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Artist & Broadcaster
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Television work

Leonardo, a three-part series, BBC1, 2003

My main contribution to this series was demonstrating the painting and drawing techniques of Leonardo. I showed Alan Yentob the advantages of oil paint in relation to the frustrating slowness of egg tempera paint. In my discussion I described the advantages of oil paint over egg tempera paint, including a greater depth and subtlety of colour, and generally lower blood pressure.

I also talked about the Mona Lisa, and showed how this famous painting was painted, as well as supplying an unfinished Mona Lisa for ‘Leonardo’ (Mark Rylance) to ‘paint’ during the drama sequences of the series.

The Mona Lisa is so famous it’s almost invisible, but beneath all its kitsch cultural accretions it still has a powerfully mysterious presence. I have many theories about it, and it is a pity that the powers-that-be in the BBC edited out what I feel would have been an astonishing revelation to most viewers, namely that it was once much bigger and the original as we now know it is in fact a cut-down masterpiece. I also have strong reasons for believing that it is unfinished. Maybe all this could be the subject for a programme of its own one day…?

       
Leo1
Leo2
Mona Lisa 1
Mona Lisa 2

My conjectural drawn recreation of the original as it once was, and a ‘lost’ preparatory study done in authentic sanguine chalk. The creation of both of these drawings ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor during the making of this series.

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