It is not every day that one has the opportunity to pop into the residence of Elizabeth II and feast one’s eyes on a collection of her awe-inspiring art. Yet, that is just what I was privileged enough to do last week as a visitor (alas not a guest) at The Queens Gallery, Buckingham Palace.
The exhibition in question denotes the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci; artist, architect, engineer, botanist, forensic scientist and more.
Today the title “genius” is bestowed with alacrity on pop performers, footballers and film stars with questionable discretion. However, there is no one more worthy of the mantle than Leonardo. The exhibition is the largest for 65 years and is now in its last few days so please try to go along; you will not be disappointed.
This is not an exhibition that will blow you away with its grandeur, there are no gargantuan, overwhelming canvases, no paintings with presence enough to dominate an entire room. The gallery experience is passive, respectful and intimate which invites contemplation.
This is an experience to be sipped and savoured not gulped down.
There are over 200 drawings on display, some of which will be familiar to those with even a tenuous acquaintance with his work, others, including many anatomical works, are more obscure, deeply intriguing and deserve particular attention and pause for thought. For once I would recommend that you make use of the audio guide which gives additional insight into the amazing precision of his drawings, particularly with relation to inner workings of the human form.
I was particularly fascinated by the techniques that Leonardo employed, particularly his mastery of the “silverpoint” technique that employs a silver rod that when dragged across the drawing surface with a pigment, creates a line quality which is perfectly suited to Leonardo’s keen eye and meticulous attention to detail.