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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Recto: The skeleton. Verso: The muscles of the face and arm, and the nerves and veins of the hand


Creator: Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519) (artist)
Creation Date: 
Materials and techniques: 
Pen and ink with wash, over black chalk
28.8 x 20.0 cm
RL 19012
K&P 142
P(L) 363
Acquirer: Charles II, King of Great Britain (1630-85)
Bequeathed to Francesco Melzi; from whose heirs purchased by Pompeo Leoni, c.1582-90; Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel, by 1630; Probably acquired by Charles II; Royal Collection by 1690

Recto: two studies of the thorax, showing the spinal column and upper arm; the bones of a figure from the neck to the pelvis; the skeleton of the pelvis and the legs; the bones of a right leg; notes on the drawings. Verso: two studies of a head in profile to the right, showing facial muscles; a right arm and shoulder in profle to the right; a study of a right arm and hand seen from in front; two studies of a right hand, with the palm towards the spectator, showing arteries and nerves; the head of a man with curly hair, in profile to the right.

This and RL 19000v are among a series of sheets compiled by Leonardo probably in the winter of 1510-11, in collaboration with Marcantonio della Torre, the professor of anatomy at the medical school of Pavia. This was the period of Leonardo's greatest achievements as an artist-anatomist, and his lucid drawings of the bones and muscles have rarely been bettered. Leonardo's interest was in the mechanical structure of the body, the first time that the study of anatomy had ever been conceived in this way, and any reference to proportion was entirely incidental.

RL 19012r

Text adapted from 'Leonardo da Vinci: the Divine and the Grotesque'

Further details

Unframed Drawings / Watercolours