Sprays of Oak Leaves and Acorns by Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo's drawings of plants are as informative as botanists' drawings, but are given greater life by the brilliance of his work. There is no doubt that this study is drawn from life; the dense chalk lines give plasticity and form to the leaves and acorns, almost like a bas-relief sculpture. This also gives it a rather formal, heraldic character while losing nothing of its naturalness. The drawing may have been used as a basis for the foliage in the painting Leda and the Swan, or possibly for a garland above The Last Supper. The sprig of dyer's greenwood on the left is also a wonderfully accurate drawing of the plant.