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Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa) and sun spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia)©

Leonardo’s finest botanical drawings were studies for his destroyed painting of Leda and the Swan, which had a verdant setting echoing the fertility inherent in the myth.

The focus of this drawing is a clump of star-of-Bethlehem, flanked by wood anemone. Although the swirling leaves of the star-of-Bethlehem are elegantly stylised, the blades of grass growing untidily among the anemones suggest that Leonardo observed these plants in the wild. Below is a study of sun spurge with details of its seed heads.

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