Page:Hind - Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, 1907.djvu/16

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THE DRAWINGS OF LEONARDO DA VINCI
 

among all the figures in Leonardo's Adoration of the Magi in the Louvre turns away from the scene and looks towards the spectator, is a portrait of Leonardo himself. Botticelli reproduced his own features in a figure similarly placed in his Adoration of the Magi.

The largest collection ot Leonardo da Vinci's drawings is in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. They are not accessible to the public in general, but under certain conditions they may be examined. Other collections are in the Louvre, the British Museum, the Uffizi, the Royal Library at Turin, the Venice Academy, and in the portfolios of private collectors such as M. Bonnat of Paris, and Dr. Mond of London. The drawings in the Print Room of the British Museum, which are easily available to students, include the remarkable Head of a Warrior in profile, from the Malcolm Collection, which is reproduced in this volume. This beautiful and minutely finished head and bust in silver-point belongs to Leonardo's early period, when he was still under the influence of his master, Verrocchio. Indeed, there is a resemblance between this arrogant warrior and the head of Verrocchio's statue of Colleoni at Venice; it has been suggested by Dr. Gronau that this profile represents an effort of the pupil to show Verrocchio the manner in which he would have handled the task. Be that as it may, this drawing is a striking example of how, in the hands of a master, the most profuse and detailed decoration can be made subservient to the main theme. The eye follows with delight the exquisite imaginative drawing in armour and helm. Nothing is insistent; nothing is superfluous. Every quaint and curious detail leads up to the firm contour of the face. Leonardo saw the theme as a whole, and the decorator's ingenuity has throughout remained subservient to the artist's vision. It is War quiescent, as Rodin's famous group is War militant. The British Museum also contains a sheet of those grotesque heads, specimens of which are reproduced in this volume, horrible faces of men and women grimacing and screeching at one another, with protruding lips and beak-like chins, looming from the discoloured paper. In a drawing at Milan there are two sketches of a combat, a man on horseback fighting a grotesque animal, that are startling in their power of arrested movement. There are also drawings of fearful wild-fowl, dragons, and the like, snarling at one another and making frightful onslaught. Critics have tried to explain the reason why Leonardo gazed into these gulfs, but the explanation is probably nothing more than the fertility and fecundity of his imagination. The grotesque and the terrible often have an attraction for gifted minds, forming a relief from the endless quest after beauty and the