Leonardo’s Fables

Sources, Iconography and Science


Leonardo’s Fables explores the compositional methods and sources of Leonardo’s fables and their relationship to illustrations and scientific studies. By concentrating on the chaotic character of Leonardo’s textual and visual annotations, the author gradually discloses the artist’s creative thinking that uses the page as a space for experimentation.

Fables allow Leonardo to tie together his technical and artistic skills, empirical observation, and experience to reveal the interactive forces at the basis of physical phenomena and the tensions between painting and humanistic culture. This study reevaluates Leonardo’s fables as part of a literary, aesthetic, and scientific project aimed at the investigation of Nature.

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Giuditta Cirnigliaro, Ph.D. (2018, Rutgers University) works on the intersections between Italian literature and the visual arts. She has published articles on Leonardo, word and image, digital and material studies, and edited Leonardo’s Favole e profezie with Carlo Vecce (Garzanti, 2019).
List of Figures

Introduction: The Paper and the Ink: Matter and Methodology

1 Collections of Words and Images
 1 Book of My Words
 2 Book of My Pictures
 3 From Rebus to Fable

2 Scientific Didactic and Fable Books from Leonardo’s Library
 1 ‘Pliny,’ Bestiaries, and Encyclopedic Knowledge
 2 ‘Aesop’ and Fabular Culture
 3 Nut Metamorphosis: Nature, Art, and Technology

3 Word-and-Image Mechanisms
 1 Literature on the artes mechanicae
 2 Cause and Effect in Technical and Fabular Thought
 3 Fables as Mechanical Metaphors


Appendix 1: Leonardo da Vinci: Fables
Appendix 2: Recurrent Models in the Fables
Appendix 3: Codices
Appendix 4: Books
Index of Names
All interested in Leonardo and word and image studies, and anyone concerned with the reworking of sources and the relationship between art and science in the early modern world. Keywords: Leonardo’s library, sources, literature, Renaissance, early modern, Aesop, Pliny, mechanics, art and science, word and image, nature, technology, material culture.
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