Wednesday, 2 May 2012

DaVinci de-coded

DaVinci on facebook
The fact that it is a Jubilee year means that there are more treats on offer than bunting, street parties and strangely dyed cakes. To celebrate in an entirely different way, a tiny, yet priceless proportion of the Royal collection is making a tour of the UK.
Ten Leonardo Da Vinci drawings are currently on display, for free, At Bristol Museum and Art Gallery until the 10th of June.
Who could resist? I've made the pilgrimage to the Louvre in Paris and seen the Mona Lisa, surprised by her demure proportions, despite all good art books giving precise measurements.
These drawings too are small, which makes their detail all the more breathtaking, you are also aware that this long lived renaissance man had, and continued to have, through is unusually long life, excellent eyesight... which, as I groped in the handbag for the now essential reading glasses was an aspect of his life I envy even now, and in the darkened viewing room an easy explanation for his amazing skill and enduring popularity.
But seriously...
I have always loved the simplicity of his materials, paper dyed with coloured chalk, delicate inked lines.
To choose a favourite is deeply childish, but I was drawn back to the ochre lines of the drawing of acorns on a leaf laden branch several times during my visit. With a page stained with red ochre and an ink of the same hue, every detail needed to describe a branch of oak leaves and acorns is there, no more, no less. So real you could lift them from the parchment, just as he saw them 500 years ago.
There is a lovely book to accompany the drawings, with all sorts of information, the history of both the art and the artist always good to revisit, but in many ways superfluous when you are in the presence of the work itself. If you are near, go see.