Italian Renaissance art


Leonardo da Vinci: studies in detail.

Study of Two Warriors’ Heads for the Battle of Anghiari (1504 - 1505)Superficial anatomy of the shoulder and neck - recto (c.1510); Sheet Studies - recto (1470-80); Head of Leda (1504-6).

Leonardo da Vinci was master of his brush, and his pen or chalk. This photoset has four examples of Leonardo’s studies for paintings, general sketches, and studies of anatomy. And interestingly, in each drawing, his use of the pen is different, in a way which most clearly expresses and achieves the ‘point’ (or message) of the study. He can masterfully articulate with quick, swirly lines and just as easily make tightly controlled lines seem effortlessly executed.

By Anne Leader

Leonardo da Vinci was born on 15 April 1452. The world-renowned polymath excelled as a painter, sculptor, architect, designer, theorist, engineer, and scientist, though he was often more interested in the design and exploratory phases of his work than bringing them to completion. Widely recognized as the father of the High Renaissance, even though he was of the same generation as Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-94), and Filippino Lippi (1457-1504), rather than Michelangelo (1475-1564) or Raphael (1483-1520). Though Leonardo famously didn’t complete a number of major commissions, those that he did are today some of the most recognizable images of the Italian Renaissance.

Drapery Study, 1470-84, brush and grey distemper on grey canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris

Adoration of the Magi, 1481-82, oil on panel, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (Lady with an Ermine), 1483-90, oil on wood, Czartoryski Museum, Cracow

Mona Lisa, 1503-5, oil on panel, Musée du Louvre, Paris

Last Supper, 1495-98, mural, refectory, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan

Study of St Anne, Mary, the Christ Child and the young St John, 1501-06, lead pencil, pen and ink on paper, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Vitruvian Man, 1492. pen, ink, watercolour and metalpoint on paper, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Study for the Sforza monument, 1488-89, metalpoint on bluish prepared paper, Royal Library, Windsor