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Known primarily for his paintings, Leonardo Da Vinci was also an inventor, engineer, architect, scientist, and a slew of professions that involved critical thinking. These explorations of thought were documented in his many notebooks, which he was continually adding to everyday. The Codex Leicester is a compilation of these notebooks, compiled by Leonardo himself in Milan, between 1506 and 1510.

Leonardo imported the information from his notebooks onto 18 pages of double-sided linen paper, each of which was then folded to make a total of 72 pages in all. When copying over the text he used his famous "mirror writing" technique, which he is very much known for.

Within the pages of the Codex there are as many drawings and sketches as there is blocks of text. In Leonardo’s mind it was much easier to explain things visually than it was to explain things with complex words that would only confuse the "reader". In fact, in a few sections Da Vinci actually addresses the "reader" formally, showing that his intentions were for the Codex Leicester to be viewed publicly and not only for his own personal use.

The content of the Codex is all over the place: subjects ranging from human anatomy, architecture, the science of painting, botany, and flight are all touched up within its binding. But even though much is discussed, Da Vinci was mainly exploring the realm of hydrology, motion, and the stars during this time period.

Through out the ages the Codex Leicester has changed hands a number of times. The Codex laid dormant after Da Vinci’s death in 1519 until its rediscovery in 1690 by painter Giuseppe Ghezzi in an old chest in a storage room in Rome. Ghezzi kept the Codex until 1717 when Thomas Coke, the Earl of Leicester, bought it from him.

The Codex then laid within the House Of Leicester, where it obviously picked up its name from, until 1980, when an American businessman named Armand Hammer scooped it up. In 1994 Bill Gates bought it from Hammer for a cool 30.8 million dollars. Bill Gates has been kind enough to loan out the Codex to various art galleries since then, but now the Codex primarily spends its days in a pitch-black room in one of Gates’ many mansions.

Sources:

http://www.phm.gov.au/exhibits/archive/leonardo/notebook.htm
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/leonardo/genius.html

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