Past Exhibitions

LEONARDO DA VINCI: THE MECHANICS OF MAN

February 6 to May 2, 2010


Leonardo da Vinci
fol. 15r
The muscles of the leg, 1510-1511
pen and ink with a little wash,
over traces of black chalk
The Royal Collection © 2009
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II




Leonardo da Vinci
fol. 18r
The muscles and tendons of
the lower leg and foot
, 1510-1511
pen and ink, over traces of black chalk
The Royal Collection © 2009
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Leonardo da Vinci is one of history’s greatest artists. A man of relentless curiosity, Leonardo looked at the world around him with an intensity and power that few others have equalled. He turned his attention to subjects as diverse as the shapes of mountains, the movement of water, the underlying nature of flora and fauna, and created some of the most compellingly accurate images of the human form ever produced.

One of the most important of Leonardo da Vinci’s artistic and scientific investigations of the human body was conducted for a planned treatise on anatomy. To accomplish this, Leonardo appears to have worked with a scientist from the University of Pavia to participate in dissections of corpses, which were rarely performed at the time. These direct observations by Leonardo resulted in an exceptional body of work that remains, to this day, one of the greatest triumphs of drawing and scientific inquiry.

Leonardo’s group of drawings, referred to as the Anatomical Manuscript A, concentrates on the structures of the body and the movements of musculature. Shown for the first time as a complete group in this exhibition, Manuscript A encompasses thirty-four of Leonardo’s pen and ink anatomical drawings on eighteen sheets of paper, rendered during the winter of 1510-1511. Included are the first known accurate depictions of the spinal column and two magisterial sheets depicting the musculature of the lower legs and feet. The works are graciously loaned by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from The Royal Collection, Windsor.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery in association with The Royal Collection and curated by Martin Clayton of The Royal Collection, Windsor.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a major book on the drawings with essays by Martin Clayton and Dr. Ron Philo, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.


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