compassion, collaboration & cooperation iN transistion
Marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci,
the exhibition brings together more than 200 of the Renaissance master's
greatest drawings in the Royal Collection, forming the largest exhibition
of Leonardo's work in over 65 years.
Drawing served as Leonardo's laboratory, allowing him to work out
his ideas on paper and search for the universal laws that he believed
underpinned all of creation. The drawings by Leonardo in the Royal
Collection have been together as a group since the artist's death in 1519.
Acquired during the reign of Charles II, they provide an unparalleled
insight into the workings of Leonardo's mind and reflect the full range
of his interests, including painting, sculpture, architecture, anatomy,
engineering, cartography, geology and botany.
"For the pattern of life shall continue and man shall learn
more as to his welfare and conduct and shall benefit as
This sketch, and the notes that go with it, show how Leonardo understood
the proportions of the human body. Each separate part was a simple
fraction of the whole. For example, the head measured from the forehead
to the chin was exactly one tenth of the total height, and the outstretched
arms were always as wide as the body was tall.
These ideas were not Leonardo's, but were taken from the writings of the
Roman architect Vitruvius. Both men believed that the same principles
should be used when designing buildings.
However, Leonardo tried to take these ideas further, and spent much of
his life searching for connections between the structure of the human
body, and other patterns in nature. Elsewhere in his notes, he proclaimed
occupied Leonardo for much of his life; that of 'squaring the circle'.
This involves drawing a circle and square that have the same area
without measuring. Some argue that this diagram shows that Leonardo
had a sophisticated understanding of the problem, which other
mathematicians would not develop until much later.
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