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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

Recto: A branched bur-reed. Verso: A bullrush c.1506-12

RCIN 912430

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Leonardo’s painting of Leda and the Swan was to have a foreground rich in plants and flowers, and his studies for the painting soon led him to study botany as a subject in its own right. Here Leonardo draws the seedheads of the bur-reed with a precision far beyond what was needed for a painting, and indeed his botanical drawings are more sophisticated than those in any contemporary herbal.