Curated by P.C. Marani and Michael Eisenberg

Biblioteca Ambrosiana – Sacrestia del Bramante

March 11, 2014 – June 8, 2014


Pinacoteca Ambrosiana: Tue – Sun 10,00 – 18,00 (closed on December 25, January 1, Easter Day; open on Easter Monday)

Bramante Sacristy: Mon 09,30-13,00 and 14,00 – 18,00 / Tue – Sun 08,30 – 19,00 (closed on December 25, January 1 and from 12:00 on December 9 2013, March 10 and June 9 2014

For Leonardo da Vinci, music revealed the world of the unseen. Although Leonardo named music the younger sister to painting in his Treatise on painting, he frequently condescends to this sorella minore, resorting to musical analogies to elaborate on the transcendent qualities of painting. Indeed, it is in the Paragone where his celebrated metaphysical summation of music appears: “the figuring of invisible things.”  It is significant that the Renaissance polymath employed this particular description for music in his tribute to painting, since his drawings of acoustics and musical instruments most certainly give graphic expression to the invisible realm of sound.

Leonardo was intrigued with the auditory world and he demonstrated this fascination most prolifically in the Codex Atlanticus. The medium of sound served him as a critical tool for explicating natural phenomena in his analogies of media and the physical universe. But while the science of acoustics offered the Florentine genius theoretical frames for understanding the laws of nature, musical instruments presented him with the very tangible opportunity to grapple with specific acoustical, technological, and aesthetic dilemmas and to imagine new and hybridized strategies for sound production.

As usual, the exhibition is displayed two locations: the first section is exposed in the Federiciana Room of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, while the second can be seen in the Bramante Sacristy in the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.