Medieval manuscripts blog

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30 March 2023

Showcasing the latest research on Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks and drawings

'Leonardo da Vinci's Papers: Invention and Reconstruction': 18–19 May 2023

Following the British Library’s landmark 2019 exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion, we are very pleased to announce a two-day international academic conference which will showcase the latest research on crucial aspects of Leonardo da Vinci’s paper legacy in the wider context of both his notebooks and drawings. 

The Leonardo conference poster

The conference is organised by Juliana Barone in collaboration with the British Library and the Warburg Institute, with support from Birkbeck College. Each day will be held at the different partner institution:

  • 18 May, British Library, London (Knowledge Centre)
  • 19 May, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU (Chancellor’s Hall)

Traditionally, Leonardo’s written and artistic works have been considered separately but they are in fact intrinsically related and form the pillars of both his intellectual investigations and inventive processes. ‘Leonardo da Vinci’s Papers: Invention and Reconstruction’ will newly explore interdisciplinary aspects concerning the various types and innovative uses of paper by one of the most complex and prolific polymaths of our times.

Questions relating to the physical characteristics of Leonardo’s papers and ways to examine them will form a springboard for re-evaluations by scholars about dating, attribution, collections, reconstructions, reception and imaging, and also offer a unique opportunity to discuss how we might view his legacy today.

Transmitted light image of a bifolium from the Codex Arundel

Transmitted light image of a bifolium from the Codex Arundel showing a mermaid watermark, chain and laid lines: Arundel MS 263, ff. 183r–182v

The conference programme comprises leading art historians, science historians, curators, conservators and scientists from key national and international institutions. Confirmed speakers include Martin Kemp (University of Oxford), Juliana Barone (Birkbeck College and the Warburg Institute), Martin Clayton (Royal Collection Trust), Carmen Bambach (Metropolitan Museum), Margaret Holben Ellis (New York University), Pietro Marani (Politecnico di Milano), and Cecilia Frosinini (Scientific Committee of the Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence). 

The conference will be accompanied by a public event, Daggers Drawn and Drawn Daggers. An hour with Leonardo and Michelangelo, presented by Martin Kemp (Oxford) and Ruth Rosen (actress) at the British Library on the evening of 18 May.

Drawing of a nude figure of a man by Leonardo da Vinci

Drawing of a nude figure of a man by Leonardo da Vinci. Royal Collection / © His Majesty King Charles III, 2023

Tickets are available for purchase for the two-day conference and the public event. Both will be live-streamed and an option to purchase tickets to watch online is also available.


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