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Leonardo da Vinci lived an itinerant life. Throughout his career – from its beginnings in the creative maelstrom of fifteenth-century Florence to his role as genius in residence at the court of the king of France – Leonardo created a kind of private universe for himself and his work.

Leonardo also spent a great deal of time away from his easel, pursuing his interest in engineering, natural science, sculpture, poetry, fables, music and anatomy. In the time that another artist would finish a series of paintings, he would work on one. Sometimes a painting would take decades, accompanying him on his travels as he worked on other commissions.

Leonardo’s private world was both vibrant and active. It sometimes did and at other times did not interact with the wider world. But what emerged from it has established Leonardo as the definition of the Renaissance Man.

To mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death in 2019, selections of Leonardo's anatomical drawings will be displayed at the Bodleian's Weston Library as part of our exhibition Thinking 3D, which explores the ways three dimensional communication has developed over the last 500 years. This publication includes all drawings being exhibited over 200 others which provide an authoritative survey of the richness of Leonardo’s drawings.

 

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