The foetus in the womb

The foetus in the womb c1510-12

Leonardo had access through dissection to a human foetus of approximately seven months, and represented it in a group of surviving drawings from various viewpoints.

Here, in the main drawing, the uterus and embryonic membranes are shown bursting magically open like the coverings of a germinating bud to reveal a foetus in the breech position, with the umbilical cord coiled in a serpentine line.

The cotyledons of the placenta are observed from the uterus of a cow, and are added to the human foetus to produce as comprehensive an image as possible of the reproductive system.

  • Medium Pen and ink over red chalk
  • Size 30.5 x 22 cm
  • Location The Royal Collection

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