The Extraordinary Book of Doors (one of my current “works in progress” that isn’t getting much work or progress, alas) I’ve discovered that Leonardo would have had access to a mythical beast sanctuary patronised by his own patron, Francis I of France and Francis’s good friend the Abbess of Tarascon.
basilisk, dragon, unicorn, phoenix, jaculus, and lots more. After extensive on-line searching for digitised copies or pictures of the sketches that illustrated these writings, I’m beginning to suspect that perhaps Leonardo didn’t illustrate his bestiary at all. So here for you to enjoy are some of his unconnected drawings of creatures.
Leonardo was clearly a man who was not only intensely curious about the observable facts of nature, but also equally enthusiastic about the visions of his imagination. I believe this is a common theme among the most creative thinkers throughout history.
[Pictures: Two mechanical models based on sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, photos by AEGN;
Study of a dragon, pen and ink and metalpoint sketch by Leonardo, 1513 (Image from Universal Leonardo);
Detail from Cats, lions, and a dragon, pen and ink wash over black chalk by Leonardo, c 1513-15.
Young woman seated with a unicorn, pen and ink sketch by Leonardo, 1479 (Image from Universal Leonardo).]