An exciting new exhibition has brought ten Leonardo Da Vinci drawings to Birmingham for the first time. Graham Young reports.
Leonardo Da Vinci himself might have appreciated the symmetry: when I am quietly ushered inside Gallery 16 there are just 16 hours to go before it will open to the public.
Otherwise known as The Print Room at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, it’s an unspectacular space when empty of visitors with lively minds.
No matter that the initially distant small exhibits also look to be so few and far between.
On loan from The Royal Collection, these are ten original drawings by the Renaissance master Leonardo Da Vinci.
He might have died 493 years ago, but walking into this empty room is like arriving for what might now be termed An Audience With...
Everywhere you look closely, you can feel the force of Da Vinci’s personality.
And it’s this combination of artistic talent and sheer breadth of creative vision which had visitors queuing up outside of the museum door last weekend.
The works have arrived as part of a year-long, five-city contributory celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. And, even though there only ten on display, they have been carefully chosen to reflect the extraordinary scope of Da Vinci’s interests, including paintings and sculpture, engineering, botany, mapmaking, hydraulics and anatomy.
My personal guide to the life and times of the original multimedia man is Martin Clayton.
Now the senior curator of prints and drawing from the Royal Collection, he explains details I can barely see in some of the drawings, so try to choose a quiet midweek time if you want to see them for yourself.
Martin was two years into a physics degree at the University of Cambridge when he switched to the history of art.
Graduating two years later, he spotted a vacancy at Windsor Castle and has been there ever since.
A 44-year-old father of three children aged six, four and two, his eyes sparkle every time you try to use his experience to burrow into the mind of Da Vinci. His is clearly a very special job.
The drawings are numbered one to ten and most are fixed to the walls.