About this artwork

Leonardo used both sides of the paper for his detailed studies of a dog's left forepaw. The paw, probably of a deerhound, is shown from a variety of angles. This is typical of Leonardo's analytical approach to the natural world, which he explored through extensive, and often annotated, drawings. Here Leonardo used metalpoint - a technique which required considerable control, for it was difficult to correct lines drawn with the metal (usually silver) stylus on specially prepared paper. The faint TL stamp, lower left, confirms the drawing, made around 1480, later formed part the drawings collection formed by the British painter Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830).

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Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo's numerous skills defy easy categorisation; truly 'universal' in his interests, he was an extraordinarily gifted painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, inventor, writer, musician and natural scientist. His notebooks and drawings reflect his insatiable curiosity about the natural world. He travelled from Florence, having trained in Andrea del Verrocchio's workshop, to Milan, and later moved to France, where he was painter and engineer to King Francis I. Leonardo's perfectionism and experimental methods resulted in few completed projects. His 'Mona Lisa' (Louvre, Paris) and 'Last Supper' (Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan) are among the most famous paintings ever produced.