If you want to avoid spoilers for Starz’s upcoming art historical adventure series “Da Vinci’s Demons,” we’d recommend not attempting to decipher Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks, some of which the British Library has just digitized and made available online. The beautiful, hand-written, and sketch-filled notebook pages feature the artist and inventor’s famous left-handed mirror-writing, and comprise some 570 images.
The notebook was assembled posthumously, hence its discontinuous content. It was most likely taken to Britain by Earl of Arundel, a close friend of Charles I, in the 17th-century, the Guardian reports. Though intrepid readers may heed the impulse to grab a mirror and piece together the centuries-old text, the rest of us can certainly appreciate it on strictly visual terms, for its elegant sketches, obsessive doodles, and pretty script.
The da Vinci notebook — the latest artist diary to be made available online since the Keith Haring journals started being posted on Tumblr last year — joins several other digitized gems on the British Library website, including the illustrated original version of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice,” the notebooks of artist and poet William Blake, and the Lindisfarne Gospels illuminated manuscript from 700 CE.
— Benjamin Sutton
(Image via the British Library’s Digitised Manuscripts section.)