MORE than 1,000 tickets have already been snapped for an exhibition of drawings created by ‘one of the greatest minds in history’ at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, featuring 12 drawings from the Italian master, is part of a national tour to mark the 500th anniversary of his death and Sunderland is one of 12 UK venues chosen by Royal Collection Trust to simultaneously host the exhibition. A total of 144 Leonardo drawings will be on show across the country.

The exhibition opens this Friday (February 1) and runs until Monday, May 6.

Keith Merrin, Chief Executive of Sunderland Culture who delivers the programme at the museum on behalf of Sunderland City Council, said: “We’re thrilled, but not too surprised, at the interest shown in Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing.

“It’s a privilege for Sunderland to host such a prestigious exhibition and people from across the region and beyond have been booking their tickets.  The 12 drawings selected for Sunderland reflect a range of Leonardo’s interests and include great examples of the drawing materials employed by him.”

Drawings on show at the Sunderland exhibition are: The drapery of a kneeling figure, c.1491-94; A portrait of a woman in profile, c.1485-90; Mortars firing into a fortress, c.1503-4; A horse and rider, and studies for Leda, c.1503-4; A bird’s-eye view of western Tuscany, c.1503-4; A sprig of guelder-rose, c.1506-12; Studies of optics and men in action, c.1508; Studies of optics, c.1508; The lungs, c.1508; The bladder, c.1508; The muscles and tendons of the lower leg and foot, c.1510-11; Studies of architecture and a bird’s wing, c.1512-13; A costume study of a prisoner, c.1517-18; A deluge, c.1517-18.

Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings at Royal Collection Trust, said: “We are delighted to work with Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, as one of Royal Collection Trust’s 12 partner venues in the Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing nationwide event. In 2019, in collaboration with our partners we will be giving the widest-ever audience across the UK the opportunity to see the work of this extraordinary artist.

“The exhibition at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens demonstrates the extraordinarily wide range of Leonardo’s work throughout his lifetime, and is a thrilling opportunity for audiences to engage directly with one of the greatest minds in history. His drawings were central to his work in every field, both his artistic projects and his scientific investigations: they allowed Leonardo to work out his ideas on paper, and can be viewed as his private laboratory.”

A range of artistic projects and programmes, organised by Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, will complement the exhibition.

These include a variety of activities, assemblies and workshops for schools and a project with University of Sunderland students working at FabLab and responding to the question ‘if Leonardo was alive now, what would he create?’

There is also a family programme which includes a Leonardo-themed week during February half-term (February 18 – 22); Leonardo trails around the Museum and a takeover by the Dominic Wilcox Little Inventors project during the Easter holidays. There will also be monthly exhibition sessions for families with children who have additional learning needs or learning disabilities.

An adult learning programme will include: a free talk by Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings at Royal Collection Trust on Wednesday, February 27 at University of Sunderland’s Murray Library Theatre (6.30pm – 8.30pm) and then a guided tour of the exhibition by Martin the following day (11am); a botanical illustration workshop at the Museum on Saturday, April 27 and life drawing classes exploring nude, drapery and theatrical costume on Sundays, March 3, 10, 17 and 24 (12.45 – 4.45pm.

Following the exhibitions at the 12 venues the drawings will be brought together to form part of an exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, the largest exhibition of Leonardo’s work in more than 65 years. A selection of 80 drawings will then travel to The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse in November, the largest group of Leonardo’s works ever shown in Scotland.

Tickets for Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, costing £2.50, can be pre-booked online by visiting www.sunderlandmuseum.org.uk or at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens’ reception during opening hours. Entry for under-16s is free, but they will need a ticket.

For information and updates on the supporting activities and events, log on to the museum’s website or check social media using the hashtags #SunderlandLeo and #Leonardo500.

Leonardo, who lived from 1452 to 1519, painted some of the most famous images in world art, with the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper among his most famous pieces. Charles II acquired 550 of the polymath’s drawings, which had been bound into a single album, and they have remained in the Royal Collection since the 17th century.

The programme at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens has been supported by National Lottery funding from the Great Place Scheme, a joint fund from Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund (thanks to the generosity of National Lottery players) to put arts, culture and heritage at the heart of communities.

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