April 15–June 14, 2015

Leonardo da Vinci and the Idea of Beauty

In an intimate exhibition featuring master drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, the star is a study of an angel that the art historian Sir Kenneth Clark called “the most beautiful…in the world.”

Leonardo da Vinci’s accomplishments in art and science find their common ground in his drawings, into which he poured the full fervor of his intelligence and creative powers. Throughout his career, Leonardo experimented with various types of drawings: scientific studies; grotesque caricatures of craggy faces; and the most beautiful faces of men and women that he could imagine. Many of Leonardo’s most admired drawings are featured in this rich and varied selection of 29 sheets and a manuscript, opening on April 15, fittingly Leonardo’s birthday.

One revelation for visitors will be the rarely displayed Codex on Flight, one of Leonardo’s most perceptive scientific explorations, with its nearly hidden self-portrait of Leonardo as a young man, a recent discovery. The exhibition features rare loans from a number of Italian public collections, including the Uffizi Museum in Florence, the Biblioteca Reale in Turin, and the Casa Buonarroti, the ancestral property of Michelangelo in Florence, which has lent eight drawings by that master.

Above: Leonardo da Vinci, Head of a Young Woman (Study for the Angel in the 'Virgin of the Rocks'), about 1483–85. Metalpoint with touches of white opaque watercolor  on prepared paper. Biblioteca Reale, Turin.  Organized by the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary in Virginia in partnership with Associazione Culturale Metamorfosi

  • Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery (Gallery 184)


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Presented with support from the Cordover Exhibition Fund and the MFA Associates/MFA Senior Associates Exhibition Endowment Fund.

Organized by the Muscarelle Museum of Art at The College of William & Mary in Virginia in partnership with Associazione Culturale Metamorfosi.