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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A design for a costume of an imaginary beast c.1517-18

Black chalk and pen and ink | 18.8 x 27.1 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 912369

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A drawing of a dragon, moving in profile to the right. It has a hairy body, a tail, short horns, an open mouth and, apparently, a hairy, clawed arm coming out of the back of its neck. In 1516, aged 64, Leonardo was invited to France to serve Francis I at his chain of palaces in the Loire valley. One of his responsibilities was apparently to design costumes for entertainments. This dragon was conceived in the manner of a pantomime horse, for a clawed arm in black chalk emerges from the side of the head, at the natural height of a man whose legs form the front legs of the beast and who supports the oversized head on his shoulders, in the manner of traditional Chinese festival dragons.