Architectural Designs.

Twelve flights of steps led up to the great temple, which was eight hundred braccia in circumference and built on an octagonal plan. At the eight corners were eight large plinths, one braccia and a half high, and three wide, and six long at the bottom, with an angle in the middle; on these were eight great pillars, standing on the plinths as a foundation, and twenty four braccia high. And on the top of these were eight capitals three braccia long and six wide, above which were the architrave frieze and cornice, four braccia and a half high, and this was carried on in a straight line from one pillar to the next and so, continuing for eight hundred braccia, surrounded the whole temple, from pillar to pillar. To support this entablature there were ten large columns of the same height as the pillars, three braccia thick above their bases which were one braccia and a half high.

The ascent to this temple was by twelve flights of steps, and the temple was on the twelfth, of an octagonal form, and at each angle rose a large pillar; and between the pillars were placed ten columns of the same height as the pillars, rising at once from the pavement to a height of twenty eight braccia and a half; and at this height the architrave, frieze and cornice were placed which surrounded the temple having a length of eight hundred braccia. At the same height, and within the temple at the same level, and all round the centre of the temple at a distance of 24 braccia farther in, are pillars corresponding to the eight pillars in the angles, and columns corresponding to those placed in the outer spaces. These rise to the same height as the former ones, and over these the continuous architrave returns towards the outer row of pillars and columns.

[Footnote: Either this description is incomplete, or, as seems to me highly probable, it refers to some ruin. The enormous dimensions forbid our supposing this to be any temple in Italy or Greece. Syria was the native land of colossal octagonal buildings, in the early centuries A. D. The Temple of Baalbek, and others are even larger than that here described. J. P. R.]

V. Palace architecture.

But a small number of Leonardo’s drawings refer to the architecture of palaces, and our knowledge is small as to what style Leonardo might have adopted for such buildings.

Pl. CII No. 1 (W. XVIII). A small portion of a facade of a palace in two stories, somewhat resembling Alberti’s Palazzo Rucellai.—Compare with this Bramante’s painted front of the Casa Silvestri, and a painting by Montorfano in San Pietro in Gessate at Milan, third chapel on the left hand side and also with Bramante’s palaces at Rome. The pilasters with arabesques, the rustica between them, and the figures over the window may be painted or in sgraffito. The original is drawn in red chalk.

Pl. LXXXI No. 1 (MS. Tr. 42). Sketch of a palace with battlements and decorations, most likely graffiti; the details remind us of those in the Castello at Vigevano. [Footnote 1: Count GIULIO PORRO, in his valuable contribution to the Archivio Storico Lombardo, Anno VIII, Fasc. IV (31 Dec. 1881): Leonardo da Vinci, Libro di Annotazioni e Memorie, refers to this in the following note: “Alla pag. 41 vi e uno schizzo di volta ed accanto scrisse: ‘il pilastro sara charicho in su 6’ e potrebbe darsi che si riferisse alla cupola della chiesa delle Grazie tanto piu che a pag. 42 vi e un disegno che rassomiglia assai al basamento che oggi si vede nella parte esterna del coro di quella chiesa.” This may however be doubted. The drawing, here referred to, on page 41 of the same manuscript, is reproduced on Pl. C No. 4 and described on page 61 as being a study for the cupola of the Duomo of Milan. J. P. R.]

MS. Mz. 0″, contains a design for a palace or house with a loggia in the middle of the first story, over which rises an attic with a Pediment reproduced on page 67. The details drawn close by on the left seem to indicate an arrangement of coupled columns against the wall of a first story.

Pl. LXXXV No. 14 (MS. S. K. M. Ill 79a) contains a very slight sketch in red chalk, which most probably is intended to represent the facade of a palace. Inside is the short note 7 he 7 (7 and 7).

MS. J2 8a (see pages 68 Fig. 1 and 2) contains a view of an unknown palace. Its plan is indicated at the side.

In MS. Br. M. 126a(see Fig. 3 on page 68) there is a sketch of a house, on which Leonardo notes; casa con tre terrazi (house with three terraces).

Pl. CX, No. 4 (MS. L. 36b) represents the front of a fortified building drawn at Cesena in 1502 (see No. 1040).

Here we may also mention the singular building in the allegorical composition represented on Pl. LVIII in Vol. I. In front of it appears the head of a sphinx or of a dragon which seems to be carrying the palace away.

The following texts refer to the construction of palaces and other buildings destined for private use:

Taken from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci edited by Jean Paul Richter, 1880.

Notebooks of Leonoardo da Vinci
XII: Architectural Designs.
. . .
On the proportions of a court yard.
On the dispositions of a stable.
Decorations for feasts.
. . .