Leonardo da Vinci was not only one of the leading artists of the Renaissance - he was also one of the greatest anatomists ever to have lived. He combined, to a unique degree, manual skill in dissection, analytical skill in understanding the structures he uncovered, and artistic skill in recording his results. His extraordinary campaign of dissection, conducted during the winter of 1510-11 and concentrating on the muscles and bones of the human skeleton, was recorded on the pages of a manuscript now in the Print Room of the Royal Library at Windsor Castle.
These are arguably the finest anatomical drawings ever made and are extensively annotated in Leonardo's distinctive 'mirror-writing', with explanations of the drawings, notes on related anatomical matters, memoranda and so on. Leonardo Da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man reproduces the entire manuscript, and for the first time translates all of Leonardo's copious notes 'on the page' so that the unfolding of his thoughts may readily be followed by both the specialist and the general reader.
Martin Clayton is Deputy Curator of the Print Room at Windsor Castle, and is well known as an authority on the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. His previous publications include the award-winning Leonardo da Vinci: The Divine and the Grotesque (2002) and (with Ron Philo) Leonardo da Vinci: The Anatomy of Man (1992).
Ron Philo is Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
15 July 2011