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It is well known that Leonardo da Vinci made several drawings of the human male anatomy. The early drawings (before 1500) were incorrect in identifying the origin of semen, where he followed accepted teaching of his time. It is widely thought that he did not correct this mistake, a view that is reflected in several biographies. In fact, he made a later drawing (after 1500) in which the description of the anatomy is remarkably accurate and must have been based on careful dissection. In addition to highlighting this fact, acknowledged previously in only one other source, this article reviews the background to Leonardo's knowledge of the relevant anatomy.

Original publication




Journal article


Notes Rec R Soc Lond

Publication Date





391 - 402


Anatomy, Artistic, History, 15th Century, History, 16th Century, Humans, Male, Semen