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architecture. And, as a fact, problems of construction occupied him as much as problems of aesthetics; hence we find him searching into the causes that produce fissures in walls and niches, inquiring into the nature of arches, &c. The acoustics of church buildings also occupied him a good deal; he tried to discover an architectural combination which would enable the preacher's voice to reach the most distant corner of the building, and he invented the "teatro da predicare "—a lecture hall in the form of an amphitheatre. Among his designs there is also the plan of a town with a system of streets on two different levels for distinct services (Richter, pl. Ixxvii., Ixxviii).
An opportunity of coming to the front in this new domain soon presented itself. For years, the completion of Milan Cathedral had occupied the attention of all who were interested in Gothic architecture. The master-builders of Strasburg, as also Bramante, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, and many others, had given advice, and worked out plans. In 1487 l Leonardo, too, entered the lists in this great competition, which stirred the enthusiasm of the last champions of the Middle Ages ; he turned his attention to the cupola which was to crown the transept, the " tiburium." But everything tends to prove that his design in the Gothic manner was rejected,2 and henceforth the master's researches were purely platonic.
Leonardo eagerly accepted other works, apparently still more humble. On February 2, 1494, when at the Sforzesca, he made a design for a staircase of twenty-five steps, each two-thirds of a "braccia" high and eight "braccia" wide. On March 20 following, he went to Vigevano to examine the vines. It was perhaps on this occasion that he made a study of the staircase of a hundred and thirty steps in the mansion.
Although we cannot positively attribute any existing building to Leonardo, it is easy to divine from his sketches what his designs may or would have been in stone. They would first of all have revealed the sense of harmony that characterised this purist "par excellence," by the perfect equilibrium of the different parts of the edifice, attached to the central body by an absolutely organic and vital bond. Churches on a concentric plan, that is to say, with the lower aisles and chapels grouped as closely as possible round a central cupola which dominates the whole structure, on the system dear to the Byzantines, seem to have been preferred by the master. He sketched a great number in the sheets published by M. de Geymiiller, grouping four, six, and even eight cupolas round the central dome. The pavilion he designed for the Duchess Beatrice d'Este's garden had also a domed vault. His masterpiece in the domain of circular architecture is a design, no less majestic than simple in conception, for a mausoleum (inspired, perhaps, by that at Halicarnassus, which still existed in part at the beginning of the fifteenth century). According to M. de Geymiiller, this one design would have sufficed to rank Leonardo among the greatest architects of all time.1
1 1487. "Addi 8 agosto Magistro Leonardo Florentino, qui habet onus faciendi modellum unum tuboril ecclesiae irujoris, juxta ordinationem factatn in Consilio fabricae, super ratione faciendi dictum modellum." L. 56 (Annali della Fablirica del Duomo di Milano, vol. iii., p. 38. Cf. Boito, // Duomo di Milano, pp. 227-228.)
2 Richter, vol. ii., pl. C.—Trivulzi MS., pl. xxxvii.
As an architect, says the same authority, Leonardo was the direct descendant of Brunellesco. He recognised this himself by drawing the plan of San Spirito at Florence,- sketching a lateral view of the church of San Lorenzo in the same city, and composing a plan almost identical with that of the famous Chapel of the Angels, three of Brunellesco's masterpieces. In his plans of churches he was clearly inspired by the dome and lantern of Santa Maria dei Fiori; and finally, it was from Brunellesco he borrowed the principle of double entablatures. 2 It is possible that the influence of another of his Florentine compatriots, the great Leone Battista Alberti, had little effect upon him till after his arrival in Milan, and that it worked upon him through the intermediary of Bramante, who proved himself in so many respects the successor and exponent of Alberti. But above all others, Bramante, in his classic rather than in his Lombard vein, made a deep impression on the master. Leonardo the architect, like Leonardo the sculptor, had dreams of colossal, almost chimeric works. The royal necropolis he planned (Richter, pl. xcviii) was to consist, according to M. de Geymuller's calculations, of an artificial mountain, 600 metres in diameter at the base, and of a circular temple, the pavement of which was to be on a level with the spires of Cologne Cathedral, while the interior was to be of the same width as the nave of S. Peter's at Rome.a
1 M. de Geymuller's study is incorporated in Dr. Richter's work.
2 Ch. Ravaisson-Mollien, vol. ii., fol. 67 v°.
On another occasion, fired by the example of Aristotele di Fioravante, the famous Bolognese engineer, who had removed a tower from one place to another without demolishing it, he proposed to the Florentine government to raise the Baptistery by means of machinery, and replace it on a base of steps. Needless to say, the project was not favourably received. Here again the great artist and scholar showed himself a visionary.
