Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing

This year marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death and to commemorate the occasion the Royal Collection Trust has created a nationwide exhibition of his drawings in 12 galleries across the UK.

Southampton City Gallery is one of the lucky galleries and their upstairs exhibition space features 12 amazing drawings, suffused in soft light, from various points of da Vinci’s life capturing many of his techniques and mediums.

Leonardo was born in 1452 and lived until he was 67. In his lifetime he completed hundreds of drawings but there are only about 20 known paintings. His drawings range from portraits, botanical studies, mechanical inventions and anatomical analysis. But most of all they seem to capture his way of thinking visually about problems and complexities and solving them through painstaking observation and mark-making.

“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” Leonardo da Vinci

The exhibition itself is great. It’s genuinely thrilling to look at his work and the gallery have done a brilliant job prefacing the drawings with a video on the materials he used and the techniques he employed. The exhibition is rounded off with a collection from the galleries own archives showing the importance of drawing as a means to analyse, prepare, observe and exist as an artwork in its own right.


The exhibition runs to the 6th May and the gallery are offering talks, workshops and activities alongside. Please visit their website for more information and visiting times. You can learn more about The Da Vinci Drawings and The Royal Collection Trust here.

“One has no right to love or hate anything if one has not acquired a thorough knowledge of its nature. Great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you know it but little you will be able to love it only a little or not at all.” Leonardo da Vinci

4 replies on “Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing”

Thanks for a really interesting blog, Bethany, like you I really enjoyed the exhibition in the round. We are so lucky to have free access to quality art.

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