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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A standing male nude c.1504-6

RCIN 912594

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A study of a nude man standing facing the spectator, with his legs apart and his arms hanging down at his sides. In his left hand he holds a stick. Melzi's 61.

Leonardo’s most ambitious painting was the Battle of Anghiari, a huge mural commissioned in 1503 by the Florentine government for the Great Council Chamber of the Palazzo della Signoria. The mural remained unfinished when Leonardo was called back to Milan in 1506 and was obliterated 50 years later. Leonardo prepared meticulously for the project, studying male nudes systematically from front, back and side, to allow him to paint the monumental figures in the mural with complete confidence. Here the model spreads his legs evenly to balance his weight distribution: Leonardo combines subjective beauty with objective study of the underlying structures.

Text adapted from Leonardo da Vinci: A life in drawing, London, 2018