Leonardo Da Vinci's Treatise of Painting

The Story of The World's Greatest Treatise on Painting - Its Origins, History, Content, And Influence.

by Richard Shaw Pooler

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"Richard Pooler has produced an interesting and well-written account of a puzzling aspect of art history: what did Leonardo da Vinci intend to be the future of his notes on painting? That he was attempting to codify and explore the science of painting seems evident but, without a clear understanding of sequence and the tenor of his remarks, it is not possible to be sure. Added to this is the tenuous nature of the survival of what has come to be known as the Treatise on Painting: much has been lost or, at least, may still be hidden in other manuscript collections. Several people have tried to assemble and suggest a logical sequence for what remains, attempting to provide coherence to the insights that Leonardo offers -- and, yet, the mystery remains.

This text is intended for a reader with an interest but not necessarily a deep research background. Pooler is careful to provide sufficient background so that one can appreciate the turbulent history through which Leonardo, his thoughts and the manuscripts, have passed: chance, mendacity and scholarship have each played a role. That anything has survived is, perhaps, the greatest miracle: in this book, we have a clear account."

Peter G. Underwood
Emeritus Professor
University of Cape Town

This book traces the story of the world's greatest treatise on painting - Leonardo Da Vinci's "Treatise of Painting". It combines an extensive body of literature about the Treatise with original research to offer a unique perspective on:
• Its origins, and history of how it survived the dispersal of manuscripts;
• Its contents, their significance and how Leonardo developed his Renaissance Theory of Art;
• The development of both the abridged and complete printed editions;
• How the printed editions have influenced treatises and art history throughout Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, and America from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Centuries.

Leonardo 1452
Florence One 1466-1483
Milan One 1483-1499
The Wandering Years 1499-1503
Florence Two 1503-1506
Milan Two 1506-1513
Rome 1513-1515
France 1516-1519
Leonardo's Will
Leonardo's Legacy
Notes, Codices and Manuscripts
Francesco Melzi and the Treatise of Painting
An earlier Treatise on Painting
Orazio Melzi and the Dispersal of the Manuscripts
The Manuscripts that have survived
Manuscripts that went to France
Manuscripts in Spain
Manuscripts that went to England
Manuscripts in Italy
A Manuscript in America
Other Collections
Stemma of the Dispersal of the Manuscripts
Other Treatises on Painting
Manuscripts Copies of the Treatise of Painting
The Codex Huygens
The Printed Editions and their Development
Stemma of the Printed Editions
The First Printed Editions - Duj Fresne 1651
Complete Editions of the Codex Urbinas
The Structure of Leonardo's Thought
Art Theory from the Middle ages to the Renaissance
Leonardo;s Development of Art Theory
The concept of Painting as a Science
The concept of Observation
The concept of Vision
The concept of Colour and Light
The concept of Forms
The Influence of Leonardo's Art Theory
Leonardo's Reputation and Influence
Leonardo's Art Today
The Provenance of Leonardo's Paintings
Appendix 1 - Manuscript copied from the Codex Urbinas
Appendix 2 - Printed Editions of the Treatise of Painting
Appendix 3 - Extant Vincian Manuscripts
Appendix 4 - The Concordance
Appendix 5 - Dates of Manuscripts and Paintings
Appendix 6 - The Life of Leonardo Da Vinci by Paolo Giovio
Appendix 7 - Leonardo Da Vinci by the Anonimo Gaddiano

Richard Shaw Pooler was born in 1948 in Durban South Africa. He graduated with Bachelors (First Class Honours) in 1970 and MPhil (Distinction) in 2004, both from the University of Cape Town, before completing his doctoral thesis at the University of South Africa in 2014. He is the author of various books on art and other subjects.

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Leonardo Da Vinci's Treatise of Painting

Book Subtitle

The Story of The World's Greatest Treatise on Painting - Its Origins, History, Content, And Influence.





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date

July 2014