Video: Sheffield to host special show of beautiful drawings by Da Vinci, including his private code!

Forget the Da Vinci Code, prepare to see the genius of the real Leonardo da Vinci with a special exhibition of his amazing drawings in Sheffield.

Leonardo da Vinci is of course best known for his paintings the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper but he was a fascinating figure who also had interests in science, engineering, architecture, anatomy and a host of other subjects.

Leonardo da Vinci, The bust of a man (c.1510), Royal Collection Trust

Leonardo da Vinci, The bust of a man (c.1510), Royal Collection Trust

The 16th-century Italian artist spent his life exploring how the world worked.

Leonardo did drawings setting down his ideas and the results of his investigations in notebooks, with copious jottings made in his trademark backwards ‘mirror’ writing, going right to left, that he found easier because he was left handed.

Some of his most important notebooks found their way into the Royal Collection hundreds of years ago and, as next year is the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s birth, pages of drawings from them are going on show around the country.

Sheffield is one of 12 lucky British cities chosen to host a unique exhibition of 12 drawings taken from the collection.

Section of Leonardo da Vinci, Studies of water (c.1510-12), Royal Collection Trust

Section of Leonardo da Vinci, Studies of water (c.1510-12), Royal Collection Trust

Every city will show 12 different drawings at the same time and all 144 will be brought together afterwards and go on display at Buckingham Palace and Holyrood House in Scotland.

Royal Collection Trust Head of Prints and Drawings, Martin Clayton, came to Sheffield to speak at a special launch event at the Millennium Gallery, which will host the exhibition from February 1 to May 6.

He said: “The drawings were working drawings not done for others to see.

“They are probably the most extraordinary record of a mind, 500 years on.

“You will be able to see how his thoughts spawned other thoughts, in his famous mirror-image writing.”

Martin said he had selected the drawings to represent all Leonardo’s different interests.

Some will have been made as designs for commissions for his rich masters at various aristocratic courts in Italy and France.

One drawing, of a design for an elaborate metalwork table decoration with revolving parts, was chosen specially to be seen in Sheffield because of its long history of beautiful metalwork design and manufacture, said Martin.

The others include studies on the movement of water, wonderful fancy dress party costumes, anatomical studies of the liver and workings of the body, made after he dissected corpses, one of St George and dragon and lions, and an accurate drawing of a ravine.

One picture of a man’s head, seen on this page, is called the wild man because of his unusual features.

While the exhibition is in Sheffield, lots of events will involve students, people from industry and others giving their response to Leonardo’s work and ideas.

Laura Travis, head of learning and participation at Museums Sheffield, said: “To see this work in our home city will be an event that no-one will ever forget.”