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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) The Virgin of the Rocks, about 1491/2–99 and 1506-8 Oil on poplar, thinned and cradled 189.5 x 120 cm © The National Gallery, London (NG 1093)

'Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan’ is the most complete display of Leonardo’s rare surviving paintings ever held. This unprecedented exhibition – the first of its kind anywhere in the world – brings together sensational international loans never before seen in the UK.

Leonardo the artist

While numerous exhibitions have looked at Leonardo da Vinci as an inventor, scientist or draughtsman, this is the first to be dedicated to his aims and techniques as a painter. Inspired by the recently restored National Gallery painting, The Virgin of the Rocks, this exhibition focuses on Leonardo as an artist. In particular it concentrates on the work he produced as court painter to Duke Lodovico Sforza in Milan in the late 1480s and 1490s.

As a painter, Leonardo aimed to convince viewers of the reality of what they were seeing while still aspiring to create ideals of beauty – particularly in his exquisite portraits – and, in his religious works, to convey a sense of awe-inspiring mystery.

Works on display

Featuring the finest paintings and drawings by Leonardo and his followers, the exhibition examines Leonardo’s pursuit for perfection in his representation of the human form.  Works on display include ‘La Belle Ferronière’ (Musée du Louvre, Paris), the ‘Madonna Litta’ (Hermitage, Saint Petersburg) and ‘Saint Jerome’ (Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome).

The two versions of Leonardo’s ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ – belonging to the National Gallery and the Louvre – will also be shown together for the first time.

The final part of the exhibition features a near-contemporary, full-scale copy of Leonardo’s famous ‘Last Supper’, on loan from the Royal Academy. Seen alongside all the surviving preparatory drawings made by Leonardo for the 'Last Supper', visitors will discover how such a large-scale painting was designed and executed.

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist (‘The Burlington House Cartoon’), about
1499–1500 Charcoal (and wash?) heightened with white chalk on paper, mounted on canvas 141.5 x 104.6 cm © The National Gallery, London Purchased with a special grant and contributions from The Art Fund, the Pilgrim Trust, and through a public appeal organised by The Art Fund, 1962 (NG6337)

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Virgin and Child with a Cat, about 1480 Pen and wash on blue prepared paper 12.8 x 10.9 cm Galleria degli Uffizi, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe, Florence (421 E) © Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Fiorentino, Gabinetto Fotografico, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Saint Jerome, about 1488–90 Oil on walnut 103 x 75 cm Musei Vaticani, Vatican City (40337) © Photo Vatican Museums

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (‘The Lady with an Ermine’), about 1489–90. Oil on walnut, 54.8 x 40.3 cm. Property of the Czartoryski Foundation in Cracow on deposit at the National Museum in Cracow © Princes Czartoryski Foundation

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Studies of hands, about 1489–90. Metalpoint over charcoal heightened with white on pale buff prepared paper 21.4 x 15 cm Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12558) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Portrait of a Woman (‘La Belle Ferronnière’), about 1493–4. Oil on walnut 63 x 45 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Peintures (778) © RMN / Franck Raux

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Designs for a Saint Mary Magdalene, about 1486–8. Pen and ink on paper 13.7 x 7.9 cm © The Samuel
Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London (D.1978.PG.80)

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Portrait of a woman in profile, about 1489–90 Metalpoint on pale buff prepared paper 32 x 20 cm. Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12505) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Portrait of a Young Man (‘The Musician’), about 1486-7. Oil on walnut 44.7 x 32 cm. Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Pinacoteca – Milan (99) © Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana – Milano/De Agostini Picture Library

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) The ermine as a symbol of purity and moderation, about 1489–94. Pen and brown ink over traces on black chalk on paper 9.1cm diameter © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (PD.120–196)

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Compositional sketches for the Last Supper; architectural and geometric studies, 1490–2. Pen and ink on paper 26.6 x 21.4 cm Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12542) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Sketch of a Youth; fortifications, about 1493. Red chalk and pen and ink on paper, 25.2 x 17.2 cm.
Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12552) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Drapery study for the right sleeve of Saint Peter, about 1493–6. Black chalk and pen and ink heightened with white on paper 16.6 x 15.5 cm. Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12546) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Head of a youth, about 1491–3. Black chalk on paper 19 x 15 cm. Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12551) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Study of a man with his head turned, about 1495.  Red chalk on red prepared paper 18 x 15 cm. Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12547) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) The ventricles of the brain and the layers of the scalp, about 1490–4. Pen and ink and red chalk on paper 20.3 x 15.2 cm. Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12603) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Cartoon for the head of the infant Saint John the Baptist, about 1482–3. Metalpoint with traces of pen and
ink and wash heightened with white on prepared paper, pricked for transfer 13.4 x 11.9 cm (irregularly cut) mounted on paper, 16.9 x 14 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Arts Graphiques (2347) © RMN / Michèle Bellot

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) A rocky ravine, about 1480–3. Pen and ink on paper 22 x 15.8 cm. Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12395) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Head and shoulders of a child in profile, about 1494–6. Red chalk on paper 10 x 10 cm. Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12519) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Head of a woman, about 1488–90. Metalpoint heightened with white on pale blue prepared paper 17.9 x 16.8 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Arts Graphiques (2376) © RMN / Thierry Le Mage

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Bust of a woman, about 1499–1501. Red chalk and silver–point on red paper 22.1 x 15.9 cm. Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12514) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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 After Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Knot pattern, about 1495. Engraving 29 x 21 cm © The Trustees of The British Museum (1877,0113.364)

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 After Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Idealised head of a woman, about 1495. Engraving 13.6 x 13 cm © The Trustees of The British Museum (1850,1109.92)

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 Giovan Pietro Rizzoli, called Giampietrino (active about 1508–1549) The Last Supper, about 1520. Oil on canvas 302 x 785 cm © Royal
Academy of Arts, London (03/1230)

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Five character studies

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Torso and shoulders of a child seen from front and back, about 1494–6 Red chalk on white paper 16.5 x 13.6 cm Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12567) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Christ as Salvator Mundi, about 1499 onwards Oil on walnut 65.5 x 45.1 cm Private collection © 2011 Salvator Mundi, LLC. Photo Tim Nighswander/Imaging4Art

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) The Virgin and Child (‘The Madonna Litta’), about 1491–5 Tempera on canvas, transferred from wood 42 x 33 cm © The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. 2011. (GE-249) Photo by Vladimir Terebenin, Leonard Kheifets, Yuri Molodkovets

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) A church viewed in perspective, about 1488–90 Pen and ink on paper 21.3 x 15.2 cm Gallerie dell

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Studies of the human skull, 1489 Pen and ink on paper 29 x 20 cm Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 19059) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Measured study of a foot, about 1490–2 Red chalk on paper 9 x 7 cm Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12635) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Studies of a dog

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 Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Study for the hands of Saint John, about 1491–3 Black chalk on paper 11.7 x 15.2 cm Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12543) The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Study of a bear.

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Study for a Last Supper, about 1492 Red chalk and traces of pen and ink on paper 25.9 x 39.4 cm Gallerie
dell

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) The Virgin of the Rocks, 1483 – about 1485 Oil on wood transferred to canvas 199 x 122 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Peintures (777) © RMN / Franck Raux

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) The Virgin of the Rocks, 1483 – about 1485 Oil on wood transferred to canvas 199 x 122 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Peintures (777) © RMN / Franck Raux Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Drapery study for the right
sleeve of Saint Peter, about 1493–6 Black chalk and pen and ink heightened with
white on paper 16.6 x 15.5 cm Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12546) The Royal
Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II