Leonardo da Vinci

Da Vinci's original drawings

Oct 05, 2018 to Jan 06, 2019

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) is without a doubt the most famous artist of all time. On the eve of the 500th anniversary of his death, Teylers Museum is mounting a lavish exhibition, with over thirty magnificent drawings by Leonardo himself and a similar number by his contemporaries and followers. These superb Renaissance artworks are coming to Haarlem from collections all over the world – for just three months

Real people

Leonardo was the first Renaissance artist to use ‘real’ people for his Biblical scenes. His apostles, angels, and Madonnas were often based on people from his immediate surroundings. Real people with real emotions. From a wonderful Mona Lisa-like young woman and powerful warriors in the heat of battle to caricatural sketches: driven by curiosity, Leonardo studied an enormously diverse range of characters. His drawings and those of his contemporaries demonstrate clearly that he was very much ahead of his time.

The exhibition’s guest curator is Michael Kwakkelstein, director of the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence and a leading authority in this field.

The Last Supper

Particularly striking are the three preparatory studies for The Last Supper, including the portrait of Judas. Teylers Museum has dedicated an entire room to this world-famous mural, in the form of a replica –  the mural itself obviously cannot be moved – in the original size (4.6 x 8.8 metres). Directly opposite it will be a life-sized replica of the remarkable version of The Last Supper from the abbey in Tongerlo. This setup helps to shed light on what Leonardo sought to convey with his ground-breaking work of art.

Teylers as seen through Leonardo’s eyes

Leonardo would have thought himself ‘in heaven’ in Teylers Museum, said the Da Vinci biographer, during his own visit to the museum: ‘It’s the perfect temple for art and science.’ Leonardo was not only an artist, he was also an inventor and researcher with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. He filled his famous notebooks with writings and drawings on an extraordinary range of subjects. How would this Homo universalis have responded to the fossils, rocks, and scientific instruments in the collection of Teylers Museum? There will also be a special display highlighting Leonardo’s fascination with anatomy.