The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci/XIII
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XIII. Theoretical writings on Architecture.
Leonardo's original writings on the theory of Architecture have come down to us only in a fragmentary state; still, there seems to be no doubt that he himself did not complete them. It would seem that Leonardo entertained the idea of writing a large and connected book on Architecture; and it is quite evident that the materials we possess, which can be proved to have been written at different periods, were noted down with a more or less definite aim and purpose. They might all be collected under the one title: "Studies on the Strength of Materials". Among them the investigations on the subject of fissures in walls are particularly thorough, and very fully reported; these passages are also especially interesting, because Leonardo was certainly the first writer on architecture who ever treated the subject at all. Here, as in all other cases Leonardo carefully avoids all abstract argument. His data are not derived from the principles of algebra, but from the laws of mechanics, and his method throughout is strictly experimental.
Though the conclusions drawn from his investigations may not have that precision which we are accustomed to find in Leonardo's scientific labours, their interest is not lessened. They prove at any rate his deep sagacity and wonderfully clear mind. No one perhaps, who has studied these questions since Leonardo, has combined with a scientific mind anything like the artistic delicacy of perception which gives interest and lucidity to his observations.
I do not assert that the arrangement here adopted for the passages in question is that originally intended by Leonardo; but their distribution into five groups was suggested by the titles, or headings, which Leonardo himself prefixed to most of these notes. Some of the longer sections perhaps should not, to be in strict agreement with this division, have been reproduced in their entirety in the place where they occur. But the comparatively small amount of the materials we possess will render them, even so, sufficiently intelligible to the reader; it did not therefore seem necessary or desirable to subdivide the passages merely for the sake of strict classification._
_The small number of chapters given under the fifth class, treating on the centre of gravity in roof-beams, bears no proportion to the number of drawings and studies which refer to the same subject. Only a small selection of these are reproduced in this work since the majority have no explanatory text._
ON FISSURES IN WALLS.
First write the treatise on the causes of the giving way of walls and then, separately, treat of the remedies.
Parallel fissures constantly occur in buildings which are erected on a hill side, when the hill is composed of stratified rocks with an oblique stratification, because water and other moisture often penetrates these oblique seams carrying in greasy and slippery soil; and as the strata are not continuous down to the bottom of the valley, the rocks slide in the direction of the slope, and the motion does not cease till they have reached the bottom of the valley, carrying with them, as though in a boat, that portion of the building which is separated by them from the rest. The remedy for this is always to build thick piers under the wall which is slipping, with arches from one to another, and with a good scarp and let the piers have a firm foundation in the strata so that they may not break away from them.
In order to find the solid part of these strata, it is necessary to make a shaft at the foot of the wall of great depth through the strata; and in this shaft, on the side from which the hill slopes, smooth and flatten a space one palm wide from the top to the bottom; and after some time this smooth portion made on the side of the shaft, will show plainly which part of the hill is moving.
[Footnote: See Pl. CIV.]
The cracks in walls will never be parallel unless the part of the wall that separates from the remainder does not slip down.
WHAT IS THE LAW BY WHICH BUILDINGS HAVE STABILITY.
The stability of buildings is the result of the contrary law to the two former cases. That is to say that the walls must be all built up equally, and by degrees, to equal heights all round the building, and the whole thickness at once, whatever kind of walls they may be. And although a thin wall dries more quickly than a thick one it will not necessarily give way under the added weight day by day and thus,  although a thin wall dries more quickly than a thick one, it will not give way under the weight which the latter may acquire from day to day. Because if double the amount of it dries in one day, one of double the thickness will dry in two days or thereabouts; thus the small addition of weight will be balanced by the smaller difference of time .
The adversary says that _a_ which projects, slips down.
And here the adversary says that _r_ slips and not _c_.
HOW TO PROGNOSTICATE THE CAUSES OF CRACKS IN ANY SORT OF WALL.
The part of the wall which does not slip is that in which the obliquity projects and overhangs the portion which has parted from it and slipped down.
ON THE SITUATION OF FOUNDATIONS AND IN WHAT PLACES THEY ARE A CAUSE OF RUIN.
When the crevice in the wall is wider at the top than at the bottom, it is a manifest sign, that the cause of the fissure in the wall is remote from the perpendicular line through the crevice.
[Footnote: Lines 1-5 refer to Pl. CV, No. 2. Line 9 _alle due anteciedete_, see on the same page.
Lines 16-18. The translation of this is doubtful, and the meaning in any case very obscure.
