Leonardo da Vinci: A Closer Look is a revolutionary re-examination of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings, of his techniques and of his creative thinking process. It showcases 80 of Leonardo’s finest works on paper, using specialist photographic techniques to examine his working practices. One by one, Leonardo’s processes of creation are revealed, from his choice of paper and the composition of the specialist grounds used for his drawings, to his first touches in chalk, ink or metalpoint, and on to the finished compositions.
Many of these features are of course invisible to the naked eye, and have been so for centuries, ever since Leonardo took his pen from the paper. Infrared images reveal underdrawings unseen for 500 years, ultraviolet photography brings back to life now-vanished metalpoint sketches; while spectrographic analysis allows us to explore the origin and precise chemistry of Leonardo’s papers and grounds.
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.