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Associated with Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

The Leoni binding c.1590

RCIN 933320

Leonardo bequeathed his drawings to his pupil Francesco Melzi. On Melzi’s death around 1570, the sculptor Pompeo Leoni acquired the drawings, and mounted them on the pages of two albums. One of them, containing technical studies, soon entered the Ambrosiana Library in Milan. By 1630, the other album had reached England and was in the collection of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel.

Around 1670 the album was acquired by King Charles II, perhaps as a gift from Arundel’s grandson. In the years around 1900 the drawings were removed from the album, and many were stamped with the cipher of King Edward VII. Fortunately Leoni’s album binding was preserved – becoming, for three centuries, the repository of every drawing in this exhibition.