Leonardo da Vinci

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Leonardo da Vinci
(1452–1519)

Two Designs for Machines: Maritime Assault Mechanism and a Device for Bending Beams

Inscribed by the artist in pen and brown ink, in mirror writing (right to left script), on recto above upper design, pie[na] di fieno bagniato; to left, Strume[n]to diurno / e da mare per i[s]calare / una to[r]re di sopra e se le / fu[s]sino due torri va per / tale linia che l'una fa– / cci scudo all'altra ma / fa che`l mare sia con tu– / tti i segni di tranquilita.

1487–90
Pen and brown ink, over black chalk
11 3/8 x 7 15/16 inches (284 x 201 mm)

Gift of Otto Manley

1986.50
Item description: 

During the Renaissance many artists produced designs for weaponry and defenses, a subject evidently of particular interest to Leonardo, by whom nearly four hundred drawings survive. As is revealed in his characteristic reverse writing, the upper sketch describes a device to scale a tower during a naval siege, and the lower details a mechanism to bend wooden beams.

The designs were likely executed during Leonardo's sojourn at the Sforza court in Milan, around 1487–90.