In 1974 history was rewritten when the Italians discovered the sketch of a bicycle on the reverse of a page of Leonardo’s Codex Atlanticus notebook hidden for 300 years. It seemed the maestro had at least designed a perfectly proportioned roadster 400 years before a German invented the ‘running machine’. Might he have even built a working prototype for pootling round Milan!?
But what is the truth behind this doodle, patently not by Leonardo’s hand? Why are there now hundreds of models of the machine in august museums, in touring exhibitions and at places of significance to the artists life? What possible role could Italian terrorism, Vatican corruption and the ormertà (Mafia code of silence) have in the story? And what has any of this to do with the worst volcanic eruption experienced by mankind?
This work in progress is a none-too-serious unravelling of this controversial and convoluted case. The sample pages below are from chapters entitled ‘The Godforsaken Year’, chronicling the Tambora volcanic explosion and its impact on European culture, ‘The Crazies’, looking at some of the other daft controversies surrounding Leonardo’s work, including the famous theft of the ‘Mona Lisa’, and ‘The Lecture’ when the sketch was first revealed.
Any comments, theories or recently uncovered material please forward to BRICK, who will be hugely grateful if not highly amused.