1 According to Signor Uzielli, it was in 1499 that Leonardo made a report on the causes that threatened the destruction of the church of San Salvatore al Monte. (Riarche, ist ed. vol. ii, p. 215-216.) G. Milanesi, however, gives 1506 as the date of this consultation. (Vasari, vol. iv.)
Leonardo's Academy—His Writings On Art—The "treatise ON Painting "—Fra
LUCA PACIOLI AND HIS TREATISE ON PROPORTION—LEONARDO'S "ATELIER" AND HIS TEACHING.
EONARDO was not content to create, he burned with the desire to teach also. In order to act more strongly on those by whom he was surrounded, he founded the academy which bore his name. This was not, as we might be tempted to think, merely an academic body, devoted to the glorification of ability, nor even an institution for public teaching. In all probability, it was a free society, through which its members could obtain a more fruitful influence on each other and their neighbours, by discussion, by working together, and by general community of tastes and studies. All the documents we possess to throw light on this mysterious institution are half a dozen engravings with the words "Academia Lepnardi Vinci"1 in an interlaced ornament, and the
1 Various hypotheses have been put forward to explain these "tondi," as they have been called from their circular shape. Leonardo, says Vasari, wasted a good deal of time in drawing festoons of cords—"gruppi cli cordi''—in a pattern : one of these, a very beautiful and intricate example, was engraved. Modern writers have suggested that these
engraving of a woman's head, bearing the same inscription. And yet there can be no doubt about the influence this institution had upon the formation of the Milanese school, and even, I may add, upon the genesis of modern science.1
Leonardo's academy is usually pictured as one of those essentially solemn and formal societies which rose into vogue in the sixteenth century, and reached their full expansion in the seventeenth. Such an idea is anachronistic. The epoch with which we are now concerned
prints were intended to serve as entrance tickets to the sessions or courses of the Milanese Accademia, or that they were destined for "ex libris," to be pasted into the books belonging to the Academy library. The Marchcsc d'Adda explains them as models of linear ornament, for the use of the pupils of every kind who frequented the Academy, painters, miniaturists, goldsmiths, and even handicraftsmen. More recently, M. Charles Henry has suggested that they were demonstrations of the master's scientific aesthetics. (Introduction a F Esthetique scientifique, Paris, 1885, p. 5.)
It is evident that this interlaced ornament is not of German origin, as Passavant declared it to be, though Diirer indeed copied it, for it recurs in Leonardo's manuscripts (Codex Atlanticus, fol. 548—Ravaisson-Mollien, vol. vi. MS., no. 2038 of the Bibliotheque Nationale, fol. 34 vi, in the paintings of one of the small rooms in the castle at Milan (see p. 205), on the spandril of the vault in the sacristy of Santa Maria delle Grazie, also at Milan (Mongeri, L'Arte a Milano, p. 213), on the sleeves of the woman in the female portrait of the Ambrosiana, and on those of one of the horsemen in the Battle of Anghiari. M. Errera, Professor of the University of Brussels, suggests that the interlacements may have been an armorial rebus; the word "Vinci" means "enchained," and is the root of "vincoli" (bonds). Pacioli, however, plays on the word "Vinci," i.e., who has vanquished, who can vanquish. Winterberg's ed.,
1 In Uzielli's last edition (vol. i., p. 505), the very existence of Leonardo's academy, whether as a scientific or as an artistic body, is contested. According to Signor Uzielli, it was nothing more than a pious but unfulfilled aspiration. I cannot share his opinion. Do we not know, thanks to Luca Pacioli, that on February 9, 1498, at least, Lodovico organised a grand scientific tournament (" laudabile e scientifico duello ") at the Castle of Milan in which prelates, generals, doctors, astrologers, and men of law, besides Leonardo himself, took part as combatants and spectators. It was there declared —"ces paroles douces comme le miel "—that nothing could be more meritorious in a man of talent than to communicate his gift to others (Divina Proportion. Cf. MiillerWalde: Jahrbuch, 1897, p. 115-118).—Another contemporary, the chronicler Corio, speaks of the elegant academy of Lodovico il Moro.
In one of his Norelle, Bandello describes the "salon " of Cecilia Gallerani, the favourite of II Moro and the original of one of Leonardo's most famous portraits, and shows us soldiers, musicians, architects, philosophers, and poets grouped about her. Such " reunions" were in fact academies, and have been compared, reasonably enough, with that of which Leonardo was the instigator.
The organisation of the Milanese Academy would be of great interest for us, were it only to let us know how far the discoveries of Leonardo had a chance of propagation, and whether some among them may not have come to the knowledge of his immediate successors by direct oral tradition.