Leonardo’s female figure studies: wind and beauty

Here is a series of studies that Leonardo da Vinci produced on the female figure.

In his “Treatise on Painting”, the brilliant polymath explained Women are to be represented in modest and reserved attitudes, with their knees rather close, their arms drawing near each other, or folded about the body; their heads looking downwards, and leaning a little on one side.

To fully grasp the beauty of their face, You must not mark any muscles with hardness of line, but let the soft light glide upon them, and terminate imperceptibly in delightful shadows: from this will arise grace and beauty to the face.

Leave off affected curls and hair styles, Leonardo further instructs, or you will end up like those who have always as their adviser the mirror and the comb, while the wind, as it tosses and tangles their smartly dressed hair, is their greatest enemy.

Depict hair which an imaginary wind causes to play about youthful faces, and adorn heads you paint with curling locks of various kinds.

Leonardo da Vinci, disegni, donne - drawings, women

"Study for Woman's Head", Louvre Museum, Paris

Leonardo da Vinci, disegni, donne - drawings, women

"Woman's Head, study for the Angel of the Virgin of the Rocks", Royal Library, Turin

Leonardo da Vinci, disegni, donne - drawings, women

"Study for a Woman's Head", Royal Collection, Windsor

Leonardo da Vinci, disegni, donne - drawings, women

"Study for Leda's Head", Royal Collection, London

Leonardo da Vinci, disegni, donne - drawings, women

"Study for the Madonna of the Yarnwinder", Drawings and Prints Cabinet at the Uffizi, Florence

Leonardo da Vinci, disegni, donne - drawings, women

"Study of a Young Woman's Profile", Royal Collection, Windsor

Leonardo da Vinci, disegni, donne - drawings, women

"Woman's Head", Drawings and Prints Cabinet at the Uffizi, Florence

Leonardo da Vinci, disegni, donne - drawings, women

"Woman's Head", detail

Leonardo da Vinci, disegni, donne - drawings, women

"Study for a Woman's Head", Drawings and Prints Cabinet at the Uffizi, Florence

Leonardo da Vinci, disegni, donne - drawings, women

"Study for a Woman's Head", Royal Collection, Windsor

Leonardo da Vinci, disegni, donne - drawings, women

"Study for the Madonna of the Cat", Drawings and Prints Cabinet at the Uffizi, Florence

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