I visited the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina and Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester was there. The codex is 18 pages folded in half with topics that include a mixture of Leonardo’s observations and theories on the properties of water, rocks, fossils, air, astronomy, and celestial light. He wrote the Codex with his famous “mirror writing.”
No one knows the true reason Leonardo used mirror writing, though several possibilities have been suggested:
- He was trying to make it harder for people to read his notes and steal his ideas.
- He was hiding his scientific ideas from the powerful Roman Catholic Church, whose teachings sometimes disagreed with what Leonardo observed.
- Writing left handed from left to right was messy because the ink just put down would smear as his hand moved across it. Leonardo chose to write in reverse because it prevented smudging.
I was shocked to find out that Bill Gates owned the Codex Leicester. Bill Gates was asked why he purchased the Codex Leicester in 1994 and he said, “It’s an inspiration that one person—off on their own, with no feedback, without being told what was right or wrong—that he kept pushing himself,” Gates says, “that he found knowledge itself to be the most beautiful thing.”
The exhibition will be in Raleigh until January 17, 2016.