Leonardo da Vinci gets celebrity billing with UK show

Tue Nov 8, 2011 12:05pm EST
 
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Move over George Clooney. Lady Gaga? So yesterday. The new celebrity in town is Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, subject of a major exhibition at London's National Gallery that has generated the hype of a Hollywood blockbuster.

Critics have fallen over themselves to find superlatives to describe "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan," which gathers nine of only 15 or 16 paintings of the master's paintings known to exist.

Missing are arguably the most famous of all -- the "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre in Paris and "The Last Supper" mural in Milan which cannot be moved anyway.

But the National Gallery is still confident that the collection, including loans from around the world, represents "the most complete display of Leonardo's rare surviving paintings ever held."

Curator Luke Syson, who worked for five years on the exhibition, was close to tears describing it to the first of two press previews on Tuesday to cope with huge media demand.

"People have talked about this as an unprecedented opportunity," he said.

"It is an unprecedented opportunity. It probably won't happen like this again and so it's very moving, the thought that we actually might be able to understand Leonardo better collectively."

He said the show, which runs from November 9-February 5, 2012 and is sponsored by Credit Suisse, was designed to focus on Leonardo the painter, as opposed to scientist, inventor, engineer, mathematician or all-round polymath.   Continued...

 
<p>An art critic takes a closer look at a painting by Leonardo da Vinci entitled "Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani", (The Lady with an Ermine) on show as part of the "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan" exhibition at the National Gallery in London, November 7, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez</p>