Lines 19-23 are on the right hand margin close to the two sketches on Pl. CII, No. 3.]
OF CRACKS IN WALLS, WHICH ARE WIDE AT THE BOTTOM AND NARROW AT THE TOP AND OF THEIR CAUSES.
That wall which does not dry uniformly in an equal time, always cracks.
A wall though of equal thickness will not dry with equal quickness if it is not everywhere in contact with the same medium. Thus, if one side of a wall were in contact with a damp slope and the other were in contact with the air, then this latter side would remain of the same size as before; that side which dries in the air will shrink or diminish and the side which is kept damp will not dry. And the dry portion will break away readily from the damp portion because the damp part not shrinking in the same proportion does not cohere and follow the movement of the part which dries continuously.
OF ARCHED CRACKS, WIDE AT THE TOP, AND NARROW BELOW.
Arched cracks, wide at the top and narrow below are found in walled-up doors, which shrink more in their height than in their breadth, and in proportion as their height is greater than their width, and as the joints of the mortar are more numerous in the height than in the width.
The crack diminishes less in _r o_ than in _m n_, in proportion as there is less material between _r_ and _o_ than between _n_ and _m_.
Any crack made in a concave wall is wide below and narrow at the top; and this originates, as is here shown at _b c d_, in the side figure.
1. That which gets wet increases in proportion to the moisture it imbibes.
2. And a wet object shrinks, while drying, in proportion to the amount of moisture which evaporates from it.
[Footnote: The text of this passage is reproduced in facsimile on Pl. CVI to the left. L. 36-40 are written inside the sketch No. 2. L. 41-46 are partly written over the sketch No. 3 to which they refer.]
OF THE CAUSES OF FISSURES IN [THE WALLS OF] PUBLIC AND PRIVATE BUILDINGS.
The walls give way in cracks, some of which are more or less vertical and others are oblique. The cracks which are in a vertical direction are caused by the joining of new walls, with old walls, whether straight or with indentations fitting on to those of the old wall; for, as these indentations cannot bear the too great weight of the wall added on to them, it is inevitable that they should break, and give way to the settling of the new wall, which will shrink one braccia in every ten, more or less, according to the greater or smaller quantity of mortar used between the stones of the masonry, and whether this mortar is more or less liquid. And observe, that the walls should always be built first and then faced with the stones intended to face them. For, if you do not proceed thus, since the wall settles more than the stone facing, the projections left on the sides of the wall must inevitably give way; because the stones used for facing the wall being larger than those over which they are laid, they will necessarily have less mortar laid between the joints, and consequently they settle less; and this cannot happen if the facing is added after the wall is dry.
_a b_ the new wall, _c_ the old wall, which has already settled; and the part _a b_ settles afterwards, although _a_, being founded on _c_, the old wall, cannot possibly break, having a stable foundation on the old wall. But only the remainder _b_ of the new wall will break away, because it is built from top to bottom of the building; and the remainder of the new wall will overhang the gap above the wall that has sunk.
A new tower founded partly on old masonry.
OF STONES WHICH DISJOIN THEMSELVES FROM THEIR MORTAR.
Stones laid in regular courses from bottom to top and built up with an equal quantity of mortar settle equally throughout, when the moisture that made the mortar soft evaporates.
By what is said above it is proved that the small extent of the new wall between _A_ and _n_ will settle but little, in proportion to the extent of the same wall between _c_ and _d_. The proportion will in fact be that of the thinness of the mortar in relation to the number of courses or to the quantity of mortar laid between the stones above the different levels of the old wall.
[Footnote: See Pl. CV, No. 1. The top of the tower is wanting in this reproduction, and with it the letter _n_ which, in the original, stands above the letter _A_ over the top of the tower, while _c_ stands perpendicularly over _d_.]
This wall will break under the arch _e f_, because the seven whole square bricks are not sufficient to sustain the spring of the arch placed on them. And these seven bricks will give way in their middle exactly as appears in _a b_. The reason is, that the brick _a_ has above it only the weight _a k_, whilst the last brick under the arch has above it the weight _c d x a_.
_c d_ seems to press on the arch towards the abutment at the point _p_ but the weight _p o_ opposes resistence to it, whence the whole pressure is transmitted to the root of the arch. Therefore the foot of the arch acts like 7 6, which is more than double of _x z_.
ON FISSURES IN NICHES.
ON FISSURES IN NICHES.
