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Head of Leda

Leonardo da Vincic.1504 - c.1506

Royal Collection Trust, UK

Royal Collection Trust, UK

A drawing of the head of a woman turned three quarters to the left, looking down. The hair is fastened in elaborate braids, and arranged in coils over the ears. This is a study for the head of Leda in the lost painting of Leda and the Swan. The mythical Leda was seduced by Jupiter in the form of a swan. Leonardo worked on two compositions of the subject, finally executing a painting that was destroyed in the 18th century. In the four surviving studies of Leda's head, Leonardo expended little effort on her expression, simply adopting the usual downward glance; in the central two drawings he may even have left the face blank, for the faces there are of poor quality and may have been 'filled in' by a pupil. Instead Leonardo devoted all his attention to the most complicated of hairstyles, with dense whorls and woven plaits, even studying the head from the back - quite unnecessarily for a painted image.

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Details

  • Title: Head of Leda
  • Creator: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Date Created: c.1504 - c.1506
  • Support: paper
  • Provenance: Bequeathed to Francesco Melzi; from whose heirs purchased by Pompeo Leoni, c.1582-90; Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel, by 1630; Probably acquired by Charles II; Royal Collection by 1690
  • Physical Dimensions: w147 x h177 mm
  • Type: Prints & drawings
  • Rights: Supplied by Royal Collection Trust / (c) HM Queen Elizabeth II 2012
  • External Link: http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/912518
  • Medium: Pen and ink over black chalk

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