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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

The head of Leda c.1505-8

RCIN 912518

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In classical mythology, Leda, queen of Sparta, was seduced by the god Jupiter in the form of a swan. Leonardo’s Leda and the Swan was the only female nude that he ever painted, and the nakedness of her body was emphasised by her elaborate hairstyle, the focus of the present study. The painting entered the French royal collection soon after Leonardo’s death. Its ruinous state led to its destruction around 1700, but the composition is known from copies.