APP OF THE DAY: Explore Leonardo da Vinci's famous sketches with new Anatomy app


The Queen’s Gallery in London is currently exhibiting a number of fascinating anatomical sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, some of which have never even been displayed before (like, EVER). In order to make the collection more accessible to his fans, as well as art and science enthusiasts, The Royal Collection has developed an impressive, interactive app for the iPad, Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy.

Most people know Leonardo da Vinci as the greatest artist and mind of the Renaissance period, but in actual fact he was also one of the most original and perceptive anatomists of all time. Over the course of his life he made a series of sketches and discoveries, which if uncovered shortly after could well have shaped European knowledge of the subject. But instead his work in the field was lost among his private notes for almost 400 years. Now these incredibly detailed, accurate and in many ways ground-breaking, sketches are part of the Royal Collection and are being exhibited for the next few months at The Queen’s Gallery in London.

Shiny Shiny was invited along to the gallery and although it was a great opportunity to take a look at Leonardo da Vinci’s work for ourselves, we also got some time to try out the new iPad app all about the exhibition. The Royal Collection worked closely with the application developers over at Touch Press in order to create a one-of-a-kind offering that doesn’t just allow users to see Leonardo’s work, but enables them to interact with the sketches and learn much more in the process.

The application, called Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy features all 268 pages of his sketches, but it’s their super high resolution that’s been optimised for the iPad’s new Retina Display which makes the app such a treat for the eyes.

Every aspect of the application is super interactive, you can scroll through pages, move sketches around, view them in 3D, enlarge them, play sections as animations and even translate Leonardo’s secret notes into English. There’s even a quirky spyglass tool, which you can move around the drawings in order to magnify certain elements. However, our favourite feature is that you can spin the body around (see the screenshot above), strip down certain elements of the model’s anatomy with a simple swipe and then click on them to see all of the sketches associated with that body part. Very clever.

Although they’re clearly the main focus, the app isn’t just about looking at the sketches, there’s a detailed commentary written by Martin Clayton, Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at Windsor Castle, accompanying the content, which explains Leonardo’s anatomical investigations in much more detail.

At £9.99 there’s no denying this app is pricey, but for the access you’re getting to the sketches, the impressive image quality with the new iPad’s Retina Display and the chance to properly interact with the work it’s definitely worth it for fans of Leonardo’s work and those interested in anatomy.

Available from the app store for £9.99.

Find out more about the Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist exhibition.

Becca Caddy