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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The cranial nerves

Overview

Creator: Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519) (artist)
Creation Date: 
c.1508
Materials: 
Pen and ink over traces of black chalk, with scratching out
Dimensions: 
19.0 x 13.6 cm
RCIN 
919052
Reference(s): 
K&P 55
RL 19052
Acquirer: Charles II, King of Great Britain (1630-85)
Provenance: 
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
Description:

Leonardo first began to speculate on the structure of the brain around 1490 but a reprise of his studies around 1508 led to more fruitful results. In the drawings at the top of the sheet, Leonardo is trying to demonstrate the path of vision from the eye to the brain. The drawing at upper centre shows a cross-section of the skull, revealing the eyeballs, optic nerves and the x-shaped optic chiasma formed by the optic nerves before they reach the brain. The olfactory lobes and nerves are also visible. The text at upper right margin reads: ‘e n are nerves, the optic nerves which are situated beneath the nerves called caruncular; but the optic nerves serve visual power and the caruncles the olfactory power

Further details

Category: 
Unframed Drawings / Watercolours