An evening with Leonardo da Vinci

Last night I went to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square to see the Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan exhibit. I was accompanied by fellow Voyager-ite Natasha, and together we spent an hour ooh-ing and aah-ing over the genius of Senor da Vinci. Despite the ticketed and timed entry, it was absolutely jam-packed. Over five centuries have passed since his death but that man can still draw a full house!

This particular exhibition focuses on his skills as a painter – setting aside for a moment the rest of his talent as an inventor, architect, engineer, mathematician, etc. etc. etc.! One thing that really struck me as I was walking around were the incredible studies he did on the minutest details – from a pair of clasped hands, to the draping of a cloth over a kneeling man, to the exact tilt of a head – everything was meticulously researched, experminted with, and and practised.

All of the notes we saw by Leonardo were written in his distinctive mirror writing. Seeing it in person reminded me that for a period of about six months in high school, I wrote all my journals in backwards writing after finding out that was how da Vinci did it. (I also wrote in ALL CAPS for a while – even in my exams – after seeing a friend do it, so it wasn’t just geniuses I copied… although that friend is now doing a very in-depth PhD so genius might not be too far off!)

Natasha and I belied our cultural prowess by making frequent references to The Da Vinci Code and Everafter, before heading off for some delicious Mexico City-style street food at Lupita.

Yet the most surprisingly and delightful thing about the whole exhibition, for me, was discovering a little Oathbreaker’s Shadow connection: Leonardo da Vinci’s intricate knot patterns. Knots are probably the most significant motif in Oathbreaker and so it was a little thrill to see they inspired the Grand Master too.

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