31 million (£24 mn), a price that made it the most expensive book ever sold.
The 72-page manuscript dates back to the 16th century and primarily relates to da Vinci’s thoughts relating to water-and the relationship between the moon, the Earth, and the sun.
Codex Arundel, already owned by the British library, is a collection of notes made between 1480 and 1518, dealing mainly with mechanics and geometry.
Amongst the highlights are studies on the moons reflection of light, the movement of water, observations on the production of sound and light, and designs for diving apparatus.
The Codex Forster dates dates back to 1487 and explores hydraulic engineering to a treatise on measuring solids.
It is also being loaned to the British library by owners, the Victoria and Albert Museum.
All of the notebooks are mirror- written, meaning that the words are supposed to be read from right to left.
Da Vinci also wrote his notes starting on the right-hand side of the page.
It is not clear whether this so-called mirror writing was a way to keep his notes private or simply a means to prevent smudging, as da Vinci was left-handed.
Roly Keating, the library’s chief executive, said it would be ‘a remarkable coming together’ of ‘three extraordinary and very famous’ documents.
‘These remarkable pages, written in Leonardo’s distinctive mirror writing, illustrate how his detailed studies of natural phenomena – and in particular of water – influenced his work both as an artist and an inventor,’ explained a spokesperson from the British Library.
Curator Andrea Clarke said da Vinci’s notebooks ‘show him to be an extraordinarily dynamic thinker who was able to make connections between multiple phenomena and disciplines.’
Da Vinci conceptualised a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, and the double hull, also outlining a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics.
Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime, but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded.
He made important discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had no direct influence on later science.
The da Vinci exhibit will run from June until September.
The library also announced exhibits exploring Buddhism and the act of writing.