To mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, 144 of the Renaissance master's greatest drawings in the Royal Collection will go on display in 12 simultaneous exhibitions across the UK.
Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, a nationwide event, will give the widest-ever UK audience the opportunity to see the work of this extraordinary artist. 12 drawings selected to reflect the full range of Leonardo's interests – painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany – will be shown at 12 venues across the country.
The drawings have been together as a group since the artist's death, entering the Royal Collection during the reign of Charles II, and provide an unparalleled insight into Leonardo's investigations and the workings of his mind.
Leonardo firmly believed that visual evidence was more persuasive than academic argument, and that an image conveyed knowledge more accurately and concisely than any words.The exhibitions will include examples of all the drawing materials employed by the artist, including pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metalpoint.
They will also present new information about Leonardo's working practices and creative process, gathered through scientific research using a range of non-invasive techniques, including ultraviolet imaging, infrared reflectography and X-ray fluorescence. Leonardo used ink made from oak galls and iron salts, which is transparent in infrared light, allowing his black chalk underdrawing to be seen for the first time. Examination of A Deluge c1517–18, which will be on show at the National Museum Cardiff, revealed that beneath the pattern-like arrangement of rain and waves in brown ink, Leonardo drew a swirling knot of energy in black chalk at the heart of the composition.
As well as Cardiff, exhibitions will be held in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Sunderland, and Southampton. In the summer of 2019 all these drawings will be brought together in a single exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery in London, followed by a selection of these works at The Queen’s Gallery in Edinburgh in the winter of 2019-20.