Da Vinci – The Genius; exhibition review

‘Da Vinci – the Genius’ new exhibition in the V&A Waterfront, reveals many extraordinary things about the man and his brilliant mind. Did you know that he wrote in mirror image from right to left? Perhaps it was because he was left handed, perhaps to keep his notes from a 15thcentury Roman Catholic Church in search of heretics.

The exhibition is in the Chavonnes Battery Museum; interesting in itself for the old Dutch fort excavations and sandy shoreline from the time of Jan van Riebeek. But from now until March 2014 Da Vinci takes centre stage here, with interactive, life-size replicas of many of his inventions. He was so far ahead of his time when he invented underwater breathing equipment, flying machines, a sort of submarine, image projectors and you can even see his drawings for aeronautical bullets. There was barely anything that Da Vinci didn’t dabble in and children are encouraged to visit and dabble with the exhibits for themselves.

What fascinated me most were the revelations about Mona Lisa. This enigmatic lady might just have lost some of her mystery, thanks to Frenchman Pascal Cotte, who designed a camera that takes images at 250 million pixels across the whole light spectrum. His photographs of Mona Lisa (apparently we should be calling Monna), reveal what the original would have looked like and all the past restorations. Such are the extraordinary high resolution zoom qualities that it shows Leonardo did paint eyebrows and eyelashes. He was a total perfectionist so why wouldn’t he, but such fine detail, painted with a single brush hair, disappeared with time and heavy handed restoration.

And thus the mystery of why Da Vinci painted Monna Lisa without eyebrows and lashes is unlocked. There are many more secrets of Mona Lisa unveiled, but you’ll have to visit for yourself and to see how she would have looked in 1505.

What’s your favourite Leonardo da Vinci painting?

A review by Cape Grace Blogger Carrie Hampton



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