The Queen owns priceless art treasures and thanks to her ancestors’ collecting habits the Royal Collection is one of the largest and most important art collections in the world.
The Royal Collection contains the greatest collection of da VInci drawings, a group of 550 drawings that have remained together since his death in 1519 and rarely shown so they are in excellent condition. At his death in 1519, Da VInci left all his drawings to his pupil Francesco Melzi who kept them faithfully until his own death when the sculptor Pompeo Leoni acquired them and mounted them in at least 2 albums. By 1630 one of the albums had reached England into the collection of the Earl of Arundel until around 1670 when Charles ll acquired it, perhaps as a gift from the Earl but ‘acquired’ is a little vague in the royal context! King Charles II was keen buyer and acquirer of art and his interest in these drawings was a master stroke. In the 1900s they were removed from the album but luckily it was kept and preserved and here it is, on proud display. Its contents remain an unbroken group as they were in 1519.