Via dei Leoni

On a folio in the Codex Atlanticus (673r) dated «June 24, 1518, at Amboise» Leonardo recalls the «Room of the lions in Florence». The lion menagerie was situated behind Palazzo Vecchio, in today's Via del Leone, between Piazza San Firenze and the Loggia del Grano.
Another "curious" observation appears on folio 19114v of the Windsor Royal Library (dating from around 1506): «And I have seen a lion licking a lamb in our city of Florence ... The which lion in a few licks tore off all the skin covering the lamb and having thus denuded it, ate it up... ».
The drawing of a lion is found again in a famous rebus in which Leonardo, playing on his own name, couples the feline [leone] to a burning fire [arde] and a table [desco] to form the word "Leonardesco" (Leonardesque).
His ingenious creativity also produced a real mechanical lion capable of walking and sitting. These were, in fact, the prerogatives of the automaton commissioned of Leonardo by the Florentine community at Lyon to celebrate the solemn entrance of King Francis I into the city. The mechanical lion, moved by an intricate system of springs and gears, concluded its performance by opening its breast to display a bouquet of lilies, symbol of the city of Florence

Texts by
Alessandro Vezzosi, in collaboration with Agnese Sabato / English translation by Catherine Frost