Arm, hand and sleeve of drapery

Arm, hand and sleeve of drapery 1508-12

This delicate study of a right arm outstretched to the right appears to be a preparatory study for the arm of the Virgin in the Madonna, Child, St. Anne with a Lamb, Louvre. It has been executed in an incredibly dense combination of media. Leonardo seems to have begun to model the forms with charcoal or black chalk, rubbing the strokes together to achieve a sfumato, or “smoky”, effect, then reworking areas with brush and brown wash, before accenting the outlines with pen and ink.

White gouache highlights indicate the flimsy gauze-like material of the sleeve, and articulate its complex folds and creases. The subtle effects achieved in this drawing correspond closely to Leonardo’s later studies of optics.

  • Medium Charcoal and orange red chalk, brush with ink and brown wash, heightened with white gouache
  • Size 16.7 x 84 cm
  • Location The Royal Collection

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