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What Was He Thinking? A Chance to Step into Leonardo da Vinci's Mind

The Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci cut quite a few hearts open during his lifetime. Such a heartbreaker! Literally. His craving for understanding of human anatomy often led him to the cemetery where he dissected corpses purely for the sake of science. Perhaps all of Leonardo's discoveries were depicted on paper. He believed that sight was mankind’s most important sense, thus decided to go by the rule "better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times" when pursued his interest not only in human anatomy, but also sculpture, architecture, engineering and other sciences.

A visitor observing Leonardo da Vinci's portrait, created by his student Francesco Melzi in about 1519.

Leonardo's bubbling mind left an extensive visual legacy that wasn't meant for the public. Drawing wasn't considered as art in those cases: it served as a laboratory, where the genius would endeavour to answer questions popping in his head. Was he successful in finding the answers? Now, Londoners and city guests have a chance to see it for themselves by stepping into the mind of this Italian polymath as more than two hundred Leonardo's drawings are exhibited in "Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing" at the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

Leonardo as an anatomist: his endeavour to explain human heart.

To me Leonardo's work is an example, and a reminder, of the fluid conception of artistic practice, which can be incorporated in various spheres of life. Renowned primarily as a painter, he worked as an engineer which wasn't unusual to a Renaissance man. Designs of various warfare machines and diagrams are also on display next door to the queen's home.

There are papers that cover more than one subject which excite me the most as they represent the stream of Leonardo's restless mind. For instance, the below sheet of miscellaneous studies depicts geometrical diagrams; a horse with a rider an old man's profile, a cumulus and more objects that can be closely examined and appreciated at the exhibition.

I was mesmerised by the sheet of miscellaneous studies exposing his versatile, yet bubbling mind.

It's believed Leonardo once said: “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” Oh, was he a doer! A keen doer who never finished his most famous work "Mona Lisa" but designed such inventions as the flying machine, paved the way for the parachute and even sparked an urban planning project, where he strove to design an ideal city. Is there a lesson to be learnt? Always, if one chooses to learn... So many people we label after seeing the tip of the iceberg but indeed, there's always so much more to be explored and discovered.



"Leonardo da Vinci: a Life in Drawing"

Open until 13 Oct 2019

The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace


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