Artist profile: Leonardo – drawings

Every month, I profile an artist that inspires my own art, in several segments.

Most everyone knows that Leonardo drew preliminary sketches of paintings and kept notebooks of drawings. Looking at these gives you an idea of what he was thinking when he was planning his paintings, which can be fascinating; it also helps art experts identify whether he painted something by comparing sketches and the finished works. In this post, I cover two preliminary sketches and two sketches from his notebooks.

Sketch of the head of Leda
Girl, who does your hair? Cuz it's awesome.

This is my all-time favorite sketch by Leonardo. Her hair is amazing and I quite like how he shaded with lines. It is very similar to the sketches below, which are nice but not awesome (and that’s the final word).
Sketches of the heads of two women
Still nice, though.

Mary and Child with St. Anne and John the Baptist
St. Anne must have thighs of steel.

The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and John the Baptist
Leonardo did paint something similar to this, but it’s missing John the Baptist and he treated Mary and St. Anne differently. I prefer this sketch because it’s got that mysterious pointing finger that Leonardo likes so much, and the faces of Mary and St. Anne are more interesting. (Apparently I am drawn to the lady-looking-downwards-and-smiling-faintly face.) Check out the story of how some guy shot it (yes, you read that correctly) while it was on display at the National Gallery in the U.K. on the Wikipedia page.

Sketches of an upper skeleton and of flowers
Oooh, Nature-y stuff.

Sketches of a skeleton and flowers
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Leonardo’s sketches of nature and the human body. I include them here so they will spark your curiosity about his other drawings. It’s just cool to see him trying stuff out, making crap up (maybe you have those long neck bones, but I sure don’t), drawing over top of his sketches.

Next week is my last Leonardo post – noooooo!

Other parts in the Leonardo da Vinci artist profile series
Madonna of the Rocks



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