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The exhibition

Leonardo da Vinci died on 2 May 1519, aged 67, at Amboise in central France. He was renowned as a painter, sculptor, architect and engineer, but the full extent of his achievements was unknown to his contemporaries and successors. Many of Leonardo’s projects failed to reach fruition, and his scientific investigations were almost entirely unrecognised in his own day.

It is primarily through Leonardo’s drawings and notes that we can begin to understand the man and his achievements. He used his drawings to devise new compositions, to fix fleeting impressions, to test his understanding, to force himself to look in minute detail, and to explore every possible variant of a scenario.

Around 550 of Leonardo’s drawings have been kept together as a group since his death, and have been in the Royal Collection since the seventeenth century. The finest 200 of those drawings are presented here.