Facsimile of The Codex Leicester, a collection of Leonard da Vinci's writings and drawings.


Codex Leicester Display

Events across the country are marking the 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci. To commemorate, we will be telling the story of the Codex Leicester, a collection of some of Leonardo’s writings and drawings which was bought by Thomas Coke, the first Earl of Leicester, on his Grand Tour 300 years ago.

The Codex Leicester remained in the Holkham collection until death duties forced its sale in 1980. It has since been purchased by Bill Gates and been exhibited around the world, currently featuring in The British Library’s exhibition ‘Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion’.

Thomas had a copy of the manuscript made in Rome when he bought it, which is still in the Holkham library, and in 1909 a high quality photographic facsimile was produced.

Visit our display in the hall to discover how the Codex Leicester came to be made and how it relates to Leonardo’s wider world. We discuss what motivated Thomas Coke to purchase this important work and what it says about the man and his book collecting urge. A timeline takes us back to Leonardo’s birth and right up to date with Bill Gates’ agreement to loan the leaves to the British Library this summer. We also explain what a Codex is and show what Leonardo’s writing looked like the ‘right’ way around. As a bit of fun, you can also try your hand at ‘Leonardo-style’ mirror writing. Something you can take away to show your friends, be you young or old!

The display is in the Chapel Gallery of Holkham Hall and is included in standard admission. Available to view on hall open days: Sunday, Monday and Thursday to 31st October 2019.