One man brought a magnifying glass, and I wish I'd thought of that. Da Vinci's work is filled with the finest details so tiny that we were glad there was no rope to keep us back. Whether you're an art enthusiast or just curious about the fuss, the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens exhibition is a must-see. It's not every day you get up close and personal with one of the most famous artists in the world. For just £2.50, you've got until 6th May to see it.
What did Leonardo da Vinci mean to me? The Mona Lisa, the Vitruvian Man, and The Last Supper. Oh, and making a conscious effort not to slip and say DiCaprio. Little did I know about the man behind the brush until yesterday, when I attended the most enthusiastic lecture by Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings for Royal Collection Trust at Windsor Castle. His passion was infectious as he discussed everything from da Vinci's masterpieces to tidbits painting him in a human light.
As it turns out, da Vinci was left-handed. His notes read right-to-left with the letters back to front, whereas his commissioned works were written in the standard left-to-right, revealing his remarkable mind. Clayton explained that da Vinci was an image-orientated perfectionist, on and off the canvas. Not only did his sketches show accurate proportions, individual hair strands, and clothing creases, but he was also a fashionable man, meticulous about his appearance.
He was a multidisciplinary artist, an illustrator, a painter, a muralist, a mapmaker, a costume designer, and the list goes on, even dipping into science. Unfortunately, his thirst for knowledge was regularly interrupted by the political unrest of the Italian Renaissance, forcing him to abandon many projects. Yet Clayton spoke about the lulls in da Vinci's life, too.
While Michelangelo was busy painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Leonardo was drawing cats. - Martin Clayton
It was reassuring to hear he was no stranger to competition, and sometimes he just couldn't measure up to his contemporaries despite all that world-class talent. Nevertheless, da Vinci signed and dated his work from the beginning, which wasn't standard practice at that time for the masters of art, let alone for a 23-year-old with no reputation. But as a little lesson in self-belief, da Vinci always took great pride in his creativity.
So, as a 23-year-old illustrator who also focuses on the details, I left the lecture feeling very informed and hopeful that maybe one day I could draw cats while a younger, more popular girl paints a new wonder of the world. Kidding.