An arch constructed on a semicircle and bearing weights on the two opposite thirds of its curve will give way at five points of the curve. To prove this let the weights be at _n m_ which will break the arch _a_, _b_, _f_. I say that, by the foregoing, as the extremities _c_ and _a_ are equally pressed upon by the thrust _n_, it follows, by the 5th, that the arch will give way at the point which is furthest from the two forces acting on them and that is the middle _e_. The same is to be understood of the opposite curve, _d g b_; hence the weights _n m_ must sink, but they cannot sink by the 7th, without coming closer together, and they cannot come together unless the extremities of the arch between them come closer, and if these draw together the crown of the arch must break; and thus the arch will give way in two places as was at first said &c.
I ask, given a weight at _a_ what counteracts it in the direction _n_ _f_ and by what weight must the weight at _f_ be counteracted.
ON THE SHRINKING OF DAMP BODIES OF DIFFERENT THICKNESS AND WIDTH.
The window _a_ is the cause of the crack at _b_; and this crack is increased by the pressure of _n_ and _m_ which sink or penetrate into the soil in which foundations are built more than the lighter portion at _b_. Besides, the old foundation under _b_ has already settled, and this the piers _n_ and _m_ have not yet done. Hence the part _b_ does not settle down perpendicularly; on the contrary, it is thrown outwards obliquely, and it cannot on the contrary be thrown inwards, because a portion like this, separated from the main wall, is larger outside than inside and the main wall, where it is broken, is of the same shape and is also larger outside than inside; therefore, if this separate portion were to fall inwards the larger would have to pass through the smaller--which is impossible. Hence it is evident that the portion of the semicircular wall when disunited from the main wall will be thrust outwards, and not inwards as the adversary says.
When a dome or a half-dome is crushed from above by an excess of weight the vault will give way, forming a crack which diminishes towards the top and is wide below, narrow on the inner side and wide outside; as is the case with the outer husk of a pomegranate, divided into many parts lengthwise; for the more it is pressed in the direction of its length, that part of the joints will open most, which is most distant from the cause of the pressure; and for that reason the arches of the vaults of any apse should never be more loaded than the arches of the principal building. Because that which weighs most, presses most on the parts below, and they sink into the foundations; but this cannot happen to lighter structures like the said apses.
[Footnote: The figure on Pl. CV, No. 4 belongs to the first paragraph of this passage, lines 1-14; fig. 5 is sketched by the side of lines l5--and following. The sketch below of a pomegranate refers to line 22. The drawing fig. 6 is, in the original, over line 37 and fig. 7 over line 54.]
Which of these two cubes will shrink the more uniformly: the cube _A_ resting on the pavement, or the cube _b_ suspended in the air, when both cubes are equal in weight and bulk, and of clay mixed with equal quantities of water?
The cube placed on the pavement diminishes more in height than in breadth, which the cube above, hanging in the air, cannot do. Thus it is proved. The cube shown above is better shown here below.
The final result of the two cylinders of damp clay that is _a_ and _b_ will be the pyramidal figures below _c_ and _d_. This is proved thus: The cylinder _a_ resting on block of stone being made of clay mixed with a great deal of water will sink by its weight, which presses on its base, and in proportion as it settles and spreads all the parts will be somewhat nearer to the base because that is charged with the whole weight.
ON THE NATURE OF THE ARCH.
WHAT IS AN ARCH?
The arch is nothing else than a force originated by two weaknesses, for the arch in buildings is composed of two segments of a circle, each of which being very weak in itself tends to fall; but as each opposes this tendency in the other, the two weaknesses combine to form one strength.
OF THE KIND OF PRESSURE IN ARCHES.
As the arch is a composite force it remains in equilibrium because the thrust is equal from both sides; and if one of the segments weighs more than the other the stability is lost, because the greater pressure will outweigh the lesser.
OF DISTRIBUTING THE PRESSURE ABOVE AN ARCH.
Next to giving the segments of the circle equal weight it is necessary to load them equally, or you will fall into the same defect as before.
WHERE AN ARCH BREAKS.
An arch breaks at the part which lies below half way from the centre.
SECOND RUPTURE OF THE ARCH.
If the excess of weight be placed in the middle of the arch at the point _a_, that weight tends to fall towards _b_, and the arch breaks at 2/3 of its height at _c e_; and _g e_ is as many times stronger than _e a_, as _m o_ goes into _m n_.
ON ANOTHER CAUSE OF RUIN.
The arch will likewise give way under a transversal thrust, for when the charge is not thrown directly on the foot of the arch, the arch lasts but a short time.
ON THE STRENGTH OF THE ARCH.
