Visit Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing at The Queen’s Gallery

Leonardo da Vinci may have died half a millennium ago, but his presence in art is still everywhere. From the Mona Lisa starring next to Beyoncé and Jay Z in a 2018 music video, to the recently discovered Salvator Mundi currently holding the title of the world’s most expensive painting (around £346 million), da Vinci’s grip on our culture seems immortal.

The Queen’s Gallery is opening Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing (from 24 May 2019) to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, describing it as a ‘once-in-a-generation exhibition’. Adjacent to Buckingham Palace, the gallery is a showcase for the vast Royal Collection, which owns many of da Vinci’s drawings.

The British Library is also honouring this cultural giant with Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion to 8 Sep 2019 

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The exhibition has more than 200 drawings and is part of a year-long celebration, which began in February when these works were divided and displayed in venues around the UK. They cover da Vinci’s studies of architecture, sculpture, anatomy, botany, engineering and cartography.

But why should you be excited by the sketches of a man who is arguably known for his paintings? Well, for one thing Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings have generally aged more successfully than his paintings: The Last Supper, which is on display at the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, was painted on a wall and has rapidly deteriorated, which means that it’s been subjected to touch-up jobs and interference. It’s simpler to store and preserve pieces of paper, so, as curator Anne Stewart says, viewing these pieces is like ‘looking over Leonardo’s shoulder as he’s drawing’.

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The exhibition charts the artist’s progression, from early pen-and-ink studies of human profiles to his final years working for King Francis I of France. The breadth here makes it a wonderful chance to dive inside a genius’s glittering mind.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawings from 24 May to 13 Oct 2019
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, SW1A 1AA
0303-123 7301 |

From sketches to sets: check out the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at the Design Museum here

Photos © Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

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