Alice Roberts: 'Leonardo saw the body as a complex, beautiful machine'

Saturday, May 12, 2012 - 18:30 in Physics & Chemistry

There are errors in Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical work, but an exhibition of his notebooks shows his true geniusAs an anatomist – as anybody – looking at the pages of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks on display in the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, is a humbling and mind-bending experience. But my first reaction to the beautifully displayed pages, each sandwiched between two sheets of glass so that you can view both sides, was the smallness of his notebook. Smaller than the trusty Moleskines that contain all my scrawls: not much larger than A5, in fact. But Leonardo certainly crammed a lot into that space. Each page is covered in minutely observed details of anatomy, framed by copious notes in his tiny, spidery mirror-writing (because it was easier for a left hander, or perhaps – I like to think, anyway – because it would make it difficult for anyone else to read...

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