Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019.

Why is Leonardo da Vinci’s scientific legacy so often overlooked? – Martin Clayton

Da Vinci is remembered five hundred years after his death for his artworks, but he was also a scientist, working across anatomy, engineering, and architecture, to name a few.

It’s been 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci, and he’s remembered mainly for his great works of art, like The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But he was also a scientist, working across disciplines like anatomy, engineering, and architecture.

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Sadly, his scientific research was never published and his engineering ambitions went largely unrealised. However, through his sketches and drawings we can see his anatomical discoveries, his plans for machines, and his investigations into the world around him. We can see what was occupying his mind, allowing us to piece together clues about the mysteries he aspired to solve.

So to mark the anniversary of his death, 200 of those drawings will go on display at the Queen’s Gallery next to Buckingham Palace in the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing. In this episode, BBC Science Focus editorial assistant Helen Glenny talked to Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings for Royal Collection Trust at Windsor Castle, about da Vinci’s lasting scientific legacy, what work he was doing, how he influenced the scientific disciplines he experimented with, and what we should remember him for.

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