See inside Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing exhibition ahead of its opening in Sunderland

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One of the most prestigious exhibitions ever to be held in Sunderland is ready to open to the public.

The Echo was given a sneak peek of Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life in Drawing ahead of its opening at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens tomorrow.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum. From left exhibition collection Jo Cunningham, Sunderland Culture Keith Merrin and senior exhibition RCT Hannah Belcher

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum. From left exhibition collection Jo Cunningham, Sunderland Culture Keith Merrin and senior exhibition RCT Hannah Belcher

It features 12 sketches from the Italian Master which depict his incredibly broad range of interests, from botany to cartography and science to the human form.

In a coup for the city, Sunderland is one of just 12 UK venues chosen by the Royal Collection Trust to simultaneously host the exhibition.

Due to their age, the drawings, which include The drapery of a kneeling figure c.1491-94 and A bird’s-eye view of western Tuscany c.1503-4, are rarely displayed and this is seen as a unique opportunity for Wearside audiences to see original da Vinci works in their home city.

Rebecca Ball, creative director at Sunderland Culture, which is delivering the programme at the museum on behalf of Sunderland City Council, said: “We’ve already sold 1,000 tickets for the exhibition, and the first hour of the exhibition sold out really quickly. We’re delighted at the response ahead of it opening, but we knew it would be popular, Leonardo da Vinci is so well-known and people are intrigued by him.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

“Through these drawings you can see how he had an interest in everything, he really wanted to understand things, and his way of understanding nature and science was through art. It make you really warm to him as a person.”

She added: “The Museum and Winter Gardens has established these great partnerships with national institutions such as The British Library, National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Collection Trust and that is brilliant for the city as it gives us access to works like this.”

Jo Cunningham, museums manager, said : “With these 12 drawings we can see da Vinci’s huge range of interests, from cartography and science to portraits. These were private papers so weren’t meant to be seen, but they give us a real insight into the brilliance of his mind. Da Vinci is a household name and his work has been reproduced many times, but there’s no substitute for the real thing.”

Speaking about why Sunderland was chosen to host the exhibition, which marks the 500th anniversary of his death, Hannah Belcher, senior curator at the Royal Collection Trust, said: “We looked at all the major metropolises of the UK when choosing the locations as the aim is for 34million people, so just over half the population of the UK, to be within an hour’s drive of one of the exhibitions. Although we’ve worked with other venues in the North East, this is our first time working with Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and it’s great to build up that relationship.”

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Inspired by the exhibition, there will also be a range of associated workshops, courses, guided tours and family activities taking place throughout the duration of the exhibition, which ends on May 6.

•Tickets for Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life in Drawing are £2.50 and can be pre-booked at https://sunderlandculture.org.uk/events/leonardo-da-vinci/

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition preview at Sunderland Museum.