The e-leo experiment stems from the very particular nature of the Biblioteca Leonardina collection, which possesses the entire published corpus of Leonardo da Vinci’s works, starting with the first edition of the Treatise on Painting of 1651, and ranging from the oldest editions to the most recent facsimile publications, including those of the national edition of Leonardo’s manuscripts and drawings. The archive contains almost the entire corpus of Leonardo’s work, relying on its collection of editions (from the first, dated 1651), and has set itself an even more ambitious goal, that of contextualizing them within the broader framework of Italian and European historical and scientific heritage. The data in the archive are texts and drawings, analysed and classified by means of indexing methods for drawing searches, semantic glossaries, and search filter tools: an apparatus proposing an integrated processing model for Renaissance manuscripts by artist-engineers. In parallel, a scientific programme is being developed for the study of Leonardo’s specialized “languages” (mechanics, optics, anatomy, architecture, etc.), with the aim of giving access to the various 15th and 16th century manuscript production in the Vulgar Italian. A programme of translations into English of Leonardo’s corpus has also been started. Furthermore, e-Leo is currently experiencing a further, twofold stage of development: on the one hand, we are processing manuscripts contemporary with Leonardo (such as the Zibaldone by Bonaccorso Ghiberti), and on the other hand, his literary sources (not yet published).
E-leo meets the issue of the accessibility of the Leonardian corpus, published in a number of facsimile editions between the nineteenth and the twentieth century (mainly the first half): 1. a corpus comprising a massive number of sheets; 2. Fragmented in terms of collocation; 3. extremely complex by virtue of its intrinsic features (the relationship between text and image, which distinguishes it graphically; the fragmentariness of the drawings and projects, which are rarely finished; and the difficulty of reading the texts because they are themselves fragmentary, besides being in mirror writing). At this time it is the most complete digital edition of Leonardo’s corpus. It builds on that bulk of publications of manuscripts and drawings mentioned above, providing a powerful tool for accessing it and a resource for the study and analysis of Leonardo da Vinci’s works (but also for a broader and more generalized treatment, with similar criteria, of technical-scientific texts from the late medieval and Renaissance periods). It is indeed intended to provide further points of access to the content: the index of drawings, which tries to account for and include what gets left out in a textual search; and the glossary, which attempts to describe and historicize Leonardo’s language.