This is the second Royal Collection collaboration for Dr. Philo, who annotated a 1992 volume, "Leonardo da Vinci: The Anatomy of Man," which has been translated into French, Spanish and Japanese. A portion of the anatomical sketches being shown in Vancouver traveled to Houston in 1992, and the host museum wanted a local anatomist to be the commentator on a new book about them. A colleague in 1991 recommended Dr. Philo to Martin Clayton, beginning a 19-year partnership.
Years later, Leonardo still holds Dr. Philo's fascination.
Amazing detail, given the era
"Leonardo's drawings are so precise they appear to have been drawn robotically," Dr. Philo said. "They were not 100 percent correct, and much of that was probably because he was drawing from material that was not embalmed. You can't take days to do a dissection under those conditions. He did much of this work in the cool months of the year.
"He was ahead of his time," Dr. Philo added. "He was dissecting and drawing while others were not. He drew according to the medical philosophy of the day but didn't always agree with it."
Leonardo got even by making comments such as, "This is what is believed, but I've never seen it that way because it is too small," Dr. Philo said.
A self-taught dynamo
Artists of the day were not scholars and Leonardo was therefore self-taught, but he pushed the Renaissance envelope with creativity and curiosity.
"One cannot appreciate what a good artist he was," Dr. Philo said. "The closer you look at a sketch, the more detail there is. It is almost microscopic. He's not only a better artist than you have been told, he's a better artist than you can imagine."
|Contact: Will Sansom|
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio