Leda and the Swan

This is another lost painting by Leonardo. We have a few sketches by his own hand and many copies of the actual painting by others. He supposedly painted or at least planned to paint two different versions. One is 1504 the other in 1508. 


"The mythical Leda was seduced by Jupiter in the form of a swan. Leonardo worked on two compositions of the subject, finally executing a painting that was destroyed in the eighteenth century. In the four surviving studies of Leda's head, Leonardo expended little effort on her expression, simply adopting the usual downward glance; in the central two drawings he may even have left the face blank, for the faces there are of poor quality and may have been 'filled in' by a pupil. Instead Leonardo devoted all his attention to the most complicated of hairstyles, with dense whorls and woven plaits, even studying the head from the back - quite unnecessarily for a painted image." - Description from Royalcollection.org.uk

Leo's sketches of Leda:

Leda and the Swan, pen and ink and wash over black chalk on paper, 160 x 139 mm. 1503 - 1507, Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth

Study for kneeling Leda, black chalk, pen and ink on paper, 126 x 109 cm. 1503 - 1507, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Studies of Leda and a Horse, black chalk, brush and ink on paper, 1503 - 1507, Royal Library, Windsor


A sketch of Leo's Leda by Raphael 

 The French royal Château de Fontainebleau in 1625 by Cassiano dal Pozzo described the lost painting:

A standing figure of Leda almost entirely naked, with the swan at her and two eggs, from whose broken shells come forth four babies, This work, although somewhat dry in style, is exquisitely finished, especially in the woman's breast; and for the rest of the landscape and the plant life are rendered with the greatest diligence. Unfortunately the picture is in a bad state because it is done on three long panels which have split apart and broken off a certain amount of paint." -wikipedia