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Beauty in the Hand of Leonardo

“Leonardo and the Ideal of Beauty,” which opens Wednesday at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has a blockbuster title and an unusually high concentration of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. But it promises to be a small, thoughtful show. Its 11 Leonardos include a codex page concerned with the flight of birds that harbors a newly discovered self-portrait in red chalk and the acclaimed study for the angel in “The Virgin of the Rocks” that is almost a mini-lexicon of drawing techniques, refined to loose.

Also included will be 19 other drawings, most attributed to the master in concert with members of his workshop or to other Leonardeschi who adopted his style. And for further comparison there will be seven sheets by Michelangelo, that other peak of Renaissance achievement, who lived to help ring in the Baroque. All loans are from Italian institutions. Careful label-reading will reveal gradations and varieties of attribution. Careful looking could aid a much-needed understanding and revival of connoisseurship. (Through June 14, mfa.org.)

 

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A version of this article appears in print on April 12, 2015, on page AR4 of the New York edition with the headline: Beauty in the Hand of Leonardo.

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