The Metropolitan Museum of Art has opened an exhibit bound to be popular. It is titled "Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman," which affords a rare opportunity to see an unusually extensive collection of drawings by one of the most distinguished figures in the history of art and scientific design. More than 25 private and public collections have been tapped to feed this grand exhibition. The Metropolitan has also been wise to begin the showing with drawings by Adrea del Verrocchio, esteemed as a teacher of Leonardo. Thus one can see the force of influence at work.

But the main attraction is an opportunity to follow the course of Leonardo's achievements, including studies of some of his renowned paintings, such as the Virgin and Child with St. Anne, The Adoration of the Magi and The Last Supper. Although a few of the drawings seem less than monumental, most reflect the master's brilliance. That's true not only for Leonardo as an artist. His scientific contributions are also in evidence.

Visitors to the Metropolitan should plan on a good chunk of time. There is so much to see, and these are works that require close attention to fully appreciate their quality and intricacy. Some may wish to visit more than once. The exhibition, sponsored by Morgan Stanley, is the first comprehensive display of Leonardo's drawings presented in the United States. