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1The Movements of Water

Among the four classical elements, water held by far the greatest fascination for Leonardo. Throughout his life, he studied its movements and flows, drew and analyzed its waves and vortices, and speculated about its role as the fundamental “vehicle of nature” (vetturale della natura) in the macrocosm of the living Earth and the microcosm of the human body.1

Leonardo’s notes and drawings about his observations and ideas on the movement of water fill several hundred pages in his Notebooks. They include elaborate conceptual schemes and portions of treatises in the Codex Leicester and in Manuscripts F and H, as well as countless ...

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