Drawings of engineering themes
by LEONARDO da Vinci

Leonardo was associated with engineering projects in all his life. In 1482 he offered his abilities in a letter to Lodovico Sforza, in ten points he presented himself as a designer and inventor of war machines - of movable bridges, battering rams, scaling ladders, mines, explosive devices, cannon and guns, naval arms, tunnels, armoured vehicles, catapults, projectiles and other things - as well as an architect of public and private buildings and water pipes. In his final years in France he dealt with architectural projects as well as hydrological projects intended for several French rivers.

Leonardo dealt with themes that had been considered by engineers before him and usually also written about in treatises. Nonetheless, Leonardo the engineer remains an exciting figure, for his method of developing machines is one that can still be called exemplary today.

He made a systematic study of the flying movements of birds and investigated the anatomy of the wing. He also studied general forms of movement in nature and understood that motion was the result of force and counterforce. He studied the element of air, and conducted extensive studies of water. As a canal engineer, he built canals, bridges and locks and therefore had to understand the effects of forces such as whirlpools, surface eddies and rates of flow, as these had an effect on the direction of flow. Comparative phenomena can also be observed in the air. The science of winds, which Leonardo studied by observing water, helped him the understand air thermals.

Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Crossbow Machine
1480-82
Drawing
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

529*386
True Color
54 Kb



Giant Crossbow
1480-82
Drawing
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

541*398
True Color
55 Kb



Assault chariot with scythes
c. 1485
Silverpoint, pen and ink on paper, 210 x 292 mm
Biblioteca Reale, Turin

1060*770
True Color
148 Kb



Multi Barrel Gun
1480-82
Drawing
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

307*458
True Color
36 Kb



Siege Defenses
1480-82
Drawing
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

404*496
True Color
42 Kb



Siege Defenses
1480-82
Drawing
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

386*491
True Color
33 Kb



Cannon foundry
1487
Pen and ink on paper
Royal Library, Windsor

803*1037
True Color
170 Kb



Study of water
c. 1513
Pen and ink on paper, 154 x 216 mm
Royal Library, Windsor

701*991
True Color
91 Kb



Studies of water
1509-11
Pen and ink on paper, 290 x 202 mm
Royal Library, Windsor

701*1004
True Color
70 Kb



Drawings of Water Lifting Devices
1480-82
Drawing
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

503*448
True Color
50 Kb



Canal bridge
c. 1495
Pen and ink on paper, 27 x 20 cm
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

702*923
True Color
63 Kb



Flying machine
c. 1487
Metalpoint, pen and ink on paper, 235 x 176 mm
Institut de France, Paris

804*1125
True Color
145 Kb



Drawing of a flying machine
c. 1485
Pen and ink on paper, 23 x 16 cm
Bibliothиque de l'Institut de France, Paris

1122*604
True Color
88 Kb



Device for Making Sequins
1480-82
Drawing
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

559*433
True Color
39 Kb



Skis with which one can walk on water (detail)
c. 1480
Metalpoint, pen and ink on paper
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

690*876
True Color
54 Kb



Automobile
1478-80
Metalpoint, pen and brush on paper, 27 x 20 cm
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

753*1183
True Color
101 Kb



Spring Device
-
Manuscript
Museo del Prado, Madrid

440*457
True Color
42 Kb




Summary of works by Leonardo
Paintings
early work | in the 1480s | in the 1490s | late work | copies
Studies to paintings
Battle of Anghiari | studies (1) | studies (2) | heads | various
Other studies
anatomy | nature | engineering | maps | architecture | sculpture