Last week I endured almost 3 hours of queuing to get a ticket for the Leonardo Da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan exhibition at the National Gallery in London. For many a “once in a lifetime exhibition” and “the must see show of the season”. Advanced tickets are sold out, so your only chance to see it is by queuing for hours from 9.00am, if you can, get there even earlier. We all know how fantastic and wonderful and important and extraordinary Leonardo Da Vinci is, so what’s the fuzz about this particular show? Well, keep reading. I’m about to tell you why in a simple and quick way.
Reason no. 1
Leonardo was an incredibly prolific artist, however we had the bad habit of not finishing many of his works. This exhibition brings together, for the first time, all his finished work during his years in the court of Milan under the patronage of Ludovico Sforza. The only exception is the Last Supper, which, as you know, is a mural.
Reason no 2.
Because you will never have the opportunity to see again the two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks facing each other in the same room. For me, the absolute highlight of the show, breathtaking. Not even Leonardo got to see them together, so that makes it quite special. The 1483 version belongs to the Louvre Museum and the 1491 to the National Gallery, and they are together for the first time ever (and maybe the last time).
Reason no. 3
If you think the Monalisa or Giocconda is the best painting he’d ever made, I’m afraid you have to see with your own eyes the portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, also known as The Lady with and Ermine (1489). It is simply pure beauty.
Just to finish, I was surprised to see that most of Leonardo’s fabulous sketches are property of Her Majesty The Queen, who happens to have the largest Da Vinci drawings collection. She keeps them at Windsor Castle and are very rarely displayed to the public. You may think they are round the block and will see them again here and there, but no, I’m afraid she likes to keep them for her eyes only.
So there, endure the queue with patience, a coffee and a good book (essential). Trust me, it’s worth it!