Birch Copse - by Leonardo da Vinci

Kenneth Clark, a distinguished scholar of Leonardo, said of this drawing:"Technically it is a miracle." How, he asks, could Leonardo sharpen a piece of red chalk so finely that he could show the boughs and leaves of the trees with such luminous clarity? The notebook containing this drawing dates from 1498 - 1502 and contains other similar drawings of trees in groups. It is not known if it was produced for any particular painting, but it is one of the finest groups of trees ever drawn. Other artists certainly knew of it at the time and there are pieces of work in Milan by some of Leonardo's followers that have very similar trees painted in them. The brilliance of this group of trees, giving just the right amount of tactile information with its chiaroscuro, and the skilful handling of clumps of leaves feathering off the branches, is a valuable record of the talent and perception of this great Renaissance artist.