Leonardo da Vinci exhibition comes to Derby

A special exhibition commemorating the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, will see 12 of the Renaissance Master’s great drawings from the Royal Collection go on display at Derby Museum and Art Gallery from 1st February to 6th May.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, organised by Royal Collection Trust, will give the widest-ever UK audience the opportunity to see the work of this extraordinary artist. The Royal Collection holds one of the world’s greatest collections of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, and Derby is one of 12 locations nationally that will exhibit a selection of his works, along with Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton and Sunderland.

Tony Butler, Executive Director of Derby Museums said:

We are thrilled to be a partner for this unparalleled nationwide event. Working with Royal Collection Trust has enabled us to bring these fantastic works to Derby, a city of makers. Leonardo is an inspiration to makers worldwide, and this exhibition will create an amazing buzz across the whole city.”


The drawings on display at Derby Museum and Art Gallery have been gathered together to reflect the full range of Leonardo’s interests, from painting, sculpture, architecture to anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany.


Revered in his day as a painter, Leonardo completed only around 20 paintings in his lifetime. Likewise much of his work as a sculptor and architect, military and civil engineer and anatomist, was unrealised or destroyed, so it is only in these drawings and a handful of related manuscripts that Leonardo’s greatest achievements survive.

Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings for the Royal Collection Trust, said:

“The exhibition at Derby Museum and Art Gallery demonstrates the extraordinarily wide range of Leonardo’s work throughout his lifetime, and is a thrilling opportunity for audiences to engage directly with one of the greatest minds in history. His drawings were central to his work in every field, both his artistic projects and his scientific investigations: they allowed Leonardo to work out his ideas on paper, and can be viewed as his private laboratory.”

In May, the drawings from each of the 12 cities will be brought together for an exhibition of more than 200 sheets at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace; the largest exhibition of Leonardo’s work in over 65 years. A selection of 80 drawings will then travel on to The Queen's Gallery at Edinburgh’s Palace of Holyroodhouse in November 2019; the largest group of Leonardo's works ever to be shown in Scotland.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing opens to the public in Derby on Friday 1st February and will be free of charge with an invitation to Give What You Think; a donation that will help Derby Museums continue to bring high-profile exhibitions like this to Derby in future.

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