Da Vincis 12-volume collection to be dismantled

November 3rd, 2008 - 3:19 pm ICT by ANI  

Rome, Nov 3 (ANI): A leading Leonardo Da Vinci scholar has spoke in favor of dismantling a 12-volume collection of work by the Renaissance genius.

According to a report by news agency Ansa.it, the scholar in question is Carlo Pedretti, who has been a leading Leonardo scholar for nearly six decades.

Commenting on plans to reverse a controversial 1970s restoration project, which would leave the Codex Atlanticus as a bundle of loose pages, Pedretti said that he approved of the proposal.

The damage has already been done. The Codex Atlanticus was ruined when its pages were first assembled into 12 volumes, he said. Separating it now can only improve its conservation and make it easier to display at exhibitions, he added.

The codex is the largest collection of Leonardos drawings and writings, exploring his insights and ingenious ideas on a vast array of subjects, such as flying, mathematics, botany, weaponry, astronomy and architecture.

It was originally assembled in the late 16th century by the sculptor Pompeo Leoni, who dismembered a number of existing Leonardo notebooks in the process.

He gathered nearly 1,120 scraps of paper onto 402 pages, which he then bound into a single, enormous volume.

A restoration project of 1968-1972 split the codex into 12 leather-bound parts in efforts to help preserve it.

These pages were mounted on the blank sheets of 12 volumes, which altered their edges for ever, said Pedretti. And thats to say nothing of the damage caused to the writing and drawings, which were weakened by submerging the pages in water and alcohol and then badly touched up by restorers, he added.

Given that the most recent sale of a Leonardo drawing fetched 25 million dollars, the damage caused by this restoration was genuinely incalculable, he further added.

Plans to dismantle the codex were announced by Milans Ambrosiana Library, which, with the exception of 20 years in France, has stored the collection since 1637.

The proposal has generally been greeted favourably, with Pedrettis endorsement carrying particular weight.

According to Florences Museum Superintendent, Cristina Acidini, the move could reveal new secrets about the codex.

When it was bound in its current form, they did not have the techniques available today for gathering information from paper or analysing ink composition, she said.

Splitting the pages would enable experts to assess the needs of each page individually, ensuring more effective conservation, she added. (ANI)

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