he monumental facsimile edition of the Codex Atlanticus, in twelve volumes in folio and twelve volumes of transcriptions (in Italian), is now supplemented by a two part catalogue by Carlo Pedretti - Director of the Armand Hammer Center for Leonardo Studies - UCLA. This is introduced by a detailed account of the history, composition and restoration of the codex, and by a concise assessment of the vastness, complexity and variety of its contents, which encompass the full range of Leonardo's active life for a period of over 40 years, from about 1478 to his death in 1519.
The emphasis throughout the catalogue is on problems of chronology and on that extraordinary aspect of scholarly detective work which consists of restoring the original order of Leonardo's papers which has become the specialty of Professor Pedretti's life long dedication to Leonardo's studies. In Lord Clark's prophetic statement of 1964, "Pedretti's writings have shown that by careful relation of neglected details, whole new aspects of Leonardo's life and work can be revealed". As early as 1958, in the June issue of The Burlington Magazine, Arthur Edward Popham, then keeper of prints and drawings at the British museum, wrote "Signor Pedretti's knowledge of Leonardo's manuscripts in general and the Codex Atlanticus in particular, is phenomenal ". Nearly forty years later, this catalogue provides the much needed key to an understanding of Leonardo's intentions through each of the thousands of sheets and fragments in the codex.
Each item is discussed in terms of contents, its relationship to notes and drawings in other sheets of the codex and other Leonardo notebooks, and thus in terms of its date and historical context, giving information as to sources and driving forces behind Leonardo's thoughts, as well as to the impact of Leonardo's innovative views and ideas in art, science and technology. Finally, each catalogue entry is given a full biographical apparatus, tracing every aspect of Leonardo's work and thought through the long and laborious exegesis contributed by scholars over the last two hundred years. This and concordances of computer-like accuracy, will make the majestic collection of Leonardo's papers in the Codex Atlanticus and imposing, inspiring and definitive tool for generations of scholars to come.
The work is published in two volumes (29.5 x 21cm), bound in grey cloth with gold impressions on the spine, with a dust cover. Volume I: 256 pages with text illustrations and 3 plates. Volume II: 320 pages with text illustrations and 10 plates, for a total of 1,119 catalogue entries. All text is in English.