Ten Days, Ten Drawings and Ten Facts

We, the marketing team, thought we’d share with you some interesting facts we have found about Da Vinci while preparing for the opening of the exhibition. We thought it fitting to give you the best 10 facts as are there are 10 days to go (eeeek!), 10 students helping with the exhibition and of course the 10 drawings… you can see this is becoming our favourite number!

Leonardo facts

  • Bill Gates bought Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester in 1994 for $30 million. A few pages were used as screen saver on Windows 95.

codex leicester

Leonardo Da Vinci, Codex Leicester, Pen and Ink,  c. 1510

  • Allegedly, actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s name is Leonardo because when his mother was pregnant with him, she experienced his first kick standing in front of a Leonardo Da Vinci painting.


  • Leonardo Da Vinci was home-schooled and lacked a formal education in Greek and Latin. However, this clearly did not limit his extraordinary mind.


  • Da Vinci’s studies of river erosion convinced him that Earth is much older than the Bible implies. Therefore, his revolutionary inventions and discoveries were not the only controversial thing about him, he challenged religious ideas too.


  • Art historians have discovered that Leonardo Da Vinci seems to have signed his initials on the right pupil of the Mona Lisa. They can only be seen through a microscope.



  • Da Vinci was arrested when he was 24, on the charge of sodomy. His case was dismissed due to no witnesses.


  • Leonardo Da Vinci translates to ‘Leonardo of Vinci’, referring to the town in which he was born.


  • He was left handed and could write in reverse, which is how he wrote in many of his sketchbooks.

Studies for casting an equestrian monument (recto)

Leonardo da Vinci, Studies for casting an equestrian monument (recto); Further casting studies, and lines of poetry (verso) c.1492-3, Recto: Pen and ink with some notes in red chalk. Verso: Pen and ink, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016.

  • Da Vinci did things many would not in the name of research.. he reportedly stole corpses from graveyards to aid his study of the anatomy.

Recto: Vessels of the thorax, with comparison of the heart and a

Leonardo Da Vinci, Recto: The heart compared to a seed. Verso: The vessels of liver, spleen and kidneys  c.1508, pen and ink over black chalk, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016.

  • Leonardo produced maps which are still accurate today (e.g map of Cesare Borgia).
cesare borgia map
Leonardo Da Vinci, Town plan of Imola, c.1502

Looking forward to seeing you all at the exhibition to experience the work of this amazing man!

Claudia Hogg & Bethan Street

University of Nottingham


Meet your marketing team

intro blog pic

We would like to introduce ourselves as the main faces behind the blog and social media pages. From left to right: Claudia, Vicky and Bethan. In true student style it is very difficult to all be in the same place at once, especially now that term is over until September. So, this is our best attempt at a ‘group photo’!

Please take a moment to read about who we are and what we are doing in the ‘about the project’ tab. In short, we are a group of very excited Art History students alongside our amazing tutor, Dr Gabriele Neher. We have been lucky enough to get involved with one of the biggest exhibitions Nottingham Castle has ever put on: 10 original drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci, owned by the Royal Collection. As a way of introducing ourselves, we would like to tell you what our favourite drawing is and why…


It is almost impossible to try and decide a preference between these incredible drawings, but if I have to choose one it has got to be The expressions of fury in horses, a lion and a man c.1503-4 . I have a natural leaning towards this because of my personal connection with horses. My family has a history of owning and riding horses, so from a young age they have been one of my favourite animals. This meant that they were something that I would attempt to draw time and time again. My grandfather is an artist, and has always been of great influence to me. He used to tell me that horses were the most difficult animals to draw, which I think fuelled my determination to get it right!

However, if this is the case, you wouldn’t believe it when looking at Leonardo’s horses. In a time when photography didn’t exist, we know that all of Leonardo’s drawings are either studies from life or from his magnificent imagination. This makes the perfect proportions and outstanding sense of life and movement even more admirable. I cannot wait to see this drawing in the flesh.

expressions of fury in horses, a lion and a man

Leonardo Da Vinci, Expressions of fury in horses, a lion and a man c. 1503-4, pen and ink with wash and red chalk, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016.



My favourite drawing from these ten Leonardo Da Vinci drawings is The heart compared to the seed; The vessels of the liver, spleen and kidneys, c.1508. Anatomy has always fascinated me and I explored some of Da Vinci’s research during my A Levels when studying the body and beauty. Da Vinci plays a major role in understanding the human body as shown in this drawing. I like how this drawing displays his range of interests – anatomy was of high importance to Da Vinci. However, art and botany are also shown through his use of an analogy of a plant to reinforce his discoveries of where the centre of the vascular system is. My favourite aspect of this sketch is Da Vinci’s delicate, intricate drawing technique that he completed with pen and ink over black chalk, as well as showcasing his unique writing style through his annotations.

The discovery of the centre of the vascular system as well as many other findings from Da Vinci has had a huge influence on the medical world. Mark, my brother, is currently studying biomedical engineering at King’s College London. I asked for his perspective on the drawing. If unaware this was artwork Mark said he would have considered it a sketch from an anatomy book. This brings to light the question of what art is while showing Leonardo’s versatility in combining both science and art. Some may believe that Da Vinci was the first biomedical engineer – his work is still significant today.

Leonardo Da Vinci, Recto: The heart compared to a seed. Verso: The vessels of liver, spleen and kidneys  c.1508, pen and ink over black chalk, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016.


Please keep an eye out for our social media pages, where we will keep you updated with the progress of the exhibition.  We hope you are as excited as us for this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition!

Instagram: @tenstudentsandtenleonardos

Twitter: @tenstudents


Claudia Hogg & Bethan Street

University of Nottingham