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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

Recto: The muscles of the leg. Verso: The muscles of the trunk and leg c.1510-11

RCIN 919014

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The principal drawing is a hybrid of nude study and dissection drawing. The figure is posed as if alive, and many surface details are apparent in the feet, knees and abdomen, but the muscles are drawn with a degree of differentiation that suggests a flayed corpse. This conflation of life and death was common in Leonardo’s anatomical drawings. The page is dominated by a boldly modelled study of the superficial muscles. Trapezius (from the shoulder to the neck) has been removed and thus the ridge of the shoulder blade is prominent. The diagrams and notes at upper centre are an astute summary of the structure of muscles: Leonardo distinguishes between a broad thin tendon of attachment, a muscle body, and a narrower tendon of insertion, with connections to the nerves and vessels.