Having been advised by the Gallery official that the only sure way to gain admission was to arrive early, at least 6 am, I set my alarm for 4.30 am Sunday 22nd January, washed, dressed and set out on the twenty minute walk from my hotel to Trafalgar Square. A considerable queue had already begun to form with people at the very front in sleeping bags having been there since midnight (and I thought that I was dedicated). However, from my position in the growing line of ticket hunters, I was confident that my early rise would be rewarded with success.
I finally purchased my tickets at 11.20 am, six hours after arriving at the Gallery. Was it worth the wait?
Yes, it was.
Leonardo da Vinci, Painter at the Court of Milan. The Exhibition.
As I explained earlier this exhibition was unique, it is very unlikely that so many of Leonardo's surviving paintings and sketches, along with examples of works by his followers, will ever be assembled again. The logistics of persuading galleries and collections from around the world to loan their star attractions may prove to be impossible.
The National Gallery had organised the exhibition within seven rooms, mainly in the Sainsbury Wing and also the Sunley Room of the Gallery. The organisation was impressive, tickets are time-based ensuring that the exhibition is not overcrowded allowing for close up viewing of the exhibits in a full, but not overcrowded environment. (My own slot was for 6.00/6.30 pm entry time, once inside you could stay for as long as you like)
ROOM 1:- This room provided a strong start to the exhibition, it contained paintings by Leonardo such as The Musician, opposite. Also known as Portrait of a young man it was revolutionary because of the sitters pose engaging with the viewer and breaking with the traditional strict profile portraiture favoured at the Court of Milan. The pose of the sitter was much imitated by Leonardo's pupils such as Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio's painting Portrait of a young Man which was also displayed in Room 1. Also in this room were several excellent drawings by Leonardo and his followers so there was a lot of information to study and absorb.