Executed in several different media, the 91 drawings in this series broadly – and sometimes whimsically – cover the animal kingdom, including studies of dogs, cats, oxen and asses, as well as grotesque animals and dragons. This edition, however, is aimed at conveying the particular fascination that horses have always held for Leonardo. In about 1630, the bulk of what remained from Leonardo’s original studies on the horse entered the collection of Charles I of England.
That extraordinary collection became known to scholars when the first exhibition of a selection of the drawings was organised in London in 1878. At the turn of the century, the first facsimiles began to appear, but it was only in 1935 that Kenneth Clark published his definitive catalogue of the entire Leonardo collection at Windsor Castle.