DRAWINGS by Leonardo da Vinci are to go on display in Leeds to mark the 500th anniversary of his death.

A total of 144 of the Renaissance master's greatest drawings in the Royal Collection will go on display in 12 simultaneous exhibitions across the UK in February next year.

Leeds Art Gallery will be one of the venues for the nationwide event Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing - which aims to give the widest-ever UK audience the chance to see the work of the extraordinary artist.

Twelve drawings, selected to reflect the full range of Leonardo's interests?–?painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany?–?will be shown in Leeds, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton, Sunderland, with one further venue to be announced, from February 1 to May 6.

The exhibition at Leeds Art Gallery will focus on Leonardo da Vinci’s activity as a pioneering sculptor. Although no sculptures by Leonardo survive his ability to think through his drawings and bring to bear his scientific and engineering knowledge on the making of sculpture - including his proposal for the towering Sforza equestrian monument in Milan - put him at the leading edge of this art in his day.

The Leeds display will be a prelude to the Yorkshire Sculpture International from June 2019. Leeds Art Gallery is one of four organisations involved in the region-wide exhibition, which is described as one of the most ambitious ever seen in the North. Also involved are the Henry Moore Institute, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and The Hepworth Wakefield.

Leeds City Council Leader Judith Blake, said: "In Leeds we’re thrilled to be working with Royal Collection Trust for the second time to host a selection of these stupendous drawings that demonstrate the genius that was Leonardo, and on this occasion, focusing on his sculptural thinking, providing a unique prelude to this region’s Yorkshire Sculpture International which is funded through Arts Council England’s Ambitions for Excellence scheme. This is a great opportunity for people across Leeds to access such a fantastic collection."

All the drawings by Leonardo in the Royal Collection were bound into a single album by the Spanish sculptor Pompeo Leoni in Milan around 1590 and entered the Collection during the reign of Charles II. The exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing will include examples of all the drawing materials employed by the artist, including pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metalpoint.

They will also present new information about Leonardo's working practices and creative process, gathered through scientific research using a range of non-invasive techniques, including ultraviolet imaging, infrared reflectography and X-ray fluorescence.

Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings, Royal Collection Trust, said, "The drawings of Leonardo da Vinci are a national treasure, both incredibly beautiful and the main source of our knowledge of the artist. We hope that as many people as possible across the UK will take this unique opportunity to see these extraordinary works, which allow us to enter one of the greatest minds in history, and to understand the man and his achievements."