Insight into an exceptional mind

A manuscript by Leonardo Da Vince with indistinct sketches and writing.

Our exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion marked 500 years since Leonardo’s death and was generously supported by Italian design and luxury brand Automobili Pininfarina.

Three of Leonardo’s notebooks – the Codex Arundel, the Codex Forster and the Codex Leicester – were displayed together in the UK for the first time. They revealed his close observations of natural phenomena and how these studies informed his ability to portray human movement in the masterpieces for which he is known today.

Visitors to the exhibition were fascinated to see Leonardo’s famous mirror handwriting, as well as his intricate drawings on subjects from the motion of waves to the form of light and shadow.

Automobili Pininfarina connected Leonardo’s creative mind with their own expertise and innovation, and displayed their electric zero-emissions Battista hypercar on our piazza. The partnership was inspired by Leonardo’s combination of art, design and engineering, and the enduring relevance of his genius. We are very grateful for their support which allowed visitors a glimpse into the unique mind of this incredible artist.

Automobili car on the piazza of the British Library

“ Automobili Pininfarina celebrates the spirit of innovation and we are privileged to honour a true master... Leonardo was a true Italian genius, the first person to combine the disciplines of art, design and engineering – and from Leonardo in the 16th century to Pininfarina in 2019, these principles remain strong.”
Luca Borgogno
Design Director at Automobili Pininfarina


Find out how your support has made a difference

Your support

Find our how your support has made a difference.

Playing our part

The importance of our archives proved ever greater during lockdown.

Opening up access to early manuscripts

A generous donation from The Goldhammer Foundation allowed us to make discoveries.

Extending our national reach

Thanks to the Helen Hamlyn Trust, more people than ever can engage with precious items.

Expanding our cultural programme

Our exhibitions reflect the richness of our collection and indulge every curiosity.

Meet Lenore

Lenore England set up the ‘Patricia G. and Jonathan S. England – British Library Innovation Fund’ to support us.

Growing our collection

Securing knowledge and culture for future generations.

New Sound Gallery opens

The American Trust for the British Library generously funded a new free exhibition.

The next generation

Inspiring online learning with the launch of Discovering Children’s Books.

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