Northern Ireland

Leonardo Da Vinci drawings on display at Ulster Museum

Da Vinci Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Leonardo Da Vinci was an artist, an inventor, a sculptor and a scientist.

He has been called the greatest artist in history and painted the immortal Mona Lisa.

Yet Leonardo Da Vinci was a true renaissance man - an artist, an inventor, a sculptor and a scientist.

To mark the 500th anniversary of his death in 1519, 12 of his drawings are going on show at Belfast's Ulster Museum.

Image copyright ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST
Image caption Twelve Da Vinci drawings will go on display in Belfast

It is only the second time that drawings from his work have been exhibited in Northern Ireland.

Put together by the Royal Collection, they reflect his passion for architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany.

And Anne Stewart of National Museums Northern Ireland said they tell us all about Da Vinci's character.

Image copyright ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST
Image caption The works belong to the Royal Collection Trust

"He is never content to show you the surface," she said.

"He wants to know what goes on underneath. He wants to know the forms underneath the drapery, the anatomy of the human figure.

Image copyright ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST
Image caption They reflect Da Vinci's passion for architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany

"If he's painting a landscape, he wants to know about rock formation and the movement of clouds and of rivers."

Da Vinci's passion for science is captured by some of his studies of the human body which are on display in Belfast.

And his work influenced science for centuries, according to Theresa-Mary Morton from the Royal Collection Trust.

"I think it's fair to say that if Leonardo had ever published his treatise on anatomy the whole history of anatomy would have altered," she said.

Image copyright ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST
Image caption The drawings have survived for half a millennium

"The things that he discovered and was investigating in his studies were not really talked about or discovered again for another two or three hundred years in some cases."

How the drawings have survived for half a millennium is a story in itself.

More than 500 were bound into a single album acquired by King Charles II in about 1670.

Image copyright ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST
Image caption The exhibition will run at the museum until 6 May

They are still held in trust by the Queen, and Belfast is one of only 12 UK venues in which some of the drawings will be exhibited ahead of a major exhibition in Buckingham Palace in May.

Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life in Drawing runs at the Ulster Museum until 6 May 2019.

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