Monday, 25 June 2012

Leonardo Drawings

A collection of ten rarely seen drawings by Leonardo da Vinci is on display in Belfast.

The works include designs for a chariot, anatomical sketches and a study of the head of Leda, the mythological mother of Helen of Troy.

They form part of the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle.

The touring exhibition will be at the Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast, till the 27th August, 2012, to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.

A spokesman for the Royal Collection said the drawings were among the finest in its almost 600-piece collection and had been selected to show the scope of Leonardo's interests in painting, sculpture, engineering, botany, map-making, hydraulics and anatomy.

They form a mini retrospective of his career and complement his court works.

Martin Clayton, senior curator for prints and drawings at the Royal Collection, said the drawings represented a mix of preparatory studies for paintings as well as scientific research. Due to the risk of light damage, the drawings have never been on permanent public display.

He added:
"This group of drawings will hopefully give people a concrete sense of who Leonardo was. Often when people think of Leonardo they associate him with the Mona Lisa, a flying machine and an anatomical drawing, but his scientific interest is seen as something peripheral. Science and engineering was not just a dalliance for him him, they were serious fields of investigation in which we can see from his drawings that he achieved significant success. This also informed his paintings as he tried to present as accurate a representation of life as possible."
He said the drawings also had special significance for being among those the Renaissance artist most valued and kept.

They were found in his studio in the Loire Valley in France on his death in 1519 and have been kept together as a collection ever since, passing into the Royal Household in the 17th Century during the reign of CHARLES II.

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