The 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death will be marked with simultaneous exhibitions across the UK featuring his “treasures” from the Royal Collection.
The works will be shown in 12 cities – Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton and Sunderland, with the 12th yet to be announced.
Leonardo da Vinci: A Life In Drawing will give the “widest-ever UK audience the opportunity to see the work” in February next year.
The drawings will then be brought together to form part of an exhibition of more than 200 works at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, in what is described as “the largest exhibition of Leonardo’s work in over 65 years”.
The drawings reflect the Renaissance master’s interest in painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany.
Charles II acquired 550 of the polymath’s drawings, which had been bound into a single album, and they have remained in the Royal Collection since the 17th century.
Martin Clayton, head of prints and drawings at the Royal Collection Trust, said: “None of Leonardo’s scientific work was ever published and, of his artistic work, only about 20 paintings survive today. But the common link to all his work was drawing.
“Leonardo drew incessantly throughout his life, not just to prepare his artistic projects but to spawn new ideas, record his observations and to test his theories on every subject under the sun.
“And because he hoarded thousands of drawings and pages of manuscripts right to the end of his life we have an unrivalled knowledge of the workings of Leonardo’s extraordinary mind.
“Leonardo’s most important drawings have been in the Royal Collection for more than 350 years.
“Because they have been protected from light, fire, insects… they are in almost pristine condition and among the greatest treasures of the Royal Collection and among the greatest artistic treasures of the United Kingdom.”
After the Buckingham Palace exhibition, a selection of 80 drawings will travel to the Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, in November 2019, the largest group of his works to be shown in Scotland.
Leonardo da Vinci: A Life In Drawing (February 1 to May 6 2019)
Ulster Museum, Belfast
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
National Museum Cardiff
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow
Leeds Art Gallery
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Manchester Art Gallery
Millennium Gallery, Sheffield
Southampton City Art Gallery
Sunderland Museums & Winter Gardens