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A Treatise On Painting, By Leonardo Da Vinci. Faithfully Translated From The Original Italian, And Now First Digested Under Proper Heads, By John Francis Rigaud, Esq. Academician Of The Royal Academy Of Painting At London, And Also Of The Academia Clementina At Bologna, And The Royal Academy At Stockholm. Illustrated with twenty-three Copper-plates, and other Figures. To Which Is Prefixed A New Life Of The Author, Drawn Up From Authentic Materials Till Now Inaccessible, By John Sidney Hawkins, Esq. F.A.S.

Leonardo da Vinci

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Uniform Title

[Trattato della pittura., English., Rigaud., 1802.]


London:: Printed For J. Taylor, At The Architectural Library, High Holborn., M. DCCC. II.

Physical Description

xcv, [i], 236, [2] p., frontis. (port.), 22 pl. [pl. 2 is folding]: illus.; 230 mm. (Octavo.)


[Half-t., frontis., t.p.] - Preface To The Present Translation - The Life Of Leonardo Da Vinci - Catalogue Of The Works Of Leonardo Da Vinci - [Text, with pl.] - Table Of Chapters - [Publisher's advertisement]; [colophon].

Responsibility Note

The frontispiece portrait is signed as engraved by T. Milton (or I. Milton?). The numbered plates are unsigned.

Each plate carries the publisher's imprint of J. Taylor, High Holborn.

The printer is named on the half-title verso and in the colophon: 'Printed by S. Gosnell, Little Queen Street, Holborn, London.'


C. Pedretti and C. Vecce, Leonardo da Vinci: Libro di pittura, 2 v. (1995); K.T. Steinitz, Leonardo da Vinci's 'Trattato della pittura': a bibliography (1958).
Farago, Claire (Ed), Re-Reading Leonard: the treatise on painting across Europe, 1550-1900. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009. ISBN: 9780754665328

Summary Note

The so-called Trattato della pittura of Leonardo is a sixteenth-century selection from his manuscripts, possibly compiled by Francesco Melzi. The text was first printed, in Italian and French, in 1651.

In these writings Leonardo addresses questions of light, colour, motion, gesture and botany, but discusses mathematics and perspective only cursorily, and anatomy not at all. In passages relating to the 'paragone' or comparison of the arts, he argues the superiority of painting to other arts.

The frontispiece shows a portrait of Leonardo. The twenty-two numbered plates show outline drawings of the human figure.


A preliminary leaf is inscribed in ink, 'For the Royal Academy of Arts Lond[on] J: F: Rigaud R:A'. Presented by Rigaud in 1802 (acknowledged RA Council Minutes III, 158).

Binding Note

19th-century calf, rebacked and recornered, gilt-decorated spine, lettered 'Da Vinci On Painting', 'R.A.' and '1802'.


Painting - Sculpture - Painting, European - Sculpture, European - Theory - Italy - History - 15th century - Renaissance - Sources
Treatises - Notes - Notebooks - Italy - 15th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 19th century


John Francis Rigaud RA, translator, previous owner, donor
John Sidney Hawkins
Josiah Taylor, publisher
Samuel Gosnell, printer
Thomas Milton, engraver
Architectural Library (London), publisher