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Leonardo Drawing, Portrait Mark 500 Years Since His Death

Visitors look at a portrait drawing of Italian Renaissance painter, scientist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci in Rome, May 2, 2019. Leonardo died 500 years ago in Amboise, France, on May 2, 1519. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Leonardo Drawing, Portrait Mark 500 Years Since His Death
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Art lovers around the world are remembering Leonardo da Vinci. He died in France 500 years ago, on May 2, 1519.

A British art expert announced on Thursday that Britain’s royal family has a portrait of the famous artist, often known simply as Leonardo.

Martin Clayton, a royal art adviser, said the portrait’s owner is Queen Elizabeth II. He added that the image was made by one of Leonardo’s assistants shortly before his death.

Clayton said the “straight nose” and other details look very much like the only other known portrait of Leonardo done in his lifetime. That picture was the work of Italian painter Francesco Melzi.

Visitors to London’s Buckingham Palace will have a chance to see the portrait for themselves later this month. It will be on display at the Queen’s Gallery with about 200 drawings from her collection of Leonardo’s works. The show opens on May 24 and continues until October 13.

On Thursday, the presidents of Italy and France gathered in the French town of Amboise to mark the anniversary of the artist’s death. He spent the final years of his life in the town.

Today art lovers around the world are celebrating Leonardo’s work. He is considered a true Renaissance man, working not only as an artist, but as a scientist and inventor.

“There really hasn’t been anybody then or since who has combined this extraordinary genius for these totally different areas,” said Gregory Rubinstein. He is the worldwide head of Old Master drawings at Sotheby’s auction house.

“I think that’s what’s at the heart of our fascination.”

Sotheby’s announced Thursday that an important, rarely seen Leonardo drawing is going on display in its New York offices next month.

The drawing, called “Leda and the Swan,” was painted in 1506. It is based on a story from Greek mythology. It has not been show in public since 2003.

Leonardo appears to have made the painting while he was also working on Mona Lisa, his most well-known painting. The Mona Lisa hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Rubenstein said the “very complete and very beautiful” drawing appears to have been preparatory work for a painting that was never made or was lost.

“It’s a very mysterious one because there is no surviving record…and no painting survives,” he said.

The New York exhibition opens on June 28 and will continue through September 18.

I’m Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

portrait – n. a painting, drawing, or photograph of a person that usually only includes the person's head and shoulders

royal – adj. of or relating to a king or queen

drawing – n. a picture, image, etc., that is made by making lines on a surface with a pencil, pen, marker, chalk, etc., but usually not with paint

Renaissance – n. the period of European history between the 14th and 17th centuries when there was a new interest in science and in ancient art and literature especially in Italy

fascination – n. to be very interested in something or someone

mythology – n. ideas that are believed by many people but that are not true