Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing exhibitions plans announced for 2019

Neptune, circa 1504-5, black chalk and charcoal by Leonardo da Vinci. To be on display at The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
Neptune, circa 1504-5, black chalk and charcoal by Leonardo da Vinci. To be on display at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

If you’re a comic artist or illustrator seeking some inspiration, then you may be interested to learn that twelve galleries and museums across the UK are to launch simultaneous Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing exhibitions in February 2019, followed by two further exhibitions at The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh.

"A Deluge" c.1517-18, black chalk, pen and ink, wash by Leonardo da Vinci, which will be on display at the National Museum Cardiff
“A Deluge” c.1517-18, black chalk, pen and ink, wash by Leonardo da Vinci, which will be on display at the National Museum Cardiff
Mortars firing into a fortress, c.1503-4, black chalk, pen and ink, wash by Leonardo da Vinci. To be displayed at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
Mortars firing into a fortress, c.1503-4, black chalk, pen and ink, wash by Leonardo da Vinci. To be displayed at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
 The head of Leda, c.1505-8, black chalk, pen and ink by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
The head of Leda, c.1505-8, black chalk, pen and ink by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Leonardo da Vinci was the archetypal ‘Renaissance man’, accomplished in painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany. Only a small proportion of the drawings that survive are connected directly with his paintings, or his sculptural, architectural and engineering projects many of which were never realised. The remainder were Leonardo’s attempt to record and understand the infinite variety of experience.

 

The head of a youth, c.1510, red and black chalks on orange-red prepared paper by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at Manchester Art Gallery
The head of a youth, c.1510, red and black chalks on orange-red prepared paper by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at Manchester Art Gallery
A design for an equestrian monument, c.1485-8, metalpoint on blue prepared paper by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at Leeds Art Gallery
A design for an equestrian monument, c.1485-8, metalpoint on blue prepared paper by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at Leeds Art Gallery

Leonardo always maintained that an image transmitted knowledge more accurately and more concisely than words. The sheets by Leonardo at Windsor, covering all aspects of his activity, are the greatest treasure of the Royal Library.

All the drawings and manuscripts in Leonardo’s studio at his death were bequeathed to his pupil Francesco Melzi, who took them back to his family villa near Milan. After Melzi’s death, around 1570, the collection was sold to the sculptor Pompeo Leoni (c.1533-1608), who pasted the drawings into the pages of several albums. These were dispersed some time after Leoni’s death in Madrid, and one was brought to England, probably through the agency of Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel, who owned the album by 1630.

Studies of hands for the Adoration of the Magi â?? sheet 1 under ultraviolet light, c.1481, metalpoint (faded) on pink prepared paper, by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London
Studies of hands for the Adoration of the Magi â?? sheet 1 under ultraviolet light, c.1481, metalpoint (faded) on pink prepared paper, by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London
Studies of hands for the Adoration of the Magi â?? sheet 2 under ultraviolet light, c.1481, metalpoint (faded) on pink prepared paper, by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London
Studies of hands for the Adoration of the Magi â?? sheet 2 under ultraviolet light, c.1481, metalpoint (faded) on pink prepared paper, by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London

During the Civil War, Arundel left England, and there is no further trace of the Leonardo volume until 1690, when it was recorded at Whitehall Palace. How the album entered the Royal Collection is unknown, though it is most likely that it was acquired by Charles II. Although the binding of the album survives, the drawings have been removed in the course of the last two centuries.

They are now housed in individual mounts, and kept in solander boxes in the Print Room in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle.

The skull sectioned, 1489, traces of black chalk, pen and ink by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at Ulster Museum, Belfast
The skull sectioned, 1489, traces of black chalk, pen and ink by Leonardo da Vinci, to be displayed at Ulster Museum, Belfast

The venues taking part in the simultaneous exhibitions are: Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, National Museum, Cardiff, The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Leeds Art Gallery, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, Manchester Art Gallery, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, Southampton City Art Gallery, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens and the Ulster Museum, Belfast

More about Leonardo da Vinci on the Royal Collection Trust web site

All images via Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", working as a freelance editor, as Creative Consultant on the new Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years. His credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel UK and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines. He also edited STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics, including Team M.O.B.I.L.E. and The Beatles Story. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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