Audio: The curator of Leonardo at the National Gallery

  • 9 December 2011

Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan curator Luke Syson describes the energy and poetry behind the sketches for a Saint Mary Magdalene by Leonardo which belongs to the Courtauld Gallery in London.

Studies for a Saint Mary Magdalene, c 1486 © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

Studies for a Saint Mary Magdalene, c 1486

Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan is the largest-ever exhibition of the artist's rare surviving paintings. Featuring more than 60 of his paintings and drawings as well as works by his collaborators, the exhibition concentrates on the Leonardo's early professional life in Milan.

The curator of this blockbuster exhibition, Luke Syson, describes the energy and poetry behind the Designs for a Saint Mary Magdalene (1486-8) by Leonardo which belongs to the Courtauld Gallery in London.

You can see Designs for a Saint Mary Magdalene in Room 2 of the exhibition which looks at Leonardo's portraits of women. The guide says of these sketches: 'These rapidly sketched designs for a painting show Mary Magdalene with her attribute of a pot of ointment, from which unusually she lifts the lid. The Magdalen was particularly devoted to Christ and was the first saint to whom he appeared after his Resurrection. Here, Leonardo shows the Magdalen alone but in the act of turning as if to Christ or the viewer.'

Read more about Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan.

Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan by Art Fund