Leonardo da Vinci Leaves his Mark on Royal Collection Anatomical Drawing


Today Martin Bailey, reporting for The Art Newspaper, has revealed that a fingerprint discovered on Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of The Cardiovascular System and Principal Organs of a Woman could be “ the most convincing candidate for an authentic Leonardo fingerprint” found thus far.

Bailey further informs us that the mark was initially discovered by The Royal Collection’s former paper conservator, Alan Donnithorne, who will expand on his findings in a forthcoming publication entitled, Leonardo da Vinci: A Closer Look. The author believes that the fingerprint, which was made with the same ink used to sketch the illustration, possibly occurred when Leonardo “picked up the sheet with inky fingers”. An additional fingerprint located on the reverse of the sheet, likely corresponding to the Renaissance polymath’s left index finger, provides further testament to Donnithorne’s theory. 



As part of the many and various celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, this drawing, from The Royal Collection, will be available for public viewing in the United Kingdom during 2019. Initially, it will be exhibited at The National Museum, Cardiff, between 1 February and 6 May and then at The Queen’s Gallery, London from 24 May to 13 October. 


Images: Leonardo da Vinci, The Cardiovascular System and Principal Organs of a Woman, c. 1509-1510, black and red chalk, ink, yellow wash, on toned paper, pricked through, 47.6 x 33.2 cm. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust; © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019.

Detail of The Cardiovascular System and Principal Organs of a Woman, c. 1509-1510, black and red chalk, ink, yellow wash, on toned paper, pricked through, 47.6 x 33.2 cm. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust; © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019.


Further Reading: Martin Bailey, “Leonardo da Vinci’s thumbprint discovered on drawing in Royal Collection.” In The Art Newspaper, 20 January, 2019. 

Alan Donnithorne,  Leonardo da Vinci: A Closer Look, London: The Royal Collections Trust, 2019.


Posted by: Samantha Hughes-Johnson.


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