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13 November 2014

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You are in: Manchester > Entertainment > Arts, Film and Culture > Arts and Literature > 'Ugly' da Vincis on show

Two sketches by Leonardo da Vinci

Beauty and the beast: da Vinci sketches

'Ugly' da Vincis on show

Leonardo da Vinci: artist, scientist, engineer and an all-round genius. Now Manchester Art Gallery is offering visitors a rare 'warts and all' opportunity to see some of his sketches.

He’s probably best known for his enigmatic portrait of the Mona Lisa. But the 15th Century Renaissance master was just as happy sketching grotesque caricatures as he was painting beautiful young women.

A selection of his sketches called 'Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci' has now come to Manchester Art Gallery (14 February - 4 May 2009).

They include:

• a beautiful portrait of a young woman and a caricature of a grotesque old man;
• two exquisite studies of a dissected human skull and two of plants;
• a drawing of an arsenal, probably intended for a treatise on warfare;
• a map of the river Arno, surveyed by Leonardo himself;
• a design for a dragon costume;
• an apocalyptic image of a deluge


The touring exhibition is part of the Royal Collection which contains some of the artist's most important drawings.

Leonardo da Vinci

Genius: Leonardo da Vinci

Deputy curator Martin Clayton said they showed that da Vinci was a more varied artist than many people understood:

"Leonardo was fascinated by perfect ugliness, just as he was trying to find the basis for perfect beauty," he said.

Adding: "Here you've got a hideous old man with a jutting out chin, hook nose, sucked in lips and missing teeth facing the profile of a hideous old woman with thick fleshy lips and double chin, her breasts trussed up in a tightly laced bodice - the embodiment of aged vanity.

"Yes, he was a very serious artist, but he also had a light side. He was employed as a court artist for much of his career and he was expected to create entertaining images. This would have been shown for people to laugh at. I think it’s no more serious than that."

'Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci' is at Manchester Art Gallery from 14 February - 4 May 2009

last updated: 13/02/2009 at 18:09
created: 13/02/2009

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