The way to give stability to the arch is to fill the spandrils with good masonry up to the level of its summit.
ON THE LOADING OF ROUND ARCHES.
ON THE PROPER MANNER OF LOADING THE POINTED ARCH.
ON THE EVIL EFFECTS OF LOADING THE POINTED ARCH DIRECTLY ABOVE ITS CROWN.
ON THE DAMAGE DONE TO THE POINTED ARCH BY THROWING THE PRESSURE ON THE FLANKS.
An arch of small curve is safe in itself, but if it be heavily charged, it is necessary to strengthen the flanks well. An arch of a very large curve is weak in itself, and stronger if it be charged, and will do little harm to its abutments, and its places of giving way are _o p_.
[Footnote: Inside the large figure on the righi is the note: _Da pesare la forza dell' archo_.]
ON THE REMEDY FOR EARTHQUAKES.
The arch which throws its pressure perpendicularly on the abutments will fulfil its function whatever be its direction, upside down, sideways or upright.
The arch will not break if the chord of the outer arch does not touch the inner arch. This is manifest by experience, because whenever the chord _a o n_ of the outer arch _n r a_ approaches the inner arch _x b y_ the arch will be weak, and it will be weaker in proportion as the inner arch passes beyond that chord. When an arch is loaded only on one side the thrust will press on the top of the other side and be transmitted to the spring of the arch on that side; and it will break at a point half way between its two extremes, where it is farthest from the chord.
A continuous body which has been forcibly bent into an arch, thrusts in the direction of the straight line, which it tends to recover.
In an arch judiciously weighted the thrust is oblique, so that the triangle _c n b_ has no weight upon it.
I here ask what weight will be needed to counterpoise and resist the tendency of each of these arches to give way?
[Footnote: The two lower sketches are taken from the MS. S. K. M. III, 10a; they have there no explanatory text.]
ON THE STRENGTH OF THE ARCH IN ARCHITECTURE.
The stability of the arch built by an architect resides in the tie and in the flanks.
ON THE POSITION OF THE TIE IN THE ABOVE NAMED ARCH.
The position of the tie is of the same importance at the beginning of the arch and at the top of the perpendicular pier on which it rests. This is proved by the 2nd "of supports" which says: that part of a support has least resistance which is farthest from its solid attachment; hence, as the top of the pier is farthest from the middle of its true foundation and the same being the case at the opposite extremities of the arch which are the points farthest from the middle, which is really its [upper] attachment, we have concluded that the tie _a b_ requires to be in such a position as that its opposite ends are between the four above-mentioned extremes.
The adversary says that this arch must be more than half a circle, and that then it will not need a tie, because then the ends will not thrust outwards but inwards, as is seen in the excess at _a c_, _b d_. To this it must be answered that this would be a very poor device, for three reasons. The first refers to the strength of the arch, since it is proved that the circular parallel being composed of two semicircles will only break where these semicircles cross each other, as is seen in the figure _n m;_ besides this it follows that there is a wider space between the extremes of the semicircle than between the plane of the walls; the third reason is that the weight placed to counterbalance the strength of the arch diminishes in proportion as the piers of the arch are wider than the space between the piers. Fourthly in proportion as the parts at _c a b d_ turn outwards, the piers are weaker to support the arch above them. The 5th is that all the material and weight of the arch which are in excess of the semicircle are useless and indeed mischievous; and here it is to be noted that the weight placed above the arch will be more likely to break the arch at _a b_, where the curve of the excess begins that is added to the semicircle, than if the pier were straight up to its junction with the semicircle [spring of the arch].
AN ARCH LOADED OVER THE CROWN WILL GIVE WAY AT THE LEFT HAND AND RIGHT HAND QUARTERS.
This is proved by the 7th of this which says: The opposite ends of the support are equally pressed upon by the weight suspended to them; hence the weight shown at _f_ is felt at _b c_, that is half at each extremity; and by the third which says: in a support of equal strength [throughout] that portion will give way soonest which is farthest from its attachment; whence it follows that _d_ being equally distant from _f, e_ .....
If the centering of the arch does not settle as the arch settles, the mortar, as it dries, will shrink and detach itself from the bricks between which it was laid to keep them together; and as it thus leaves them disjoined the vault will remain loosely built, and the rains will soon destroy it.
ON THE STRENGTH AND NATURE OF ARCHES, AND WHERE THEY ARE STRONG OR WEAK; AND THE SAME AS TO COLUMNS.
