da Vinci

1452 - 1519

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     Leonardo da Vinci - biography
     Leonardo da Vinci
     1452-1481 Leonardo in the Florence of the Medici    
     1482-1499 At the court of Ludovico il Moro    
     1500-1508 The return to Florence    
     1508-1513 The Milan of Charles d'Amboise    
     1513-1519 The last years: Rome and France    



Leonardo da Vinci
c. 1512




The return to Florence




Studies of anatomy


Ever determined to explore new ways of representing truth in art, Leonardo was not disposed to learn the rules of anatomy from ancient sculpture or from second-hand sources; here,
as in other fields, he demonstrated the supremacy of experience. Like other artists before and after (Donatello, Pollaiuolo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Alessandro Allori, Cigoli, Poussin, Guercino, Rubens, and Rembrandt), but surpassing them in acquired knowledge, he observed and even practised the dissection of corpses, human and animal, to which he gained access in the hospitals of Santa Maria Nuova, Florence, and Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome. The human body provided an unrivalled opportunity for artistic and scientific analysis. His anatomical research was both topographical and physiological, with investigations carried out under normal, pathological conditions into the muscular, circulatory, and genitourinary systems, and into the individual organs, the brain, nerves, cartilage, skin layers, and skeleton. Familiar with the anatomical writings of Galen (2nd century), of the Arab Avicenna (l0th-11th century), and of Mondino (13th—14th century), he also met Marcantonio dalla Torre, the foremost anatomist of the age. The Flemish-born Andreas Vesalius, lecturer in anatomy at Padua and author of De humani corporis fabrica (1543), the first treatise on modern anatomy, set great store by Leonardo's studies.


Leonardo da Vinci, Heart and Lungs (of Cattle), c.1513, Royal Library, Windsor.
Studies of the heart were carried out during Leonardo's old age. The functioning of the heart and the cardiac valves was examined with the aid of glass tubes, to prevent the organ from collapsing.


Leonardo da Vinci, Anatomical studies of the shoulder,
Black chalk, pen and ink on paper
Royal Library, Windsor.

Leonardo da Vinci
, The Muscles of the Shoulder, c.1510-11,
Royal Library, Windsor.
Studies of the muscular system are always related to the conditions
of motion and strength of the figure depicted.



Leonardo da Vinci, Embryo in the Mother's Womb, c.1510,
Royal Library, Windsor.
The studies on embryology, together with those on cardiology, were particularly concentrated during the Roman period (1513-16).



Leonardo da Vinci
, Dissection of the Principal Female Organs and the Female arterial System, with Emphasis on the Respiratory, Circulatory, and Uro-genital Systems, c.1508, Royal Library, Windsor.


Leonardo da Vinci
Studies of the sexual act and male sexual organ
c. 1492
Pen and ink on paper
Royal Library, Windsor


Leonardo da Vinci, Two Views of a Section of the Skull,
Royal Library, Windsor.
This was one of the first studies carried out by Leonardo,
who described the skull as the meeting point of the senses and the seat of the soul.


Leonardo da Vinci
Comparison of scalp skin and onion
Pen, ink and red chalk on paper
Royal Library, Windsor


Leonardo da Vinci
Anatomical studies (larynx and leg)
Royal Library, Windsor


Leonardo da Vinci
Anatomical studies
Pen on red prepared paper
Biblioteca Reale, Turin


Leonardo da Vinci
Studies of legs of man and the leg of a horse
Pen, ink, red chalk on red prepared paper
Royal Library, Windsor


Leonardo da Vinci
Anatomical studies
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan


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