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Framed artwork 24.7 x 29.1 cm
A sheet of more than twenty drawings of cats and lions in a wide variety of positions: sleeping, sitting, prowling, playing, fighting and, in one case, frightened, standing with their backs humped and their fur bristling; in the lower half, drawn at an odd angle, is a study of a dragon, its head bent over its shoulder.
This drawing, one of Leonardo da Vinci's most charming, covers the full range of his modes, from the most stylised and 'Leonardoesque', in the coiled dragon, to the most observant and unaffected, in the many studies of domestic cats. See more
The most detailed studies, in the centre right, show the cats sleeping and appear to have been made directly from life, with the subject standing still.
In most of the fights it is difficult to discern which limb belongs to which cat, and in the study in the lower centre he has drawn the two cats enclosed together as a single, almost symmetrical unit, in the manner of a Romanesque sculpture.
Surrounding the studies of domestic cats are seven drawings of a single lioness, mostly crouching or prowling. Leonardo shows in these drawings a clear understanding of their anatomy and proportions. But the unifying interest of the sheet is revealed by Leonardo's short and incomplete note at the bottom:
"Of flexion and extension
That species of animal, of which the lion is the prince because of its flexible spine...".
About Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci was born on 15 April 1452. He was the son of a notary and a peasant woman who never married.
In 1466, he began working in the workshop of a sculptor named Andrea del Verrocchio. It was here that he began to paint, sculpt and draw.
Leonardo da Vinci became a painter, sculptor, engineer, inventor, musician, writer and architect, and was considered a great genius. He was always very interested in anatomical studies of the human body and could draw human organs in great detail. See more
He was accepted into the painters' guild in Florence in 1472 and opened his own painting and sculpture studio. His fame began to grow and he was commissioned to produce many different and very important works.
Throughout his life, he was in the service of several dukes who commissioned sculptures and paintings from him, but what really interested him was inventing new vehicles, weapons and objects.
All the works of Leonardo da Vinci are known, but the most famous are: the painting of "The Last Supper", which he painted on a fresco in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan; "La Gioconda", better known as "La Monna Lisa"; and "Vitruvian Man", a famous drawing of a man with four arms and four legs, in which he attempted to study the human body.
He also made many sculptures, but none of them have survived to the present day.
Although he was always creating and building new works, the struggles that took place during his life, as well as the struggles and rebellions that took place after his death, are responsible for the fact that many of his creations were destroyed, burnt or lost, including his remains that were thrown away in an unknown place after a war.
He died on 2 May 1519 in France.