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Thursday, 14 February, 2002, 12:50 GMT
Hidden da Vincis start UK tour
Neptune
Neptune is one of the 10 drawings to be released
A collection of 10 Leonardo da Vinci drawings kept by the Queen begin a tour of the UK on Friday as part of Golden Jubilee celebrations.

The 10 pictures are usually kept in a Windsor Castle vault away from damaging bright lights.

Branch of blackberries
A branch of blackberries was a preliminary drawing for a later painting
But the public will have the first chance to see the pictures at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight, Merseyside.

The pictures have been held in trust by the Royal Family since before 1690 and are thought to have been acquired during the reign of Charles II.

Among those going on display are The Head of a Young Man (1508-10), Studies of a horse (1490), A Scene from the Last Judgement (1515) and The Anatomy of the Shoulder (1510).

Anatomy of a shoulder
Da Vinci studied human anatomy

Martin Clayton, assistant curator of the Print Room at Windsor Castle, said: "Leonardo was one of the most amazing chaps there has been and there seems to be an irresistible appetite for him.

Describing the artist as a "mythical character", he said the "drawings are things we can get right up close to and get some idea of the workings of his mind".

The tour will travel to Yorkshire, Wales and Northern Ireland for the remainder of the year.

The 2002 Golden Jubilee, a celebration of the Queen's 50 years on the throne, will also include the development of two art galleries.

The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace is being redeveloped for spring 2002, to increase the size of the existing gallery.

More art on show

A new Queen's Gallery, costing about 3m, is also to be built at Holyrood in Edinburgh.

It will be created from two converted buildings, close to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the site of the new Scottish Parliament.

It will enable more material from the royal library at Windsor including world famous works of art by Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael to be exhibited in Scotland.

The da Vincis are at the Merseyside gallery until 27 April, then the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea, Wales from 27 April to 7 July.

They will move to the Graves Art Gallery in Sheffield, south Yorkshire, from 13 July to 21 September and then the Ulster Museum, Belfast, from 27 September to 8 December.

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