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The Great Curator; A Tour of the Art in Doctor Who: Part Two – Leonardo da Vinci


Back again, so soon? How marvellous! Well, I think it’s marvellous. So nice to see you all again here in the Under Gallery. Well, almost all of you. Remember last time? One of you won’t be joining us – I told him not to wander off – didn’t I tell you not to wander off?

That imbecile wandered off into our collection of floors – rather spectacular if I say so myself:

The red and white chessboard from the Tower of Rassilon in the Death Zone (The Five Doctors)…

The Exxilons’ city puzzle floors (Death to the Daleks)…

The great Seal from the pit of Kroptor -‘the bitter pill’ (The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit)…

 The basements from Tidmarsh Manor (Planet of the Spiders)…

And Fetchborough Priory, (Image of the Fendahl)…

Which you may consider a little brash, but you can’t deny it had Stael. Then there’s the one from the cavern of the Church in Devil’s End (The Daemons)…

Yes, I know it looks pretty, but it had dear old Sergeant Benton playing a particularly nasty form of Twister.

Which rather illustrates my point: one absolutely most not step on them. Well, what did the wanderer expect? Step on any of those and you either blow yourself to smithereens or summon up ancient evil from the mists of time, and I know a thing or two about that, let me tell you. It took Osgood weeks to clear up that mess.

Not all our floors are weapons; this one was a warning, a last confession from people who were weaponised; good scientists forced to create things to kill others (The Ghost Monument). Perhaps the saddest of our collection.

So, heed the warning and Don’t Wander Off.

But, to more cheerful things; on with the tour! Where do you fancy today – the Leonardo da Vinci room? You know, there are some people who go to the Louvre to see just one of his paintings, and they can’t even be sure it’s the real thing. They could have done so much more, given the Louvre’s full of real paintings by real people.

Follow me – and no running down the corridors.

Here we are, and look: McGillop has returned Leonardo’s ‘head of a woman’ (The TV Movie) from the Portrait Gallery. But I have a nagging feeling that she should be facing the other way…

But that’s interesting; this shouldn’t be here. Don’t you think that’s interesting?

It’s a rather strange portrait of Romana (City of Death), an over-literal depiction of a Time Lady, but the artist was working under the pressure of time – a crack in time, in fact. Cracks seem to be a problem for a few of the TARDIS’ travellers over the years. Besides, the café he was sketching in was about as fake as a frog in a Fabergé, right down to the gingham cloths, gallic shrugs and berets, and calls for ‘deux Beaujolais!’

Now these are the real thing; Leo’s drawing was always fascinating. See this sketch of a helicopter (City of Death).

Novel mechanism, can’t really call it art, but astounding creativity and imagination, so far ahead of his time. Almost as bad as Churchill for wanting to know what the future held. I had a devil of a job keeping clues from him, and that Meddling monster giving him ideas about powered flight didn’t help (The Time Meddler). Just look at his idea for a flying machine from Professor Eldred’s museum (The Seeds of Death).

And who knows what Leonardo and River got up to while she was distracting him so Helen could play art thief (Big Finish’s Doomsday Coalition: The Doomsday Chronometer).  The trouble they get into without me. Dear dear.

And here she is; one of the great treasures of the universe: Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, but you may know her as the Mona Lisa.

Well, one of them, but at least I can guarantee that this is a real one: it has ‘This is a fake’ scribbled in felt tip underneath. A copy is still of interest; they’re collected all over the universe, and should not be destroyed unless in extreme circumstances. Rory only ever had eyes for Amy, whatever age she was (The Girl Who Waited).

‘Why hasn’t she got any eyebrows?’ – is that all you can say; ‘no eyebrows’? We’re talking about the Mona Lisa! Though I remember she couldn’t sit still, so poor Leo could never get the smile quite right. Sitting there for all those years, visitors given only 20 seconds glance. Sarah Jane said she almost felt sorry for her. But that’s another story (specifically, The Sarah Jane Adventures: Mona Lisa’s Revenge).

The Count Scarlioni was such a great collector of art; exceptional paintings, Ming Vases, Shakespeare first folios, Louis Quinze chairs. Shame he saw most of it as capital investment. But the most beautiful of his acquisitions was the Countess herself. Probably. Mind you, as he flounced around in tight-fitting leather, heavy eye make-up, or a loud silk dressing gown declaring ‘I am who I am’ one might suspect that, as a wife, the Countess was more decorative than functional. But I digress.

Leo never did complete the wall painting of Battle of Anghiari, though many have tried to recreate it, from his sketches like this one. There is much speculation in the Art World about where he was for a few months, and what happened to the original. You might think I know more about that than I’m telling — well, I couldn’t possibly comment (Big Finish’s Unbound: A Storm of Angels). I could answer all sorts of mysteries from your world’s history, but where would be the fun in that, hm?

My, my, is that the time? I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave our tour unfinished too, so until the next time: Bye bye everyone, bye bye!

Bar Nash-Williams

The Great Curator; A Tour of the Art in Doctor Who: Part Two – Leonardo da Vinci

by Bar Nash-Williams time to read: 4 min
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