Thursday, 19 May 2011

There's so many wonderful loan exhibitions in London that I'm inclined to neglect those art treasures that we can see all year round. Absolutely free.
So when I had an hour to spare at lunchtime today, I decided that it was far too long since I'd paid a visit to the Leonardo Cartoon.
No better time than the present, because when the Leonardo blockbuster opens later this year, the hordes will descend.
Oh dear, I arrived in the quiet, darkened corner where you'll find the Virgin and Child and St Anne and John the Baptist, just as a tour party filed through ... I hung back and watched them. Shuffle, pause, blink, two-three seconds average attention span, that's it, we've done Leonardo.
And then I was blissfully alone ... just me and Leonardo ... and I sat and gazed until it was time to get back to work.
When I was about 11 or 12 - before helicopter-parenting was invented - I used to gad all over London on my own. (Nothing's changed then!)
And I used to spend hours in the National Gallery. I loved the soft lines of this work, and the gentle faces. I haven't been back to see it since my own mother died, so maybe that's why I was so struck today by the tenderness of the pose - the mother perching on her own mother's knee. (Mustn't get over-sentimental. I'd have flattened my mum if we'd tried this at home!)
I did think how lucky I was to have spent so many lunchtimes here over the years.
It has made me a very fierce defender of free museums.
And the rights of 12-year-olds to grow up without too much adult interference.


Darlene said...

You are very lucky indeed! It must be wonderful to be able to linger over a painting knowing you can always go back the next weekend. During my last visit I just whipped in to say 'hello' to Jane Austen at the Portrait Gallery and was off again!

mary said...

Darlene, you should see me whipping in and out when I'm on holiday somewhere!