*The Head of Leda,* circa 1505–08. The drawing is currently on view at Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool as part of the exhibition series “Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing,” on view through May 6.
Photo: Flickr

These Beautiful New Postage Stamps Feature the Sketches of Leonardo da Vinci

Issued in the U.K. by the Royal Mail, the new stamps commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance painter’s death

To honor the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, the United Kingdom’s postal service, the Royal Mail, has issued a beautiful set of postage stamps featuring drawings from the brilliant artist’s notebooks.

The set of 12 stamps from the Royal Mail featuring drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. Photo: Courtesy of the Royal Mail

There are 12 stamps total, each corresponding to a drawing in a multi-institutional series of exhibitions titled “Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing,” on view through May 6. There are 12 institutions participating, each exhibiting one piece. The Royal Collection, which owns the drawings, houses over 550 of the master artist’s sketches in the Print Room at Windsor Castle. Painstakingly preserved over the years, these works have remained in almost perfect condition.

The skeleton, circa 1510–11. The original drawing is on view at Cymru/National Museum Wales in Cardiff. Photo: Courtesy of the Royal Mail

Of the many featured drawings—which range from sketches of saints to flora and fauna and detailed studies in anatomy and physics—several include his “mirror-image” notes to self, which Leonardo, who was left-handed, famously wrote from right to left.

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One of the drawings on view, The Head of St. Philip (circa 1495), is a study for The Last Supper and depicts the reaction of Saint Philip to Jesus’ announcement of his imminent betrayal. Painted on the wall of the monastic church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, the artist’s greatest completed work has slowly faded following centuries of exposure to the elements and desperate restoration attempts, yet this drawing remains in immaculate condition, capturing all of Da Vinci’s original intention.

The Head of St. Philip, circa 1495. The original drawing is on view at Millennium Gallery in Sheffield. Photo: Courtesy of the Royal Mail

“Five hundred years after his death, Leonardo’s drawings continue to inspire and intrigue us,” said Philip Parker of the Royal Mail in a statement. “We are delighted to feature 12 of the finest examples from the Royal Collection on these stamps.”

The stamps are now for sale through the Royal Mail.

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