Leonardo Da Vinci was a man ahead of his time; only he could bring his brushstrokes & muted pencil shading to life. The exhibition, which opened in November at the National Gallery allows the public to have an immersive Da Vinci experience, unveiling hidden sketch & fingerprints. Although Da Vinci’s talent as a painter and his approach to light & shadow are explored, the main focus is the painting “The Virgin of The Rocks”. The entire Ground Floor of the Gallery becomes a painting studio, an imaginary chapel and a room-sized experiment in this immersive exhibition that leads you through Da Vinci’s mind. The exhibition is divided into four distinct spaces, each equally entertaining & educational, carrying secrets of his masterpiece, inviting you to look at the painting in a different way.

There are two versions of “Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks” (the version in the Louvre was painted first). These two paintings are a good place to start to define the qualities of the new style of the High Renaissance. Leonardo’s concern of creating an illusion of space, Mary being seated on the ground (Madonna of Humility), the fabulous & mystical landscape with rivers that seem to lead nowhere and bizarre rock formations that recall the Dolomite mountains of north-eastern Italy all make the piece divine.

The painting has been undergoing significant scientific investigation, uncovering the original, hidden sketches of the artist as well as mystery handprints left in the paint. According to a spokesperson for the Gallery, “These new images were found because the drawings were made in a material that contained some zinc, so it could be seen in the macro x-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) maps showing where this chemical element was present, and also through new infrared and hyperspectral imaging.

“Why Leonardo abandoned this first composition still remains a mystery.”

Of other discoveries, he added: “Handprints resulting from patting down the priming on the panel to create an even layer of more or less uniform thickness can also be seen, probably the work of an assistant - but perhaps even by Leonardo himself.”

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, National Gallery director, said: “This exhibition represents a fascinating new venture for the National Gallery, combining the most recent technical research on The Virgin Of The Rocks with an immersive, enveloping experience, giving visitors the opportunity to explore Leonardo da Vinci’s creative process in making this masterpiece.”

The show celebrates Da Vinci’s finest works; it washes you over with its provocative & brave composition, it carries a certain playfulness that Leonardo adds in all his paintings, and it is, in fact, a true treasure.