That part of the arch which is nearer to the horizontal offers least resistance to the weight placed on it.
When the triangle _a z n_, by settling, drives backwards the 2/3 of each 1/2 circle that is _a s_ and in the same way _z m_, the reason is that _a_ is perpendicularly over _b_ and so likewise _z_ is above _f_.
Either half of an arch, if overweighted, will break at 2/3 of its height, the point which corresponds to the perpendicular line above the middle of its bases, as is seen at _a b_; and this happens because the weight tends to fall past the point _r_.--And if, against its nature it should tend to fall towards the point _s_ the arch _n s_ would break precisely in its middle. If the arch _n s_ were of a single piece of timber, if the weight placed at _n_ should tend to fall in the line _n m_, the arch would break in the middle of the arch _e m_, otherwise it will break at one third from the top at the point a because from _a_ to _n_ the arch is nearer to the horizontal than from _a_ to _o_ and from _o_ to _s_, in proportion as _p t_ is greater than _t n_, _a o_ will be stronger than _a n_ and likewise in proportion as _s o_ is stronger than _o a_, _r p_ will be greater than _p t_.
The arch which is doubled to four times of its thickness will bear four times the weight that the single arch could carry, and more in proportion as the diameter of its thickness goes a smaller number of times into its length. That is to say that if the thickness of the single arch goes ten times into its length, the thickness of the doubled arch will go five times into its length. Hence as the thickness of the double arch goes only half as many times into its length as that of the single arch does, it is reasonable that it should carry half as much more weight as it would have to carry if it were in direct proportion to the single arch. Hence as this double arch has 4 times the thickness of the single arch, it would seem that it ought to bear 4 times the weight; but by the above rule it is shown that it will bear exactly 8 times as much.
THAT PIER, WHICH is CHARGED MOST UNEQUALLY, WILL SOONEST GIVE WAY.
The column _c b_, being charged with an equal weight, [on each side] will be most durable, and the other two outward columns require on the part outside of their centre as much pressure as there is inside of their centre, that is, from the centre of the column, towards the middle of the arch.
Arches which depend on chains for their support will not be very durable.
THAT ARCH WILL BE OF LONGER DURATION WHICH HAS A GOOD ABUTMENT OPPOSED TO ITS THRUST.
The arch itself tends to fall. If the arch be 30 braccia and the interval between the walls which carry it be 20, we know that 30 cannot pass through the 20 unless 20 becomes likewise 30. Hence the arch being crushed by the excess of weight, and the walls offering insufficient resistance, part, and afford room between them, for the fall of the arch.
But if you do not wish to strengthen the arch with an iron tie you must give it such abutments as can resist the thrust; and you can do this thus: fill up the spandrels _m n_ with stones, and direct the lines of the joints between them to the centre of the circle of the arch, and the reason why this makes the arch durable is this. We know very well that if the arch is loaded with an excess of weight above its quarter as _a b_, the wall _f g_ will be thrust outwards because the arch would yield in that direction; if the other quarter _b c_ were loaded, the wall _f g_ would be thrust inwards, if it were not for the line of stones _x y_ which resists this.
Here it is shown how the arches made in the side of the octagon thrust the piers of the angles outwards, as is shown by the line _h c_ and by the line _t d_ which thrust out the pier _m_; that is they tend to force it away from the centre of such an octagon.
An Experiment to show that a weight placed on an arch does not discharge itself entirely on its columns; on the contrary the greater the weight placed on the arches, the less the arch transmits the weight to the columns. The experiment is the following. Let a man be placed on a steel yard in the middle of the shaft of a well, then let him spread out his hands and feet between the walls of the well, and you will see him weigh much less on the steel yard; give him a weight on the shoulders, you will see by experiment, that the greater the weight you give him the greater effort he will make in spreading his arms and legs, and in pressing against the wall and the less weight will be thrown on the steel yard.
ON FOUNDATIONS, THE NATURE OF THE GROUND AND SUPPORTS.
The first and most important thing is stability.
As to the foundations of the component parts of temples and other public buildings, the depths of the foundations must bear the same proportions to each other as the weight of material which is to be placed upon them.
Every part of the depth of earth in a given space is composed of layers, and each layer is composed of heavier or lighter materials, the lowest being the heaviest. And this can be proved, because these layers have been formed by the sediment from water carried down to the sea, by the current of rivers which flow into it. The heaviest part of this sediment was that which was first thrown down, and so on by degrees; and this is the action of water when it becomes stagnant, having first brought down the mud whence it first flowed. And such layers of soil are seen in the banks of rivers, where their constant flow has cut through them and divided one slope from the other to a great depth; where in gravelly strata the waters have run off, the materials have, in consequence, dried and been converted into hard stone, and this happened most in what was the finest mud; whence we conclude that every portion of the surface of the earth was once at the centre of the earth, and _vice_versa_ &c.
