Leonardo da Vinci at the National Gallery


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Fifteen members of the Harrogate Medical Wine Society and fifteen guests travelled to London from Harrogate on Friday 9 December 2011 for the Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition at the National Gallery.

TRAVEL: A VIP coach with two drivers was used for the 5 hr. journey each way, starting at 6.30 am in Harrogate. Lanson, Canard-Duchene, Manzanilla and Hunter’s Riesling 2010 were drunk after breakfast on the coach and a DVD of the last HMWS Champagne tour was watched. Pizza Express on the Strand provided sustenance for the journey back, to be washed down with Hunters’ Pinot Noir 2009 and Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois, Domaine de Barroubio 2009 and Grappa for the coffee and mince pies that followed.

LONDON: It was a glorious day with sunshine and blue skies. Trafalgar Square was buzzing. The coach stopped right at the entrance to the National Portrait Gallery. Most had lunch at The National Café, high ceilinged, spacious and classy. Waiters were attentive and courteous. Carpaccio (£5.50), Mixed leaves (£3.75), Fish of the Day (£15.50), Caesar Chicken (£11.50), Osso Buco (£14), Risotto (£13.50) and Affogato (£5) from the special Leonardo da Vinci menu were well received. Antinori’s Chianti Classico 2007 (£34), though a bit young, was delightful.

THE EXHIBITION: The atmosphere was relaxed and security non-obtrusive. There were no barriers in front of the paintings and access was easy. The subdued lighting made it hard to see some of the faded sketches from a distance. “The Lady with an Ermine” depicting Ludovico Sforza’s mistress, “The Belle Ferronniere” thought to be the portrait of Sforza’s wife are works of great beauty and appear to capture both reality and motion. Of the two “Virgin of the Rocks” the earlier version was more appealing with its softness of texture and exquisite beauty and purity of the Virgin. “Christ as Salvator Mundi” is stunning and at the same time, haunting and ‘disturbing.’ The softness and tones of the Masters work were so much more appealing and precise at the same time, compared to the ‘starkness’ of the paintings of his pupils, except for “The Madonna Lia” by Francesco Galli and Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio’s “The Madonna of the Rose”. Housing Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli’s full-scale copy of “The Last Supper” (about 1520) away from the main exhibition distracted a little but was a stunning finale to a fantastic exhibition.

CONCLUSION: Truly a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.


“John and I would like to say a huge thank you for your organisation of the splendid day we had with you yesterday, and also to you Ann for the extra goodies and coffees to keep us all happy on our long, but very comfortable journey.” – Joan Robertson, Harrogate

“Thank you for, yet again, organising the trip to the Leonardo exhibition. It was a great success with everything going to plan — the pizza plan was a very good idea! I enjoyed the exhibition and was able to see the Salvator Mundi which has been haunting me since I first saw it on the TV program. It was a very enjoyable day despite having to get up at the crack of dawn!” – Gwynneth Owen, Leeds

“A very big thank you for organising the trip to London which was a memorable occasion, greatly enjoyed and appreciated.” – Prof. Charles Joslin, Harrogate


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