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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

Recto: The heart compared to a seed. Verso: The vessels of liver, spleen and kidneys c.1508

RCIN 919028

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Leonardo’s dissection notes would inevitably have been provisional and soiled with blood, and do not survive. What we have are his ‘clean copies’, compiled later in the studio, that attempt to convey clearly the information that he had inferred through dissection. In the first two studies here Leonardo struggles to make sense of his dissection notes – the vessels are repeatedly drawn in both chalk and pen, and thus are rather confused. Only in the third drawing does he arrive at a clear arrangement. The liver is small and the spleen enlarged, indicative of cirrhosis of the liver and associated portal hypertension.