Study of the Star of Bethlehem

Study of the Star of Bethlehem c1506

Several varieties of plants are represented in this drawing, the main study being of a Star of Bethlehem. The careful detail with which the elements of this plant have been recorded demonstrates Leonardo’s reverence for the complexity and perfection of its natural forms.

The leaves convey the dynamic sense of spiralling movement that fascinated Leonardo, as attested to in many drawings by the artist, conveying as it does the motion of natural processes inherent in natural forms.

The identity of the other plants in the drawing is unclear, but they are likely to be a crowfoot to the left of the star, a wood anemone to the right, and below, the flowers and seed-pods of a Euphorbia.

The drawing, which is one of Leonardo’s most beautiful nature studies, is connected to the lush vegetation in the foreground of the lost Leda and the Swan, which is known only through copies and preparatory drawings.

  • Medium Red chalk, reworked with pen and ink
  • Size 19.6 x 15.8 cm
  • Location The Royal Collection

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