Inside The Mind Of A Genius

da-Vinci-Exhibition - The Royal Collection © 2012, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth IIRetail therapy has never been my idea of fun on a Bank Holiday Monday, so skirting the queues for IKEA we made our way through the very wet and windy streets to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

As part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, an exhibition of ten of the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, from the Queen’s collection is being shown, so we joined the back of the small queue and looked forward to seeing the work of a genius.

As we reached the front of the queue we were instructed to leave all food and drink with the attendant, told to turn off our mobiles, and informed that it was forbidden to take photos. These drawings date back to the mid 15th century, and although they are in immaculate condition, are very sensitive to light and humidity. Entering the exhibition hall, it took a few seconds for our eyes to become accustomed to the dim lighting, and to see the throng of people amassed to take in this amazing collection.

The drawings covered a range of topics. There were costume designs, diagrams for war machines, maps, simple sketches of items of nature, portraits and anatomical diagrams. Although the topics were very diverse, the style of drawing was very recognisable as that of the genius. Each line was carefully positioned, the density and touch exact and precise.

The museum provided every visitor with one of those flat plastic lenses, so each line, each rubbed mark, each nuance could be studied in detail. The most difficult part was viewing the sketches without getting in other visitors way, the room really was rather full and some people were more aware of their opaque nature than others, but it was all good natured and polite.

Being able to get so close to such amazing works was a real privilege. Seeing the detail of each work gave you the feeling that you were almost in the presence of the great man himself and gave a real insight into the way he thought and how he transferred those thoughts onto the handmade paper of his time. A truly incredible opportunity to get within inches of priceless antiquities. If you get the chance to visit you should grasp it with both hands.

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