The Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana


The Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana is a special collection of books and materials concerning Leonardo da Vinci and the Italian Renaissance. It was given to UCLA in 1961 by Dr. Elmer Belt, professor emeritus in the UCLA School of Medicine and a collector of Vinciana for more than sixty years.

Of special interest are those works directly related to Leonardo. These include all editions of his Treatise on Painting -- the collection also contains two very rare manuscript copies of the Treatise -- and facsimile editions of all his extant drawings and manuscripts. Among its other outstanding holdings are a first edition of the famous architectural treatise of Leon Batista Alberti; extremely rare volumes of the medical writings of Ambroise Pare; a superb copy of the Nuremburg Chronicle, the Divina Proportione of Luca Pacioli, which contains woodcut illustrations based on designs by Leonardo; and the very first book containing a printed mention of Leonardo, Bernardo Bellincioni's Rime of 1493.

Because Leonardo's interests were so diverse and his undertakings so profoundly important to subsequent developments in the arts and sciences, the scope of the collection extends far beyond his own time. It contains more than seventy incunabula and many early documents in the history of art as well as modern studies of Renaissance and post-Renaissance culture. The Belt Library's holdings of materials on human and animal anatomy are complemented by those in the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences. Its holdings of early Italian imprints are complemented by those of the Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections.

Since Dr. Belt donated it, the collection has continued to grow, and it now encompasses more than ten thousand volumes and many thousands of pamphlets. In addition to the continuing development of the collection on the part of the university, support has come from generous donors including Professor and Mrs. Lynn White Jr., who in 1972 gave an important collection of early books relating to Renaissance and Baroque science.

Rare books from the Belt collection can be paged at the Research Library Department of Special Collections. Associated materials can be paged at the Arts Library to be read on-site Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The collection is not available on weekends and holidays. For further information, call the Arts Library at 310.206.5425 or the Research Library Department of Special Collections at 310.825.4988.

Leonardo-related Web sites