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    A Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in Venice in 2013

    Did He Mean to Do That? Leonardo Da Vinci's Thumbprint Found on UK Drawing

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    May 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci and the British Library will be displaying a collection of the Italian artist's notebooks.

    A new book about da Vinci has also been published and it reveals that the artist's thumbprint was discovered on one of his drawings, which is part of the Royal Collection in London.

    The book, by Alan Donnithorne, former head of paper conservation at the Royal Collection, analyses 80 of the Renaissance master's drawings using X-ray fluorescence, microscopy and ultraviolet imaging.

    The thumbprint was found on "The cardiovascular system and principal organs of a woman," an anatomical drawing by Leonardo which was sketched in 1510.

    People viewing the Vitruvian Man drawing by Leonardo da Vinci in a Venice art gallery in 2013
    © AFP 2019 /
    People viewing the Vitruvian Man drawing by Leonardo da Vinci in a Venice art gallery in 2013

    Mr. Donnithorne said the print is in the same ink as that used for the drawing.

    ​"It can only be concluded that, after creating the work, the left-handed Leonardo picked up the sheet with inky fingers," said Mr. Donnithorne.

    Last summer experts in Italy said they had found the earliest surviving work by da Vinci — a small glazed terracotta tile, described as a self-portrait of the artist as the Archangel Gabriel, which was created in 1471.

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    inks, painting, Leonardo da Vinci, Queen Elizabeth II, Italy, London
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