Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Leonardo at the National Gallery

 The National Gallery has pulled a blinder. It has laid out an exhibition of such beauty that it will be hard to beat for a long time. Nicholas Penny, the Director of the Gallery and Luke Syson the creator of the exhibition should be praised and thanked for their work and skills.
 There are only 15 paintings by Leonardo da Vinci in the world, and here are 8 of them. There are only 50 sketches, and here are 33 of them. OK the Mona Lisa has stayed in France but this is not such a loss – I have always thought that the name is more beautiful than the face and that Leonardo has painted many better pictures. One of them is the portrait of Cecilia Gallerani who is all over the catalogue and the posters. She was Ludovico Sforza’s mistress from the age of 15 and as she turns to smile you can see how she would catch any man’s heart in her hands. She was very beautiful and just 3 metres away is her very cross rival - Ludovico’s wife. There are many theories about why Leonardo painted her with an ermine including a play on her name and as a symbol of her purity This matters very little – take a closer look at her veil and her necklace and you could be looking at a model in a magazine today. It is a stunning display of Leonardo at his most human and most personal. He recognised that beauty is timeless and that it should be celebrated in art as well as in reality. This is a goddess painted by a god.
Towards the end of the show is a newly-discovered Leonardo called Salvator Mundi that emerged in America relatively recently. It is a mystery how it got there but there is no doubt that this is the genuine article owned by an unnamed syndicate of investors – a spectacular return on a relatively small investment. Quite a find! Almost as spectacular as Nicholas Penny’s discovery of a Raphael behind the door in the passageway of a Northern castle – it raised $40 million for the lucky Dukes.
I am afraid to say that if you do not have a ticket then you can only get in by queuing 3 hours from 6 am. Is it worth it? Yes. But if you are too cold for the queue then go for our Covent Garden walk.

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Hello and welcome to StrollOn, where we produce audio guides and audio tours of London, Paris and an ever-expanding list of major european cities. We have also developed our free city overviews and "Hot spots" (individual audio commentaries for individual sights and attractions). Whichever product interests you we simply ask that you select the relevant audio guide or audio tour on our website and download the mp3 files onto your iPod or other mp3 player, thereby turning your iPod into your "GuidePod".

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