Milan, Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana

Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and His Circle - Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Collection) Facsimile Edition

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This collection consists of fifty-three plates featuring the reproductions of a selection of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and his circle whole originals are housed in Milan’s Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana. Among the drawings reproduced here, some can be attributed to Leonardo himself, while others are the work of his students and followers: nearly no other artist has ever inspired such an extensive array of imitations. The authors belonging to Leonardo's circle whose drawings are reproduced in this collection include Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, Cesare da Sesto, and Francesco Melzi.

Leonardo is rightly and continuously referred to as a "master" not only for his originality, his contributions across various fields of knowledge, and for being the protagonist of a true artistic revolution, but also for having successfully passed on his experience and knowledge to a number of students who have variously reinterpreted his style and techniques. While it is his own masterpieces that have given Leonardo enduring fame, it is certainly his followers who have elevated him to the status of a universal myth.

Leonardo's Portraits of Old Men

Among the autograph drawings by Leonardo included in this collection are the captivating portraits of old men, some solemn and filled with depth, others amused and bordering on caricature. These are the result of his studies in physiognomy, his interest in human expressions and in depicting the emotions of the soul, but they especially represent an almost obsessive search, which is also evident in his writings, on the issue of the passage of time.

A Red Chalk Portrait by Francesco Melzi

Francesco Melzi, who joined Leonardo during the latter's second Milanese period, was among the master's favored pupils. Leonardo chose him to inherit the vast collection of his papers and notes. Prominent among the drawings attributed to Melzi in this collection is his profile of an elderly man. This drawing reveals the young pupil's immense admiration and even affection for his mentor: it is a marvelous red chalk drawing that follows a recurring Leonardesque model, and which Francesco, with youthful pride, signed and dated «1510, adì 14 augusto» (1510, August 14), noting his age at the time of its creation: «de anni 17» (17 years old).

Boltraffio's Beautiful Study for a Female Figure

Another pupil, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, came from a noble and well-off family; for him, painting was an intellectual exercise rather than a means of livelihood. In Leonardo's workshop, he specialized in portraits. Among his works reproduced in this collection is a remarkable study of a female figure, known as the study for Saint Barbara. This drawing is one of the highest quality graphic proofs created at the court of Ludovico il Moro and was commissioned to Boltraffio in 1502 for the Milanese church of Santa Maria di San Satiro. The drawing is traditionally believed to be a portrait of Isabella of Aragon, wife of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, a plausible hypothesis, even though the artist used Isabella as a model for Saint Barbara.

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and His Circle - Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Collection)": I disegni di Leonardo e della sua cerchia alla Biblioteca Ambrosiana di Milano facsimile edition, published by Electa, 1981

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I disegni di Leonardo e della sua cerchia alla Biblioteca Ambrosiana di Milano

Milan: Electa, 1981

  • Commentary (Italian) by Cogliani Arano, Luisa; Marinoni, Augusto
  • Limited Edition: 999 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and His Circle - Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Collection): the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

Published by Arcadia Edizioni, Gruppo Editoriale Electa.

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