A Moment With Leonardo, And The Luvvies’ World Where Being Horrid Is Never Necessary

Do you know who I have to thank for the most transcendent artistic experience of my life? Credit Suisse. Yes!  The bankers.

That was the mob which sponsored the 2012 exhibition at the National Gallery in London - Leonardo: Painter at the Court of Milan. This pulled off the extraordinary feat of bringing together in one place just about every major painting by Leonardo Da Vinci which can be moved.

I arrived early for the press day and, for a few brief minutes which I will remember all my life, was alone, with just the wonderful curator, in a room with nearly every one of Leonardo’s masterpieces. “Overwhelming” doesn’t cut it.

I had a similar experience with Degas in 2011 thanks to Bank of New York Mellon’s generous sponsorship of the ‘Degas and the Ballet’ exhibition.

I thought of these milestones, and their corporate sponsors when I read about Emma Thompson, Mark Rylance et al. yelping about BP’s £600,000 a year deal with the British Museum.

There really should be an economics department at RADA but I won’t hold my breath

I doubt they are any happier about the bankers’ art subsidies. After all Credit Suisse was heavily fined for colluding in tax evasion and BNY Mellon has been fined for breaking custody rules. Oh, and for giving internships to the children of a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund with which it had a business relationship.

The luvvies are lucky to be able to view the world in their black and white terms, and live in a charmed place where being horrid is never necessary. Perhaps they don’t need BP’s products themselves. Perhaps they think we all walk to the theatre or the cinema.  Perhaps they don’t fly to the premiers, the auditions and the sets.

Maybe they should organise a demonstration against geology for its culpable failure to put the world's recoverable oil reserves under liberal secular democracies.  

Doubtless they think the State should pay. These people always think the State should pay. There really should be an economics department at RADA but I won’t hold my breath. Corporations do bad things. People do bad things. They and we do good things too.

In any case my few minutes alone with Leonardo courtesy of the gnomes of Zurich will live a lot longer in my memory than Nanny McPhee.

More about the author

About the author

Born and raised in Swansea West, one of the safest Labour seats in the country, David is perhaps unsurprisingly a High-Tory, Euroskeptic Royalist Libertarian with an unhealthy adoration for Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. As a result he is seldom pleased by anything that ever happens, and always on the verge of quitting the whole jamboree. A former Special Writer at the Wall Street Journal, he knew the crash was coming when he saw a piece about Louis XVI reproduction furniture "for your Winnebago."

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