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Leonardo da Vinci: Ten Drawings from the Royal Collection

Release date: Monday, 17 October 2016

An exhibition of ten of the finest drawings by Leonardo da Vinci has opened at Swansea's Glynn Vivian Art Gallery.  It is the last of four galleries across the UK and Ireland to host the exhibition, and is the fifth touring exhibition of Leonardo drawings from the Royal Collection since 2002.  The works have been selected to show the extraordinary scope of the artist's interests, from painting and sculpture to engineering, zoology, botany, mapmaking and anatomy, as well as his use of different media – pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metalpoint. 

Through drawing, Leonardo attempted to record and understand the world around him.  He maintained that an image transmitted knowledge more accurately and concisely than any words.  Nonetheless, many of his drawings are extensively annotated, including the sheet of Studies for casting the equestrian monument to Francesco Sforza, c.1492–4, and the double-sided page from a notebook of anatomical studies, The heart compared to a seed and The vessels of the liver, spleen and kidneys, c.1508.  Leonardo was left-handed and throughout his life he wrote in perfect mirror-image, from right to left.  Rather than an attempt to keep his investigations secret, as has been claimed, this was probably a childhood trick that he never abandoned.

There are almost 600 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci in the Royal Collection.  They were originally bound into a single album, which was probably acquired in the 17th century by Charles II.  Beyond the 20 or so surviving paintings by Leonardo, the artist's drawings are the main source of our knowledge of this extraordinary Renaissance man and his many activities.  Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci may be explored online at

Information about the touring exhibition can be found here.