“From old ships, sailors, waves, and monsters, to the meandering courses of the rivers, the clearly-outlined mountain ranges, the isolated peaks of the volcanoes: a very high quality item, such a perfect one it was suspected that behind it it could not be the work of a cartographer, but it would have been made by an extremely gifted artist.
So it came to pass that in 2012, a Belgian collector, Stefaan Missinne, scholar of the renowned late professor Carlo Pedretti, the most important expert on Leonardo da Vinci’s life and works, suspected that the little precious globe, beyond being the oldest cartographic evidence of Southern America on a globe, it might have been produced by the genius hand of Leonardo himself. The discovery had international resonance, but now, after several years of deep research, it is presented again to a wider public with a full repertoire of documents and proofs.
The analysis of the engraving techniques showed that the maker was left-handed (as Leonardo was); Carbon 14 testing was done to identify its age; the breeding place of the Ostriches from where the eggshells originate was with the highest probability the garden of the Viscounts of Pavia, and a number of details, cross checked and confirmed by several experts on Leonardo’s production and Renaissance cartography scholars, like Professor Leonardo Rombai from the University of Florence, all confirmed professor Missinne’s´ thesis. The research needed an interdisciplinary approach: The Renaissance world was an interdisciplinary one as well!
The author has been crossing data from mathematics, art history, cartography, iconography, physics, cosmology, engraving techniques, graphology, not to mention all the most modern methods he appropriated (from electron microscopy to CTs). This globe is actually the oldest engraved globe and Leonardo could make it thanks to geographical information he obtained first hand from his friend, Amerigo Vespucci. Professor Missinne also spotted a drawing by Leonardo, kept at the British Library, and formerly classified as a representation of the Moon surface: he demonstrated that the drawing is a prepatory one for this globe. Symbols, enigmas and an anagram – not yet solved – are engraved on this wonderful globe.
The whole research is well described in Missinne’s book The Da Vinci Globe, published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing; a book to be read while waiting for the celebrations of Leonardo’s´ five hundred year anniversary in 2019.”
Francesca Grego News Editor, (c) 2018 ARTE.IT Rome
Kindly translated by Dott. Marisa Addomine from the original Italian