National Gallery in London opens Da Vinci exhibition today

National Gallery, Da VinciLondon’s National Gallery is hosting an exhibition of the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci. The show, titled Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, focuses on the paintings of the famous genius rather than his many other projects. It brings together nine of the only 15 or 16 paintings known to be his. The gallery boasts that it’s the most complete collection of his paintings ever shown.

The Mona Lisa is not among them. Personally I consider it Da Vinci’s least compelling work. Perhaps that’s just because I’ve seen it too much, or maybe I was influenced by my art history teacher who, while giving us a slideshow on Renaissance art, got to the Mona Lisa and wearily said, “The Mona Lisa. Is she smiling or isn’t she? Who cares?” and then went on to the next slide. Maybe if she went into the theory that it shows Da Vinci in drag I would have been more interested.

One of the paintings on display is Christ as Salvator Mundi, which is the subject of a heated debate within art circles as to whether it’s by Da Vinci or one of his students. Hanging beside known works of Da Vinci, you’ll have the chance to judge for yourself.

Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan runs until 5 February 2012.

Photo of the Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani courtesy Web Gallery of Art.

Picture London without the people

If you’ve ever had a chance to visit London, you know what a hive of activity the city can be. Huge red double decker buses rumble past your field of view, pedestrians stroll through Trafalgar Square and the pontificators mass at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park.

Perhaps it’s a surprise then to see photos of these places, completely devoid of any human being. That’s exactly what Flickr user IanVisits has done in his recent photo project titled “Abandoned London.” Ian had the opportunity recently to capture images of London at its most desolate. On Christmas morning, as many Londoners remained curled up in bed or at home opening their holiday presents, Ian was riding his bike through the empty streets, capturing these eerie street scenes, frozen in time.

The normally bustling stairs in front of the National Gallery sit vacant, strangely forlorn. The pulsing neon of Picadilly Circus is dark, the advertisements yelling their goods to nothing but empty air. Hungerford Bridge anxiously awaits the stirrings of foot traffic.

Despite the absence of any Londoners, each image in Ian’s Abandoned London set seems to create its own sense of personality. It raises an interesting question – is a city defined by its people? Or is it an entity of its own, breathing, sleeping and existing as if it was alive? In any case, if you’re looking for a unique view of London you’ve probably never seen, make sure to check out his gallery.

Many thanks to Ian Mansfield for letting us use his photos!

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