Leonardo da Vinci is arguably the greatest polymath of all time; renowned for his art, science and invention. The Mona Lisa, of course, is perhaps the world’s most famous painting, and there can be few who have not seen his Vitruvian Man, the sketch of a man with arms and legs outstretched. His inventions (although few were published and the majority made little or no contribution to future technology), include a hang glider and a machine rather like a helicopter.
But for all his fame, there is one area which has perhaps been sightly overlooked until now. Leonardo was an accomplished anatomical artist, fascinated by the study of the human body and eventually filling over 200 pages of his notebook with drawings of the human skeleton, muscles and other features. Much of his work was created from dissecting corpses at various Italian hospitals and as well as pioneering work in the as-yet undefined field of biomechanics, he produced one of the first sketches of a foetus in utero as well as hundreds of studies of animal anatomy which he compared with his human work.f his discoveries about the human were years ahead of their time, why is his work not better known? The simple answer is that the vast majority was unpublished for centuries and it is only with hindsight that we can see what a great body of work he has produced.
This is all relevant now as his work is about to go on display in London! As part of the Royal Collection, these drawings were kept in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. However, they have now been moved to The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace in preparation for Friday, where they will be open to the public until September. The Nature Video team were lucky enough to secure an invite to view the collection at Windsor Castle and have produced a video with senior curator of the collection, Martin Clayton, talking us through some of the most important pieces.