In 1899 the young Aby Warburg gave a series of lectures on Leonardo in his home town Hamburg. At this point, Warburg lived and researched in Florence, and the lecture series was designed to raise his profile as a private scholar back home, but also, as Warburg’s brother Max put it encouragingly, to give something back to the community. The lectures were designed as an overview of Leonardo’s work and life, and are thus unique in the oeuvre of this scholar who tended to engage with very specific research problems.
With an average attendance of more than 400, Warburg’s Leonardo lectures were a great success, and a fourth meeting, accompanied by original Leonardo drawings and photographic prints in the Hamburg Kunsthalle, had to be repeated.
Marking the fifth centenary of Leonardo’s death and the 120th anniversary of Warburg’s first public lecture series, a special publication has been published containing the full translated text of Aby Warburg's unpublished lectures on Leonardo. The present translation is based on the texts as they survive in Warburg's three manuscripts located in the Warburg Institute Archive. As these lectures were delivered in public, the English versions do not take account of crossed-out passages or annotations in the original manuscript, and Warburg's sentence structure, which is at times complex, has occasionally been simplified.
The book is also available to view and buy for £10 from the Warburg Institute Library.