The muscles of the shoulder, torso and leg, and a skirmish

Leonardo da Vincic.1506-8

Royal Collection Trust, UK

Royal Collection Trust, UK
London, United Kingdom

Two studies of a nude man, standing in profile to the right, with his right arm cut off to show the muscles of the side; a scene of a horseman charging at a fleeing man with a shield; a note on the action of the shoulder muscles, and above, a slight sketch of the shoulder and raised arm of the central nude; to the right of the figures is a slight sketch of an arm, extended horizontally; on the extreme right, a man's left leg and hip, viewed in profile to the right. Leonardo’s most ambitious painting was the Battle of Anghiari. The huge mural of men and horses in violent action was commissioned in 1503 by the Florentine government for the Great Council Chamber of the Palazzo della Signoria, but it remained unfinished and was obliterated fifty years later. Leonardo prepared meticulously for the project, studying male nudes not only in the intended poses of the figures, but also systematically from front, back and side. The careful little sketch here of a skirmish is of a type familiar from the early studies for the Battle of Anghiari, but it is overshadowed by studies of the muscles. In three drawings the skin and right arm have been removed to show the muscles on the trunk and to analyse the actions of the shoulder muscles. Text adapted from Leonardo da Vinci: A life in drawing, London, 2018


  • Title: The muscles of the shoulder, torso and leg, and a skirmish
  • Creator: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Date Created: c.1506-8
  • Physical Dimensions: 16.1 x 15.3 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: Red chalk, pen and ink

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