The Fabrication of Leonardo da Vinci’s Trattato della Pittura

With a Scholarly Edition of the Italian Editio Princeps (1651) and an Annotated English Translation


The basis for our understanding of Leonardo’s theory of art was, for over 150 years, his Treatise on Painting, which was issued in 1651 in Italian and French. This present volume offers both the first scholarly edition of the Italian editio princeps as well as the first complete English translation of this seminal work. In addition, It provides a comprehensive study of the Italian first edition, documenting how each editorial campaign that lead to it produced a different understanding of the artist’s theory. What emerges is a rich cultural and textual history that foregrounds the transmission of artisanal knowledge from Leonardo’s workshop in the Duchy of Milan to Carlo Borromeo’s Milan, Cosimo I de’ Medici’s Florence, Urban VIII’s Rome, and Louis XIV’s Paris.
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Biographical Note

Claire Farago (Ph.D., 1988) is Professor of Renaissance Art, Theory, and Criticism at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her books include Leonardo da Vinci’s Paragone (1992); Reframing the Renaissance: Visual Culture in Europe and Latin America, 1450-1650 (1995); Leonardo da Vinci: Selected Scholarship in English, 5 vols. (1999); Leonardo da Vinci and the Ethics of Style (2008); Re-Reading Leonardo: The Treatise on Painting across Europe 1550-1900 (2009); and Art Is Not What You Think It Is, co-authored with Donald Preziosi (2012). Janis Bell (Ph.D., 1983) is an independent scholar. She has published widely on early modern art and art theory, particularly on Leonardo da Vinci, Matteo Zaccolini, Raphael, Caravaggio, Cassiano dal Pozzo, and on the legacy of ancient and medieval optical theory. She is contributing co-editor (with Thomas Willette) of Art History in the Age of Bellori (2002). Carlo Vecce (Ph.D., 1986) is Professor of Italian Studies at the University of Naples “L’Orientale.” He is a widely published scholar of Italian literature and Renaissance culture. He is co-author of the critical edition of Leonardo’s Book on Painting (1995); editor of the Codex Arundel (1998); and author of a biography of Leonardo (1998; rev. ed. 2006), which has been translated into several languages.

Table of contents

Volume 1 List of Illustrations Foreword Martin Kemp Preface and Acknowledgments List of Manuscript Abbreviations List of Frequently Cited Sources Introduction: Defining a Historical Approach to Leonardo’s Trattato della pittura Claire Farago MILAN 1. Before the Trattato: Philological Notes on the Libro di pittura in the Codex Urbinas 1270 Carlo Vecce 2. Leonardo’s Workshop Procedures and the Trattato della pittura Claire Farago Introduction Part One: The Optics of Painting in Leonardo’s Workshop and the Trattato Part Two: The Training of the Artist and the Trattato Part Three: The Mechanics of Human Movement in the Trattato 3. Leonardo’s Lost Book on Painting and Human Movements Matthew Landrus URBINO 4. On the Origins of the Trattato and the Earliest Reception of the Libro di pittura Claire Farago FLORENCE 5. The Earliest Abridged Copies of the Libro di pittura in Florence Anna Sconza ROME TO PARIS 6. Seventeenth-Century Transformations: Cassiano dal Pozzo’s Manuscript Copy of the Abridged Libro di pittura Treatise on Painting Juliana Barone 7. The Final Text Janis Bell Part One: Raphaël Trichet du Fresne as Textual Editor Part Two: Charles Errard and the Illustrations In Appendice The Visual Imagery of the Printed Editions of Leonardo’s Treatise on Painting Mario Valentino Guffanti Volume 2 Text of the Trattato della pittura Editorial Procedures Introduction: Claire Farago and Janis Bell Editorial Criteria for the Transcription: Maria Rascaglia Establishing the Text of 1651: Claire Farago and Janis Bell Abbreviations Used in the Critical Apparatus Table of Contents of Trattato Chapters Transcription with Critical Apparatus: Carlo Vecce, Maria Rascaglia, and Anna Sconza English Translation: Janis Bell and Claire Farago Reader’s Notes Introduction: Janis Bell Reader’s Notes by Chapter: Janis Bell and Claire Farago Sources Cited in the Reader’s Notes Primary Sources Secondary Sources In appendice A. Brooker 1: Janis Bell B. MS A, LdP, and ITAL 1651: Claire Farago C. Organization of the Trattato della pittura: Claire Farago D. Omissions, Trattato and LdP: Claire Farago E. Variants in the Early Florentine Manuscripts: Anna Sconza F. Leonardo’s Library: Claire Farago


All interested in Leonardo da Vinci, art academies, artisanal epistemologies, Early Modern art theory, the concept of art, intellectual history, Italian studies, cultural exchange within Europe and in the Mediterranean.