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This is an edited version of the annotated list that appeared in Leonardo, by Martin Kemp (2004). This selection, from the vast literature on Leonardo, is designed to guide the reader towards some of the more accessible, recent and authoritative sources, and to open a door into the primary sources and documentation for Leonardo’s works and life.


Brown, DA, Leonardo Da Vinci: Origins of a Genius, New Haven, 1998. A penetrating account of Leonardo’s artistic origins.

Chastel, A L’illustre incomprise – Mona Lisa, Paris, 1988. The afterlife of the Mona Lisa.

Clark, K, Leonardo da Vinci, ed. M. Kemp, London, 1993 (and Folio Society 2005). Remains the most eloquent introduction to Leonardo as an artist.

Farrago, C, ed, Leonardo’s Writings and Theory of Art, 5 vols, London, 1999. A valuable collection of writings on Leonardo, from early accounts to modern scholarship.

Kemp, M, Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment and Design, exhibition catalogue, V&A Publications, 2006. Offers an unparalleled insight into the working of Leonardo da Vinci's visual mind. Martin Kemp opens up Leonardo's thought processes while 200 illustrations from his notebooks bring his extraordinary ideas to life.

Kemp, M, Leonardo da Vinci. The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man, rev. edn Oxford, 2006. Covers the full range of Leonardo’s work and thought chronologically.

Kemp, M, Leonardo, Oxford, 2004. Treats Leonardo's ideas thematically in a more compact form.

Marani, P, Leonardo da Vinci, New York, 2003, (including a useful appendix of documents by E. Villata). Marani has published a series of valuable monographs and catalogues of Leonardo and his followers.

Turner, AR, Inventing Leonardo, New York, 1993. A discussion of Leonardo’s posthumous reputation.

Zöllner, F, with Nathan, J, Leonardo da Vinci, Cologne, 2003. The most comprehensive and fully illustrated recent catalogue

'Raccolta Vinciana', ed. P Marani, Milan, publishes bibliographical updates, as did 'Achademia Lionardi Vinci', ed. C. Pedretti.

Sources, facsimiles, etc.

Facsimiles of Leonardo’s Manuscripts were earlier published under the auspices of the Reale Commissione Vinciana, and new facsimiles are being published by Giunti as the Edizione Nazionale dei Manoscritti e dei Disegni di Leonardo da Vinci from 1964 onwards.

The Forster Codices have been published as a facsimile on two occasions. The first appeared in the 1930s. It is still useful, since it prints the modern Italian text next to the diagrams drawn by Leonardo. For further details, search the catalogue of the National Art Library at the V&A: I manoscritti e I disegni di Leonardo da Vinci, published by the Reale Commissione Vinciana under the auspices of the Ministerio dell’educazione nazionale, serie minore, vols I-V, I codici Forster (Rome, 1934-1936)

In the 1990s, an exact replica of the Codex Forster, with a transcript of the text in Leonardo’s Italian and modern Italian, was published by Giunti for the Commissione nazionale vinciana, in three volumes:

Il codice Forster I, trascrizione diplomatica e critica di Augusto Marinoni (Florence: Giunti Barbèra, 1992)

Il codice Forster II, trascrizione diplomatica e critica di Augusto Marinoni (Florence: Giunti Barbèra, 1992)

Il codice Forster III, trascrizione diplomatica e critica di Augusto Marinoni (Florence: Giunti Barbèra, 1992)

Farago, C, Leonardo da Vinci’s Paragone: A critical interpretation, New York, 1991. The Paragone (comparison of the arts) which opens the Vatican manuscript of the Treatise.

Kemp, M ed., trs. Kemp, M and Walker, M Leonardo on Painting, New Haven and London, 1989. An anthology of Leonardo’s writings on art.

Pedretti, C, Treatise on Painting, Berkeley, 1964, and London, 1965. The standard edition.

Pedretti, C, The literary works of Leonardo da Vinci, 2 vols (Oxford: Phaidon, 1977). Compiled and edited from the original manuscripts by Jean Paul Richter, commentary by Carlo Pedretti.

Pedretti, C. and Marinoni, A, Recent Italian transcriptions, generally accompanying the facsimiles. By the major scholars of Leonardo’s manuscript legacy.

Pedretti, C ed., with transcriptions by Marinoni, A, Codice atlantico, Florence: Giunti Barbèra, 2000. A compact, three-volume version of the original in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan.

Richter, Jean Paul, trans. and Richter, Irma, The literary works of Leonardo da Vinci, 2 vols (Oxford University Press, 1939). 2nd edition enlarged and revised. Extracts from all of Leonardo’s notebooks. This work should be read in conjunction with the 1977 edition.

Venerella, J, trans. Manuscripts, Raccolta Vinciana, Milan, 1999 onwards. Manuscripts from the collection of the Institut de France.

Villata, E ed., I Documenti e le testimonianze contemporanee, Ente Raccolta Vinciana, Milan, 1999. The documentation of Leonardo’s life.


Bambach, C, Leonardo da Vinci Master Draftsman, New York, Metropolitan Museum, 2003, (exhibition catalogue). Contains important scholarship by Bambach herself and essays by various authors.

Clark, K and Pedretti, C The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, 3 vols, London, 1968

Popham, AE, The Drawings of Leonardo, London, 1947 and 1994 (with intro. by M. Kemp). The best compact general collection.

Lady J. Roberts and Clayton, M, Exhibition catalogues: the Windsor drawings at the Queen’s Gallery

Series of facsimiles by Giunti, and the Johnson Reprint Corporation, mainly edited by C. Pedretti.

Viatte, F, Leonardo de Vinci Dessins et Manuscrits, Paris, Louvre, 2003.

Architecture and engineering

Galluzzi, P The Renaissance Engineers, Florence, 1996. Sets Leonardo’s engineering in context.

Galluzzi, P ed. Leonardo Engineer and Architect, Montreal, 1987. Useful material and essays.

Marani, P L’Architettura fortificata negli studi di Leonardo da Vinci, Florence, 1984. Military architecture.

Pedretti, C. Leonardo Architect, London, 1986. The most complete review of Leonardo as an architect.

Rosheim, Mark, Leonardo’s Lost Robots, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, 2006. For the water clock.

Aspects of science, etc.

Keele, K, Leonardo da Vinci. Elements of the Science of Man, London, 1983 Sets Leonardo’s anatomical researches into the context of his thought.

Kwakkelstein, M, Leonardo as a Physiognomist, Leiden, 1994.

Marinoni, A, La Matemica di Leonardo da Vinci, Milan, 1982. The best treatment of Leonardo’s mathematics.

Macagno, E, Leonardian Fluid Mechanics, Iowa, 1986 onwards. Comprehensive analysis of the water drawings and notes is provided in this series of volumes.

Starnazzi, C, Leonardo Cartografo, Florence, 2003. Exploring Leonardo’s geological interests.

Veltman, K, Linear Perspective and the Visual Dimensions of Science and Art, Munich, 1986. A comprehensive treatment of Leonardo’s optics.

Zwijnenberg, R, The Writings and Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci: Order and Chaos in Early Modern Thought, New York, 1999. A good introduction to Leonardo’s thought.

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