The heaviest part of the foundations of buildings settles most, and leaves the lighter part above it separated from it.
And the soil which is most pressed, if it be porous yields most.
You should always make the foundations project equally beyond the weight of the walls and piers, as shown at _m a b_. If you do as many do, that is to say if you make a foundation of equal width from the bottom up to the surface of the ground, and charge it above with unequal weights, as shown at _b e_ and at _e o_, at the part of the foundation at _b e_, the pier of the angle will weigh most and thrust its foundation downwards, which the wall at _e o_ will not do; since it does not cover the whole of its foundation, and therefore thrusts less heavily and settles less. Hence, the pier _b e_ in settling cracks and parts from the wall _e o_. This may be seen in most buildings which are cracked round the piers.
The window _a_ is well placed under the window _c_, and the window _b_ is badly placed under the pier _d_, because this latter is without support and foundation; mind therefore never to make a break under the piers between the windows.
OF THE SUPPORTS.
A pillar of which the thickness is increased will gain more than its due strength, in direct proportion to what its loses in relative height.
If a pillar should be nine times as high as it is broad--that is to say, if it is one braccio thick, according to rule it should be nine braccia high--then, if you place 100 such pillars together in a mass this will be ten braccia broad and 9 high; and if the first pillar could carry 10000 pounds the second being only about as high as it is wide, and thus lacking 8 parts of its proper length, it, that is to say, each pillar thus united, will bear eight times more than when disconnected; that is to say, that if at first it would carry ten thousand pounds, it would now carry 90 thousand.
ON THE RESISTANCE OF BEAMS.
That angle will offer the greatest resistance which is most acute, and the most obtuse will be the weakest.
[Footnote: The three smaller sketches accompany the text in the original, but the larger one is not directly connected with it. It is to be found on fol. 89a of the same Manuscript and there we read in a note, written underneath, _coverchio della perdicha del castello_ (roof of the flagstaff of the castle),--Compare also Pl. XCIII, No. 1.]
If the beams and the weight _o_ are 100 pounds, how much weight will be wanted at _ae_ to resist such a weight, that it may not fall down?
ON THE LENGTH OF BEAMS.
That beam which is more than 20 times as long as its greatest thickness will be of brief duration and will break in half; and remember, that the part built into the wall should be steeped in hot pitch and filleted with oak boards likewise so steeped. Each beam must pass through its walls and be secured beyond the walls with sufficient chaining, because in consequence of earthquakes the beams are often seen to come out of the walls and bring down the walls and floors; whilst if they are chained they will hold the walls strongly together and the walls will hold the floors. Again I remind you never to put plaster over timber. Since by expansion and shrinking of the timber produced by damp and dryness such floors often crack, and once cracked their divisions gradually produce dust and an ugly effect. Again remember not to lay a floor on beams supported on arches; for, in time the floor which is made on beams settles somewhat in the middle while that part of the floor which rests on the arches remains in its place; hence, floors laid over two kinds of supports look, in time, as if they were made in hills [Footnote: 19 M. RAVAISSON, in his edition of MS. A gives a very different rendering of this passage translating it thus: _Les planchers qui sont soutenus par deux differentes natures de supports paraissent avec le temps faits en voute a cholli_.]
Remarks on the style of Leonardo's architecture.
A few remarks may here be added on the style of Leonardo's architectural studies. However incomplete, however small in scale, they allow us to establish a certain number of facts and probabilities, well worthy of consideration.
When Leonardo began his studies the great name of Brunellesco was still the inspiration of all Florence, and we cannot doubt that Leonardo was open to it, since we find among his sketches the plan of the church of Santo Spirito[Footnote 1: See Pl. XCIV, No. 2. Then only in course of erection after the designs of Brunellesco, though he was already dead; finished in 1481.] and a lateral view of San Lorenzo (Pl. XCIV No. 1), a plan almost identical with the chapel Degli Angeli, only begun by him (Pl. XCIV, No. 3) while among Leonardo's designs for domes several clearly betray the influence of Brunellesco's Cupola and the lantern of Santa Maria del Fiore[Footnote 2: A small sketch of the tower of the Palazzo della Signoria (MS. C.A. 309) proves that he also studied mediaeval monuments.]
