Tuesday, 15 November 2011

This is why I went.

She is more beautiful than the Mona Lisa. I have never seen her before and, quite probably, I will never see her again in my lifetime. Unless I go to Cracow.

No reproduction can do justice to the exquisite delicacy of the ermine's ear, the bones of its face, the quiver of a whisker and the musculature of its leg.

I couldn't walk away ... and when I did, I kept coming back. A woman turned to me and said, 'I cannot bear to leave.'

Now, what you really want to know ...

The queue (two hours, said the woman at the desk) stretched out the door of the National Gallery and up the side of the Sainsbury wing and they start queuing for day tickets at about 7am.

But once you get inside, it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected and, I must say, the National Gallery have done a pretty good job at managing the flow. The crowd ebbed and towards the end of the afternoon, I was able to commune with the beautiful Cecilia and her ermine for as long as I pleased. Of course, it wasn't quite like this.

14 comments:

Noelle said...

Cecilia and her ermine are stunning. Will you share the painter's name and possible era?
Enjoying another 'stroll'!
God bless,

Noelle said...

Mary,

I could not wait! 'La belle ferroniere' is breathtaking!

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/leonardo-da-vinci-painter-at-the-court-of-milan

Mea culpa! I was envious (still am) enough I wished I too could have seen it!
Thank you as always for sharing,

mary said...

Sorry, Noelle. Leonardo exhibition is big news in London this week but I should have made it a bit clearer for those half way across the world!
Those two portraits are hanging close together, almost eyeing each other up - Lady with an Ermine is the 16yo mistress of Leonardo's patron, and The Belle Ferronière is (possibly) his wife ... and they are both absolutely beautiful. But I've wanted to see Lady with an Ermine for a long time and never had the chance.

Sue said...

I've always thought her more beautiful than old Mona.

Apparently she is one of the inspirations for Philip Pullmann's dæmon idea in his Dark Materials trilogy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A6mon_(His_Dark_Materials)

Mystica said...

At least I get to see her through your blog! absolutely beautiful.

mary said...

Sue, isn't she lovely. And I thought Pantalaimon as soon as I saw her. I remember seeing other daemon inspirations in a magazine ages ago - cn't remember where and can only remember Holbein's squirrel now.

Mystica, wish you could have been there!

A Trifle Rushed said...

I'm ordering tickets tonight. I have a dreadful tendency to intend to go to exhibitions and then miss them. Thanks for the prompt.

mary said...

I do hope you get them, Jude; I have a feeling that the bookable tickets have already sold out, but I might be wrong.

Lucille said...

I think you are right about the tickets and I don't know if I have the stamina for a two hour queue.

gudrunstights said...

Such a lovely painting! I am not surprised that people are waiting in line to view it. Once again, I am jealous!

mary said...

Anbolyn and Lucille, I'm amazed they were able to bring so many works together - really is a show of a lifetime this one, so probably worth it as none of us will get the chance again.
Astonishing when you think that even Leonardo never saw his two Virgins of the Rock hanging together.

mary said...

Heavens, have just noticed tickets selling on-line for £200+.

Eggs on the Roof said...

I love the way you write about the painting, Mary - it's very touching

mary said...

There is something very moving about seeing it 'in the flesh', Charlie. There's a contemporary poem quoted alongside her, 'Everyone who sees her thus, though too late to see her living ...' It certainly makes you think about the passage of time.