- Museum number
A man blowing a trumpet into the ear of a nude man, and two seated men
Pen and brown ink, over stylus sketch
- Production date
Height: 258 millimetres
Width: 193 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Lit.: J.C. Robinson, 'Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters, forming the Collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, Esq.', London, 1876, no. 42; A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 106, II, pl. CII (with previous literature); A.E. Popham, in exhib. cat., London, Royal Academy, 'Leonardo da Vinci quincentenary exhibition', 1952, no. 31; M. Koshikawa and H. Kurita, in exhib. cat., Tokyo and Nagoya, 'Italian 16th and 17th Century Drawings', 1996, no. 1 (with further literature)
Popham & Pouncey 1950
This drawing, and six others (Bodmer 134,137,140,141 (both drawings) and 142), all contain studies of seated men arguing. The fact that on Bodmer 134 the group of two disputants is expanded into one of five, at a table, and that below them is a separate study of a man, also at a table, pointing to a plate, clearly suggests a 'Last Supper'. On the other hand, the motive of two arguing men, one of them seated, can be made out in the Uffizi drawing for the 'Adoration' (Bodmer 139), on the far side of the top of the nearer steps. Furthermore, the studies on the verso of Bodmer 134 (Bodmer 135) are indisputably connected with the 'Adoration'. It is quite possible, as Berenson ('Text', p. 174) says, that "as early, at least, as 1481, Leonardo was already pondering over the problem of how the 'Last Supper' should be represented".
The man blowing a trumpet into the ear of another has also been regarded as a motive for the background of the 'Adoration'. Men blowing trumpets can be made out in the background on the r. in the Louvre composition sketch (Bodmer 132), but they are shepherds, which our figures do not appear to be. Thiis, who is one of those who connect our drawing with the 'Adoration', suggests an interpretation which takes into account all four figures. He tentatively suggests that the juxtaposition of the two pairs is deliberate, "an allegorical expression of the contrast between the noisy trumpeting which deafens without convincing, and the quiet, intelligent explanation which brings forward reasons inducing even the most unwilling to listen". The juxtaposition of the two pairs on a single plane may be deliberate; but, if so, it is difficult to see how the whole group would fit into the elaborate perspective of the 'Adoration'. If the two pairs are to be taken together it seems to us more likely that they form an independent allegory, like those at Christ Church (Bodmer 156-9), on one of which (Bodmer 157) the trumpet motive does in fact occur.
Literature: JCR 42; BB 1036; B.M. Guide, 1895, no. 37; Comm. Vinciana, ii (1930), 59; Bodmer 136; Popham 46; Clark, Windsor, under no. 12702; Popp 15; Thiis, pp. 204 f.; Lawrence Gallery, Fifth Exhibition, no. 66; Nicodemi, pl. 60; Bottari, pl. 48; Giglioli, p. 100, pl. LXVII; Müller-Walde, p. 132; Seidlitz, i, p. 197; Poggi, pl. 67; Venturi, pp. 91 f.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1879 May-Jun, Paris, École des Beaux-Arts, 'Des Dessins de Maîtres Anciens', no. 40
1952, London, Royal Academy, no.31
1996 Feb-Apr, Tokyo, Nat Mus Western Art, Italian Drawings/BM, no.1
1996 Apr-May, Nagoya, Aichi Pref Mus of Art, Italian Drawings /BM, no. 1
2003 Jan-April, New York, Met Mus of Art, Leonardo da Vinci
2003 May-July, Paris, Musée du Louvre, Léonard de Vinci, no. 29
2013, Aug-Dec, Venice, Gallerie dell' Accademia, 'Dall'Uomo Vitruviano'
2018-2019 5 Oct-6 Jan, Haarlem, Teylers Museum, Leonardo da Vinci as a physiognomist
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number