Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mold Destroying da Vinci Collection

The Codex Atlanticus, the largest collection of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings and compositions - bound in twelve volumes and housed at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan - has been heavily damaged by mold, The Times and AP both report today. The mold was first discovered in April 2006 by Met curator Carmen Bambach; a visit by four conservators from Italy's Opificio delle Pietre Dure, the Italian state conservation institute, confirmed the findings.

"Various types of mould, in colours ranging from black to red and purple, were identified on the drawings, which include sketches for some of Leonardo's most ingenious inventions." Lacking funds for full treatment, the team performed "minimum emergency restoration to try to limit the damage and prevent it getting worse." On Friday, a historian at the Ambrosiana told the press "We need to find sponsors to come forward to help pay for analysis to establish the necessary therapy, and then do the treatment."

One of the conservators said that the mold had taken hold "because the volumes were consulted by visiting scholars and exposed to the atmosphere and humidity."

"The Codex Atlanticus, so named because it was originally compiled as a single volume of miscellany comparable to an atlas, is the largest collection of Leonardo’s sheets. Formed at the end of the sixteenth century by the sculptor Pompeo Leoni, it is viewed by some scholars as a treasured but lamentable compilation, given that Leoni dismembered some of Leonardo’s notebooks to create it."