Search results

Start typing

This exhibition is in the past. View our current exhibitions.

The Exhibition

Leonardo da Vinci died 500 years ago, on 2 May 1519, at the age of 67.

During his lifetime Leonardo had attained fame as a painter, sculptor, architect and engineer. But many of his works had remained unfinished, and few people knew of his remarkable scientific investigations.

It is primarily through Leonardo’s drawings and notes that we can understand the man and his achievements. He drew incessantly – to devise his artistic projects, to explore the natural world, and to record the workings of his imagination.

Leonardo kept thousands of these drawings to the end of his life, bequeathing them to his favourite pupil to ensure that his legacy would be preserved.

Around 550 of these drawings entered the Royal Collection in the seventeenth century, mounted on the pages of a single album. Eighty of the finest are presented here, to give a uniquely intimate picture of the original ‘Renaissance Man’.

A drawing of a lily (Lilium candidum L.). The elaborate technique combines detailed underdrawing in leadpoint, a thick but varied pen line, modelling with dilute ink and ochre wash, an almost dry ochre rubbed into the paper, and highlights in liquid white
Florence and Milan, to 1499

Leonardo spent his twenties working as a painter in Florence, moving to Milan in 1482.

A full-length drawing of a standing horse, facing the viewer; a study of the hind-quarters of a horse, with its back to the spectator; a full-length horse, in profile to the right, turned slightly away from the spectator; a slight sketch of a horse, and a
The Sforza monument

The ruler of Milan Ludovico Sforza required Leonardo to make a monument to his father Francesco

A drawing of the head of a youth, with long wavy hair, bending forward and inclined slightly away from the spectator. He is seen almost in profile to the left, with his lips parted and his eyes raised. Melzi's number 27.
Leonardo’s greates
The Last Supper

Leonardo's greatest work to reach completion

A drawing of the head of a woman turned three quarters to the left, looking down. The hair is fastened in elaborate braids, and arranged in coils over the ears. This is a study for the head of Leda in the lost painting of Leda and the Swan. Melzi's n
Florence, 1500 – 1506/8

Leonardo tried to reestablish himself as a painter

A drawing of a map of Imola, showing the city enclosed by a ring. Four lines cross the plan, forming on the circle eight points of the compass, at which the names of the winds are written in Leonardo's hand, clockwise from one o'clock. 
In August 1502 Leo

Leonardo was appointed military architect and engineer to Cesare Borgia, commander of the Papal army

A study of a rearing horse with its head thrown back in at least three alternative positions, and the legs drawn repeatedly to give a sense of thrashing movement. A jumble of lines indicate a rider, perhaps raising his right arm to strike a blow. Below th
The Battle of Anghiari

The panoramic mural to celebrate the great Florentine victory was never completed

A drawing of a fetus in utero, with the uterus opened out; a smaller sketch of the same, and of details of the placenta and uterus; a diagram demonstrating binocular vision; notes on embryology, on relief in painting and on mechanics. 
Throughout his anat
Later scientific work

Leonardo's works never reached a conclusion, and remained largely unknown at his death

A drawing of a hilltop with stratified rock bursting out of the ground and heaps of fragmented boulders in the right background. Melzi's number 161. 
The perspective and scale, and the relationship between the parts of the drawing, are hard to grasp &ndas

Leonardo was fascinated by the interaction of water and rock

RCIN 912688 and RCIN 912716 are fragments of a larger sheet depicting a water-clock, though the mechanism is obscure. The body of the clock is seen in plan at lower left, a cluster of 24 tubes of uniform height and increasing diameter, to be fil
Milan, 1506 – 1513, and Rome, 1513 – 1516

Leonardo served as an all purpose designer in his final years in Italk

The drawing is one of a series of eleven drawings by Leonardo of a mighty deluge, probably executed during his last years in France, and among the most enigmatic and visionary works of the entire Renaissance. Modest in size and densely worked in black cha
France, 1516 – 1519

Leonardo moved to the court of King Francis I, but his health was deteriorating

This is the leather binding of the album made up for Pompeo Leoni in the late sixteenth century to house over 500 of Leonardo’s drawings, including all the anatomical studies now known. The album was brought to England, probably by the agents of Tho
Leonardo’s legacy

Leonardo's true life work was to be found in his papers

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.