Leonardo's record-breaking tour

Friday, 31 August 2012

Ulster Museum welcomed over 50,000 visitors to Royal Collection Trust's loan exhibition Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci on its tour to five museums and galleries across the UK.  Anne Stewart, Curator of Fine Art at Ulster Museum, said, 'The success of the exhibition in Belfast exceeded all our expectations and was by far the most successful we have ever mounted.' The exhibition has already attracted record visitor numbers in Birmingham and Bristol.

On 24 August, in a public event, Ulster Museum recreated the intricate hairstyle in Leonardo's exquisite drawing A study of the head of Leda.

The exhibition was selected to show the extraordinary scope of Leonardo's interests – painting and sculpture, engineering, botany, mapmaking, hydraulics and anatomy – and his use of different media – pen and ink, red and black chalks and metalpoint.  Highlights include designs for chariots fitted with flailing clubs,  a double-sided sheet of anatomical sketches, and a rough study of an old man in profile, one of the last drawings made by the artist.  

Beyond a handful of paintings, most of Leonardo’s great projects were never completed.  Martin Clayton, Royal Collection Trust's Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings said, ‘A great deal of Leonardo’s work is known to us only through his drawings, and I’ve selected ten of the finest of these to allow the visitor to engage directly with one of the greatest minds in history. Drawings are so much more immediate than paintings: you can see every movement of the artist’s mind, and there’s something very exciting about coming face to face with a sheet of paper that was held in the hands of Leonardo da Vinci 500 years ago.’

Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci opens at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum on Friday, 31 August.  Lord Provost Bob Duncan, chair of Leisure & Culture Dundee, said, ‘This is a unique opportunity for people from Dundee and beyond to experience the genius of Leonardo at first hand through these drawings.  It is a great honour for McManus to be chosen to host the exhibition and reflects the high regard in which its refurbishment is held.’

Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration from the Royal Collection is at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum from Friday, 31 August until Sunday, 4 November 2012.