The beginning of the second period of modern Italian architecture falls during the first twenty years of Leonardo's life. However the new impetus given by Leon Battista Alberti either was not generally understood by his contemporaries, or those who appreciated it, had no opportunity of showing that they did so. It was only when taken up by Bramante and developed by him to the highest rank of modern architecture that this new influence was generally felt. Now the peculiar feature of Leonardo's sketches is that, like the works of Bramante, they appear to be the development and continuation of Alberti's.
_But a question here occurs which is difficult to answer. Did Leonardo, till he quitted Florence, follow the direction given by the dominant school of Brunellesco, which would then have given rise to his "First manner", or had he, even before he left Florence, felt Alberti's influence--either through his works (Palazzo Ruccellai, and the front of Santa Maria Novella) or through personal intercourse? Or was it not till he went to Milan that Alberti's work began to impress him through Bramante, who probably had known Alberti at Mantua about 1470 and who not only carried out Alberti's views and ideas, but, by his designs for St. Peter's at Rome, proved himself the greatest of modern architects. When Leonardo went to Milan Bramante had already been living there for many years. One of his earliest works in Milan was the church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro, Via del Falcone[Footnote 1: Evidence of this I intend to give later on in a Life of Bramante, which I have in preparation.].
Now we find among Leonardos studies of Cupolas on Plates LXXXIV and LXXXV and in Pl. LXXX several sketches which seem to me to have been suggested by Bramante's dome of this church.
The MSS. B and Ash. II contain the plans of S. Sepolcro, the pavilion in the garden of the duke of Milan, and two churches, evidently inspired by the church of San Lorenzo at Milan.
MS. B. contains besides two notes relating to Pavia, one of them a design for the sacristy of the Cathedral at Pavia, which cannot be supposed to be dated later than 1492, and it has probably some relation to Leonardo's call to Pavia June 21, 1490[Footnote 2: The sketch of the plan of Brunellesco's church of Santo Spirito at Florence, which occurs in the same Manuscript, may have been done from memory.]. These and other considerations justify us in concluding, that Leonardo made his studies of cupolas at Milan, probably between the years 1487 and 1492 in anticipation of the erection of one of the grandest churches of Italy, the Cathedral of Pavia. This may explain the decidedly Lombardo-Bramantesque tendency in the style of these studies, among which only a few remind us of the forms of the cupolas of S. Maria del Fiore and of the Baptistery of Florence. Thus, although when compared with Bramante's work, several of these sketches plainly reveal that master's influence, we find, among the sketches of domes, some, which show already Bramante's classic style, of which the Tempietto of San Pietro in Montorio, his first building executed at Rome, is the foremost example[Footnote 3: It may be mentioned here, that in 1494 Bramante made a similar design for the lantern of the Cupola of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.].
On Plate LXXXIV is a sketch of the plan of a similar circular building; and the Mausoleum on Pl. XCVIII, no less than one of the pedestals for the statue of Francesco Sforza (Pl. LXV), is of the same type.
The drawings Pl. LXXXIV No. 2, Pl. LXXXVI No. 1 and 2 and the ground flour ("flour" sic but should be "floor" ?) of the building in the drawing Pl. XCI No. 2, with the interesting decoration by gigantic statues in large niches, are also, I believe, more in the style Bramante adopted at Rome, than in the Lombard style. Are we to conclude from this that Leonardo on his part influenced Bramante in the sense of simplifying his style and rendering it more congenial to antique art? The answer to this important question seems at first difficult to give, for we are here in presence of Bramante, the greatest of modern architects, and with Leonardo, the man comparable with no other. We have no knowledge of any buildings erected by Leonardo, and unless we admit personal intercourse--which seems probable, but of which there is no proof--, it would be difficult to understand how Leonardo could have affected Bramante's style. The converse is more easily to be admitted, since Bramante, as we have proved elsewhere, drew and built simultaneously in different manners, and though in Lombardy there is no building by him in his classic style, the use of brick for building, in that part of Italy, may easily account for it._
_Bramante's name is incidentally mentioned in Leonardo's manuscripts in two passages (Nos. 1414 and 1448). On each occasion it is only a slight passing allusion, and the nature of the context gives us no due information as to any close connection between the two artists._
_It might be supposed, on the ground of Leonardo's relations with the East given in sections XVII and XXI of this volume, that some evidence of oriental influence might be detected in his architectural drawings. I do not however think that any such traces can be pointed out with certainty unless perhaps the drawing for a Mausoleum, Pl. XC VIII._
_Among several studies for the construction of cupolas above a Greek cross there are some in which the forms are decidedly monotonous. These, it is clear, were not designed as models of taste; they must be regarded as the results of certain investigations into the laws of proportion, harmony and contrast._
_The designs for churches, on the plan of a Latin cross are evidently intended to depart as little as possible from the form of a Greek cross; and they also show a preference for a nave surrounded with outer porticos._
_The architectural forms preferred by Leonardo are pilasters coupled (Pl. LXXXII No. 1; or grouped (Pl. LXXX No. 5 and XCIV No. 4), often combined with niches. We often meet with orders superposed, one in each story, or two small orders on one story, in combination with one great order (Pl. XCVI No. 2)._
The drum (tamburo) of these cupolas is generally octagonal, as in the cathedral of Florence, and with similar round windows in its sides. In Pl. LXXXVII No. 2 it is circular like the model actually carried out by Michael Angelo at St. Peter's.
