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Accompanies the major exhibition in 2019

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

Two grotesque profiles confronted c.1485-90

Pen and ink, wash | 16.3 x 14.3 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 912490

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A drawing of the head and shoulders of an elderly man in profile to the right, with an enormous jutting chin. Facing him is an old creature on a smaller scale, intended to be female, with a very long upper lip and a double chin. Leonardo sketched countless grotesque heads, as a counterpoint to his investigations into ideal beauty. Here a fierce old man faces a vain old woman, her hair pulled back and her bodice laced so tightly that her breasts bulge out. Her right hand is held to the man’s chin in a romantic gesture, and thus Leonardo turned them into a pair of aged lovers, a parody of the opposed profiles of married couples that was one of the standard modes of fifteenth-century portraiture. Text adapted from 'Leonardo da Vinci: the Divine and the Grotesque'