Anatomical studies of a male shoulder (c.1509; Milan, Italy) by Leonardo da Vinci

Anatomical studies of a male shoulder - Leonardo da Vinci - c.1509; Milan, Italy

Artwork Information

TitleAnatomical studies of a male shoulder
ArtistLeonardo da Vinci
Datec.1509; Milan, Italy
Dimensions29.2 x 19.8 cm
Art MovementHigh Renaissance

About Anatomical studies of a male shoulder

The artwork, “Anatomical studies of a male shoulder,” was conceived in circa 1509 by the iconic High Renaissance Master Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, Italy. This fine piece manifests in ink on paper, measuring 29.2 by 19.8 centimeters. It is characterized as both a sketch and a study, reflecting da Vinci’s fascinations with human anatomy and his pursuit of scientific understanding through art.

The artwork comprises detailed sketches which vividly depict the musculature and structure of the male shoulder. The main drawing shows a lean, detailed figure from the waist up, devoid of skin on the upper torso to reveal the intricate layering of muscles and tendons. The figure’s pose is slightly turned, with one arm raised, which accentuates the movement and tension across the shoulder muscles, a portrayal of the human body’s biomechanics. The rugged strokes and hatching techniques are indicative of the observational precision with which da Vinci approached his subjects.

Surrounding the central figure are additional studies focusing on the shoulder from various angles and detailing the arm’s mechanics. Smaller sketches highlight individual muscle groups and bone structure, revealing da Vinci’s method of breaking down complex forms into comprehensible elements.

Annotations in mirrored writing envelop the figures, indicative of da Vinci’s habit of writing backwards, a testament to his unique approach to recording his observations and thoughts. The notes, likely exploring theories of movement and anatomy, annotate the visual information, emphasizing the artwork’s role as both an artistic expression and a scientific exploration. It’s clear that beyond its visual significance, this piece also serves as a document of the artist’s relentless inquiry into the workings of the human body, a characteristic endeavor of the Renaissance intellect.

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