Leonardo at the National Gallery

Bother. All pre-bookable tickets for the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery are sold out from now to the end of the show in February. It would have been good to go a second time. But at least we got to see the exhibition once.

Even though they are admitting fewer people per hour than in previous blockbuster exhibitions (didn’t I read that was so?), it was still somewhat uncomfortably crowded. Which made it quite difficult to get up-close and personal with the fifty or so drawings in the show (and somehow the bustle doesn’t put you in quite the right mood for them either). The light has to be low for the drawings too. So, to be honest, I got more out of sitting quietly at home looking at them as reproduced in the stunningly well-produced exhibition catalogue, which we bought in advance of our visit, even if it was good to see the originals.

So what really made it worth jostling through the crowds were the paintings. In particular, there’s the (first time ever) chance to see the two versions of the The Virgin of the Rocks in the same room — and the earlier version is surely here much better displayed and lit than I remember it in the Louvre. Stunning. And then there’s the portrait of the young Cecilia Gallerani, The Lady with an Ermine. Somehow — although the image is reproduced on the posters which are now all over London and has suddenly become very familiar — seeing the painting itself was very affecting, and just by itself made the trip worthwhile.

Those of you out there who already have tickets booked (or are up for queuing for the restricted number of tickets available on the day) still have a wonderful treat in store. And for others, you really could do a lot worse than buying yourself the bargain catalogue for Christmas as a consolation.

But ok, that’s quite enough culture for now. Back to grumpy logic-chopping in my next posts …

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