One of Leonardo da Vinci’s designs for an Ornithopter (c.1489; Milan, Italy) by Leonardo da Vinci

One of Leonardo da Vinci's designs for an Ornithopter - Leonardo da Vinci - c.1489; Milan, Italy

Artwork Information

TitleOne of Leonardo da Vinci's designs for an Ornithopter
ArtistLeonardo da Vinci
Datec.1489; Milan, Italy
Art MovementEarly Renaissance
Current LocationBibliotheque de l'Institut de France, Paris, France

About One of Leonardo da Vinci's designs for an Ornithopter

One of Leonardo da Vinci’s concepts for an Ornithopter is delineated in this artwork, a testament to his ingenuity and the innovative spirit of the Early Renaissance. Drafted circa 1489 in Milan, Italy, the design is executed in ink on paper, reflecting the period’s heightened interest in technological development and the study of nature. This particular design is included within the pages of the Paris Manuscript B and is currently housed at the Bibliotheque de l’Institut de France in Paris, France.

The artwork depicts an intricate design for an ornithopter, which is a type of aircraft that mimics the flapping of bird’s wings in an attempt to achieve flight. The sketch is detailed, showing a central frame with a harness intended to accommodate a human pilot. Attached to the frame are a pair of large wings with a complex system of pulleys and cables, suggesting a mechanical method for the pilot to power the wing’s motion. Annotations surrounding the design are likely Leonardo’s own notes, providing insights or calculations regarding the function of the machine.

Leonardo’s keen observation of bird’s flight and masterful ability to translate these observations into mechanical concepts are evident in the artwork’s meticulous details and innovative design. Although human-powered flight would not be realized for several centuries, the creativity and forethought displayed in this ornithopter design highlight Leonardo’s enduring legacy as a polymath and visionary of the Renaissance.

Other Artwork from Leonardo da Vinci

More Early Renaissance Artwork

Scroll to Top