So all the tickets sold out very quickly in November, one week after the exhibition opened. I never thought it was going to be that popular. I found out because I went to a lecture with one of the curators of the National Gallery, Dr Scott Nethersole, and he said that all the tickets were sold out. Must be good, I thought.
He mentioned that they had worked for over 6 years to put the Leonardo exhibition together.
So, I had to go.
5am and the alarm clock sounds. 6.30am in the queue. 100 people already! By 8.30 am the queue is surrounding the building, I really can’t believe it. I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life. And I can’t believe that people are so into art to go to that amount of effort, it seems around 80% of the people queuing are 50 or older. The guy behind us is Japanese, and tells us that he came from Japan the day before just for the exhibition! That’s impressive.
I enter the building at 10.15 am and ask the security guy if he’s seen anything like this before. He tells me that he’s seen 3 exhibitions very popular in the National, free ones, but in 17 years, nothing at all like this. He says that there was a couple queuing from 23.30 on a Saturday night to get into the exhibition on Sunday morning.
After 4.5hrs we have our tickets, I don’t think I’ve been this excited since I saw Paul Mc Cartney live at the O2.
It’s packed, with queues to see each of the pictures, so I try to do it my way and sneak in when I see a spot.
What it is more fascinating is the amount of originals they’ve put together. Mainly the paintings he did for the Court of Milan, when Ludovico Sforza was his patron.
There are many sketches that belong to The Queen, but as well they’ve brought together originals from France, Poland, from private collections like this new discovery “Salvatore Mundi” which they recently discovered was painted by Leonardo.
There is a room with the two ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ paintings together, the Louvre one and the London one, and in the middle a lot of sketches that Leonardo drew in preparation for this amazing paintings.
After you finish in the low floor, there’s another room upstairs with all the sketches for the Last Supper, including an image of the original fresco and all the studies for each character, the expression on the faces, hands. It is really really fabulous. There’s a video as well with the 2 curators speaking about the paintings.
I really recommend you if you are into art, don’t miss the chance to see this exhibition, hard work yes, but totally worth it.
So to this government, who insist on cutting arts funding, please, I invite you come along to the National Gallery at 6am on a rainy morning to see how many people are INTO ART, how many people do care about paintings and culture.
It ends of February the 5th.