The Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the castle


Dear Sons,

On Sunday we decide to go to Nottingham castle to visit the exhibition of da Vinci drawings that have been loaned from the Royal Collection. As usual on a Sunday we had a number of jobs to do before we could go and it was late morning before we got the bus. Parking in town has become so expensive and difficult we preferred the bus.

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These were studies for a giant statue of a horse in bronze. However when the French captured the city the soldiers used his initial model for target practice and the statue was never built.

It was lunchtime when we reached the castle. At the moment if you pay for entry you get a years membership so it is worth paying. Both of us have  a years membership. It was a lovely late summer day just right, sunny but not too hot and with a light breeze to keep the temperature down.  We enjoyed the views over the city and pointed out landmarks for each other. The exhibition was upstairs next to the art gallery. Dad had brought his camera and took some photos so I could send them to you  (without flash of course).

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 These drawings are astronomical

Although there were only ten drawings in total, there was a video showing how the paper was prepared and the drawings executed. I found this fascinating. Then boards with details of Leonardo’s life and works. I was photographed as the Mona Lisa for a giggle I should crop it and use it as my avatar perhaps?

Finally we got to view the drawings and they were magnificent. Much smaller than you would think but so beautiful and enchanting in their perfection and playfulness. You could see where he had tried out ideas and scribbled notes and lines of poetry.

Here are some studies of felines of various species. I particularly like the miniature dragon

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It was all so much more intimate than seeing  finished art works. It felt as if we were seeing inside his thoughts, not quite as intimate as reading a diary, but an insight into the mind of a genius. Having seen the materials he had to work with, made the delicacy of the writing and the fine lines of the drawing all the more impressive. I had to keep reminding myself of how ephemeral these images are and how many hundreds of years ago they had been produced.

This is a study for the head of Saint Anne the mother of The Virgin Mary the final piece shows St Anne with Mary on her lap and the infant Jesus

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Here is a diagram of the circulatory system

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Here the diagram shows an enlarged pancreas and a small liver. It is inconceivable that such a meticulous draughtsman would have made an error, which could indicate that the subject whose dissection was the source for these drawings had diseased organs.

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We finished the visit by wandering through the artworks showing each other our favourites. I like the Laura Knights’ whereas Dad prefers the more romantic realistic landscapes. We debated the species of dragonfly in one of the still life paintings I argued for black tailed skimmer he favoured broad bodied chaser. We had lunch in the cafe and pottered back mid afternoon to do some work on the garden.

This drawing of blackberries is in chalk such an ephemeral material and it has survived all these hundreds of years.

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We bought the book of the exhibition and when we have read it we will send it to you. Well that is all my news for this weekend.

This figure is rather short and stocky but again incredibly well preserved considering the drawing was done when the wars of the roses were taking part in England.

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This is a storm scene

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