Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Scholars Link da Vinci to Chess Diagrams

Back in January 2007 I wrote about the (re)discovery of an early sixteenth-century treatise on chess, De Ludo Scacchorum ("On the Game of Chess"), by mathematician Luca Pacioli. The 48-page treatise, long thought lost, was found by a bookseller among the books of the last count of Coronini in the library of the Palazzo Coronini Cronberg (Gorizzia), who had apparently acquired the manuscript in the 1960s.

Now, an Italian architect/sculptor who's studied the text says he believes that the distinctive illustrations in De Ludo Scacchorum are the product of Leonardo da Vinci, who was known as a friend of the author and illustrated another of his books: De Divina Proportione, ("On the Golden Mean"). Franco Rocco has linked the symbol used to represent the queen in De Ludo Scacchorum to a da Vinci drawing of a fountain in the Atlantic Codex, and "also discovered that the proportion of the pieces, and especially the pawns, coincides with the Golden Mean."

Scholars at the Armand Hammer Centre for Leonardo Studies (Los Angeles) have been invited to undertake a second, independent analysis of the illustrations, according to British media reports.

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