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Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing

Accompanies the major exhibition in 2019

Martin Clayton

 256 pages

A rich insight into a searching and restless mind

Christopher Baker, Apollo Magazine

Leonardo: A Life in Drawing book cover

Cover jacket of Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing ©

254 x 203 mm, 200 colour illustrations
ISBN 9 781909 741 47 8 (hardback) 
ISBN 9 781909 741 66 9 (paperback)

North American, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish rights sold

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) practised as a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, costume designer, anatomist, botanist, map-maker and much more. The activity that unified these interests was drawing. Leonardo drew to develop his artistic and engineering projects, to record his perceptions of the world around him, to explore his own imagination and to think.

The Royal Collection holds by far the most important group of Leonardo’s drawings: more than 500 sheets that have been together since the artist’s death in 1519 and which are among the most diverse and technically accomplished in the entire history of art.

To mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death in 2019, selections of these drawings were displayed simultaneously at 12 venues across the United Kingdom from February - May 2019, followed by major exhibitions at The Queen’s Galleries in London (May - October 2019) and Edinburgh (November 2019 - March 2020). This publication includes all 200 of the drawings to be shown at each of these venues, and provides an authoritative survey of the richness of Leonardo’s drawings in the Royal Collection.

Martin Clayton is Head of Prints and Drawings, Royal Collection Trust. He has published widely on the Italian drawings in the Royal Collection, with titles including Castiglione: Lost Genius, Canaletto in Venice and Raphael and His Circle. His many works on Leonardo include Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist, The Mechanics of Man and The Divine and the Grotesque.

Related exhibition
Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing

A nationwide exhibition of drawings to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo's death

Special Royal Collection online price. Every purchase helps us to care for and increase access to the Royal Collection.

Highlights from the publication

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

Horses, St George and the Dragon, and a lion

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A sprig of guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) with berries

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

Recto: A copse of trees. Verso: A tree

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A bust of a child in profile

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

Two grotesque profiles confronted

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A bear's foot

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A scene in an arsenal

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A portrait of a man in profile