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Distributed for Royal Collection Trust

Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist

Leonardo da Vinci was a pioneer in the study of the human body. Intent on exploring and explaining every aspect of anatomy and physiology, he performed over thirty dissections of humancadavers and many more of animals. He is also among the greatest draftsmen ever to have lived, and his studies of skeletons, musculature, and other visible structures remain to this day largely unsurpassed in their lucidity.

In addition to his anatomical drawings, Leonardo meticulously recorded his many findings on the pages of his notebooks with the hope of one day publishing a treatise on anatomy. Among the more than one thousand pages of these notebooks were a number of important discoveries that, had they been published, would have transformed Western understanding of biological sciences. But despite admiration by the likes of Benvenuto Cellini, Giorgio Vasari, and Albrecht Dürer—who made a number of drawings from Leonardo’s anatomical studies—the work was never completed and the drawings remained largely unpublished and little known until around 1900.
Since the seventeenth century, the Royal Library at Windsor Castle has housed the world’s most significant collection of Leonardo’s surviving anatomical studies. Generously illustrated throughout, this volume presents ninety of the finest of these astonishing documents—the largest publication of Leonardo’s anatomical drawings to date—accompanied by an informative discussion of their anatomical content and their significance in Leonardo’s pioneering work.

An app for the iPad is also available.

260 pages | 150 color plates | 8 x 10 | © 2012

Art: Art--General Studies


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The name Leonardo da Vinci likely conjures images of the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper, but one of his greatest legacies are his anatomical drawings, which were astoundingly accurate for his time. . . . The drawings are accompanied by fascinating texts from experts on how Leonardo pioneered the art of medical illustration, including the wonderfully grotesque tales of what it took to learn such anatomical detail. . . . It’s a fun art history class.

Claire Zulkey | Chicago Tribune, on the app

One of the greatest stories in the history of science.

Carl Zimmer, on the app

"Leonardo da Vinci was renowned as an artist at the time of his death, but 400 years passed before his brilliance as a scientist was widely understood. In his final years, he dissected about 30 human cadavers, producing some of the finest anatomical studies ever made, according to Martin Clayton and Ron Philo. From time to time, exhibits of da Vinci’s drawings have been mounted, but this book, containing 90 anatomical studies, is the largest published collection to date."

Jan Gardner | Boston Globe, "The Find"

Table of Contents

The Anatomical Studies of Leonardo da Vinci

    Notes to the reader
    Early anatomical and proportion studies
    Revival: The Battle of Anghiari
    The centenarian: Anatomical Manuscript B
    Neurology and the voice
    The bones and muscles: Anatomical Manuscript A
    The reproductive system
    Dogs, birds, oxen: The Villa Melzi studies
    The heart

Further Reading

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