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The biggest ever exhibition of Leonardo's studies of the human form.
Following on from the National Gallery's blockbuster Leonardo exhibition, the Queen's Gallery reminds us that painting represented only a small proportion of the artist's output. The drawings by Leonardo are some of the most significant items in the Royal Collection.
Not content to simply accept received wisdom about ideal human forms, the artist set out to test aesthetic theory against real human bodies, and attempted to answer fundamental questions about humanity and the body - the causes of death and the location of the soul. Leonardo's considerable reputation meant he was able to dissect bodies relatively freely, and his drawings were intended to form the basis of a treatise on anatomy which would have been a huge step forward in science had it ever been published.
Sadly, the restless spirit of the polymath meant that the work remained incomplete, and had to wait centuries before being reappraised. Today, however, the drawings are recognised as some of Leonardo's most important achievements, and prove that his status as a true 'Renaissance Man' is richly deserved.
Highlights of the exhibition include a study of the dissected foot of a bear, meticulously rendered studies of the heart, and a famous drawing of a foetus in the breech position. Leonardo's inquiring mind led him to extraordinary discoveries, including tentative steps towards discovering the effects of cholesterol. The drawings have the precision of architectural diagrams – shown from multiple angles with an incredible attention to detail.
Standard entry £9.25
Open daily, 10am – 5.30pm (last admission 4.30pm)
What the critics say
The fifth best thing about this show is its variety. You will surely never have seen an exhibition made of this many different components.
The influence of Dickens on the artists of his day is clear in this new show
And there is a show within a show here, as well as a survey of landscape painting at its wildest.
A collection of drawings spanning 500 years has its rousing moments
Scott's Last Expedition at the Natural History Museum reveals the challenges of conducting a scientific mission in such bitter conditions
Examining these manuscripts also affords an irresistible sense of proximity to a great mind.
This is an exhibition for surgeons and historians of medicine as much as it is for connoisseurs and historians of art.
If you want to witness genius at work you can't miss it.