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This summer the Royal Collection will present Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of a Man, an exhibition that will place a selection of Leonardo da Vinci’s (1452-1519) anatomical drawings alongside modern 3D films as well as CT and MRI scans of the human body. Da Vinci worked tirelessly to gain an understanding of the inner workings of the human body, often dissecting corpses and recording his findings in comprehensive drawings. The Mechanics of a Man will illustrate how deeply the Renaissance master came to understand human anatomy through his exhaustive studies.

The drawings, which will go on view at the Queen’s Gallery Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, are part of the Royal Collection and many have never been exhibited in Britain. The drawings were brought to England during the 17th century, bound into an album, and most likely purchased by King Charles II. The works, which include da Vinci’s Anatomical Manuscript A, 18 sheets crammed with 240 drawings and nearly 13,000 words of notes, have been in the Royal Collection since at least 1690.

Although da Vinci’s scientific findings were never published, he came extraordinarily close to discovering the role of the beating heart in circulating blood throughout the body. He also recorded accurately for the first time cirrhosis of the liver and narrowing of the arteries after dissecting a 100-year-old man in 1508. In 1510-1511, while working as a professor of anatomy, he created many multi-layered drawings portraying nearly every bone in the body, accurately depicting the spine for the first time as well as many of the major muscle groups.

The Mechanics of Man will present da Vinci’s famous drawing of a baby in a womb alongside a 3D ultrasound scan of a fetus. The exhibition will also place his drawings of a hand, which include the layers of bones, muscles, and tendons, beside a film of a dissected hand in high definition 3D. The exhibition will vividly illustrate just how groundbreaking da Vinci’s work was.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of a Man will be on view from August 2, 2013 through November 10, 2013.

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