Leonardo da Vinci died 500 years ago, big exhibitions are planned in Milan and Paris. Here in the UK we have Leonardo da Vinci on tour. Leonardo Da Vinci: A life in Drawing has twelve British cities playing host to twelve Leonardo da Vinci drawings from the Royal Collection. Then in May they all come together in the Queen’s Gallery in London and then on to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh …. a royal progress but of art rather than people.
THE QUEEN’S LEONARDO DA VINCI COLLECTION
The Queen, well to be precise the Royal Collection, has what is reckoned to be the finest collection of Leonardo’s drawings in the world. She has more than 550 sheets covered in his drawings. King Charles II bought them in around 1670 and they have been in the collection ever since. Because paper is easily damaged light, the drawings are not often displayed and certainly not in the quantity that is on offer in 2019.
SURELY LEONARDO DA VINCI WAS A PAINTER
Well yes he was but before he put brush to canvas he made many meticulous drawings. Horses, hands, heads anything and everything. He didn’t just draw in preparation to paint, he drew practically everything he lay his eyes on. He disected animals and drew them to better understand how they worked. He drew fantastic machines, designing a flying machine centuries before such a thing actually existed. The Queen has examples of all of these, I like to think of her leafing through them on wet Wednesday.
WHERE CAN I SEE THE LEONARDO DA VINCI DRAWINGS
Most regions of the UK will play host to a dozen of the Queen’s Leonardos, except East Anglia. You can find them here:
- Glasgow, Kelvingrove Museum
- Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery
- Birmingham, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
- Leeds, Leeds Art Gallery
- Southampton, Southampton City Art Gallery
- Cardiff, National Museum Cardiff
- Belfast, Ulster Museum
- Derby, Derby Museum and Art Gallery
- Sheffield, Millennium Gallery
- Bristol, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
- Sunderland, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens
- Manchester, Manchester Art Gallery
LEONARDO AT SOUTHAMPTON CITY ART GALLERY
I headed down to Southampton City Art Gallery to see Leonardo da Vinci: A life in Drawing. Confession time, I have never been to the Southampton City Art Gallery before, what a stunning place. The gallery itself is housed in light airy 1930’s building and permanent collection has real gems in it. Did you know that Edward Burne Jones’ Perseus series, all ten of them, lives here? They are displayed all together in a fine wood panelled room, worth a visit to Southampton at any time.
If you are a day trip or a weekend break distance from any of the ten cities then go while you can. Not only are Leonardo’s drawing exquisite, this is probably the only chance you will get to see so many of them. Many of the host galleries are old friends of mine either from student days or from visits when I travelled widely across the UK as the Outside Broadcast Producer for BBC Working Lunch and have fine collections that are well worth seeing in their own rights. I’m especially fond of Birmingham and Leeds.
LEONARDO DA VINCI: A LIFE IN DRAWING NEED TO KNOW
- Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing will be on tour until 6 May 2019
- Buckingham Palace Queen’s Gallery, London 24 May – 13 October
- Ticket prices vary at each location in London they will be £13.50 and in Edinburgh £7.50
- Palace of Holyroodhouse Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh 22 November 2019 – 15 March 2020
- Tickets at both Queen’s Galleries can be stamped and become a year long pass enabling you to visit as often as you want.
- Click on the blue words to book tickets.
Where will you catch Leonardo da Vinci on Tour? For more inspiration about what to see in London check out my London Exhibitions Spring 2019 post.