The cupola itself is either hidden under a pyramidal roof, as in the Baptistery of Florence, San Lorenzo of Milan and most of the Lombard churches (Pl. XCI No. 1 and Pl. XCII No. 1); but it more generally suggests the curve of Sta Maria del Fiore (Pl. LXXXVIII No. 5; Pl. XC No. 2; Pl. LXXXIX, M; Pl XC No. 4, Pl. XCVI No. 2). In other cases (Pl. LXXX No. 4; Pl. LXXXIX; Pl. XC No. 2) it shows the sides of the octagon crowned by semicircular pediments, as in Brunellesco's lantern of the Cathedral and in the model for the Cathedral of Pavia.
Finally, in some sketches the cupola is either semicircular, or as in Pl. LXXXVII No. 2, shows the beautiful line, adopted sixty years later by Michael Angelo for the existing dome of St. Peter's.
It is worth noticing that for all these domes Leonardo is not satisfied to decorate the exterior merely with ascending ribs or mouldings, but employs also a system of horizontal parallels to complete the architectural system. Not the least interesting are the designs for the tiburio (cupola) of the Milan Cathedral. They show some of the forms, just mentioned, adapted to the peculiar gothic style of that monument.
The few examples of interiors of churches recall the style employed in Lombardy by Bramante, for instance in S. Maria di Canepanuova at Pavia, or by Dolcebuono in the Monastero Maggiore at Milan (see Pl. CI No. 1 [C. A. 181b; 546b]; Pl. LXXXIV No. 10).
The few indications concerning palaces seem to prove that Leonardo followed Alberti's example of decorating the walls with pilasters and a flat rustica, either in stone or by graffitti (Pl. CII No. 1 and Pl. LXXXV No. 14).
By pointing out the analogies between Leonardo's architecture and that of other masters we in no way pretend to depreciate his individual and original inventive power. These are at all events beyond dispute. The project for the Mausoleum (Pl. XCVIII) would alone suffice to rank him among the greatest architects who ever lived. The peculiar shape of the tower (Pl. LXXX), of the churches for preaching (Pl. XCVII No. 1 and pages 56 and 57, Fig. 1-4), his curious plan for a city with high and low level streets (Pl. LXXVII and LXXVIII No. 2 and No. 3), his Loggia with fountains (Pl. LXXXII No. 4) reveal an originality, a power and facility of invention for almost any given problem, which are quite wonderful.
_In addition to all these qualities he propably stood alone in his day in one department of architectural study,--his investigations, namely, as to the resistance of vaults, foundations, walls and arches._
_As an application of these studies the plan of a semicircular vault (Pl. CIII No. 2) may be mentioned here, disposed so as to produce no thrust on the columns on which it rests:_ volta i botte e non ispignie ifori le colone. _Above the geometrical patterns on the same sheet, close to a circle inscribed in a square is the note:_ la ragio d'una volta cioe il terzo del diamitro della sua ... del tedesco in domo.
_There are few data by which to judge of Leonardo's style in the treatment of detail. On Pl. LXXXV No. 10 and Pl. CIII No. 3, we find some details of pillars; on Pl. CI No. 3 slender pillars designed for a fountain and on Pl. CIII No. 1 MS. B, is a pen and ink drawing of a vase which also seems intended for a fountain. Three handles seem to have been intended to connect the upper parts with the base. There can be no doubt that Leonardo, like Bramante, but unlike Michael Angelo, brought infinite delicacy of motive and execution to bear on the details of his work._