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The movement of water haunts Leonardo’s work in many fields. In his landscapes it is a symbol of natural processes over unconscionable timespans; in his civil engineering it is a powerful but tractable adversary; and in his scientific studies it is a pure element, responding perfectly to external forces in a way that could be observed and analysed.

In these four sheets he studies the fall of water into a pool and the flow of water past an obstacle. The drawings exemplify Leonardo’s uncanny ability to fix a momentary impression in his mind and capture it on paper with absolute conviction, as if the endlessly changing scene had been frozen before him.