Recto: A palazzo, and a fountain of Neptune. Verso: Notes on Cyprus and the legend of the Sirens

Leonardo da Vincic.1508-10

Royal Collection Trust, UK

Royal Collection Trust, UK
London, United Kingdom

Recto: a drawing of a nude figure of a man, standing facing the spectator, with his head turned in profile to the right; at his feet are sea-horses. Below is a faint sketch of the same figure. On the left is a fortified building, with a plan of the same above it. There are notes above and below the drawings. Verso: a note decribing the pleasures of Cyprus. In January 1504, Leonardo was a member of the committee that met in Florence to decide where to site Michelangelo’s newly-completed David. That colossal sculpture clearly impressed Leonardo, for the pose of the Neptune drawn here, with sea-horses gathered around his feet, is closely based on Michelangelo’s work. The architectural studies appear to be a projected villa for the governor of Milan, Charles d’Amboise. The notes describe a pleasure garden, inspired by the mythical gardens of Venus on Cyprus, and it is likely that the Neptune was intended for a sculptural fountain in the gardens. Text adapted from Leonardo da Vinci: A life in drawing, London, 2018


  • Title: Recto: A palazzo, and a fountain of Neptune. Verso: Notes on Cyprus and the legend of the Sirens
  • Creator: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Date Created: c.1508-10
  • Physical Dimensions: 27.0 x 20.1 cm
  • Provenance: Bequeathed to Francesco Melzi; from whose heirs purchased by Pompeo Leoni, c.1582-90; Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel, by 1630; probably acquired by Charles II; Royal Collection by 1690
  • Type: Drawing
  • Rights: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019
  • External Link: Royal Collection Trust website
  • Medium: Recto: Black chalk, pen and ink. Verso: Pen and ink

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