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Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Cats, lions, and a dragon©

These studies range from acutely observed drawings of domestic cats to a highly stylised coiling dragon. There are also several studies of a lioness, an animal that Leonardo would have known from the lions kept behind the Palazzo della Signoria in Florence as symbols of the city.

The brief note on the sheet – ‘Of flexion and extension. The lion is prince of this animal species because of the flexibility of its spine’ – suggests that the drawings were made in connection with Leonardo’s proposed treatise ‘on the movements of animals with four feet, among which is man, who in his infancy crawls on all fours.’

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