A drawing of a dragon, moving in profile to the right. It has a hairy body, a tail, short horns, an open mouth and, apparently, a hairy, clawed arm coming out of the back of its neck.
In 1516, aged 64, Leonardo was invited to France to serve Francis I at his chain of palaces in the Loire valley. One of his responsibilities was apparently to design costumes for entertainments. This dragon was conceived in the manner of a pantomime horse, for a clawed arm in black chalk emerges from the side of the head, at the natural height of a man whose legs form the front legs of the beast and who supports the oversized head on his shoulders, in the manner of traditional Chinese festival dragons.
Bequeathed to Francesco Melzi; from whose heirs purchased by Pompeo Leoni, c.1582-90; Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel, by 1630; Probably acquired by Charles II; Royal Collection by 1690.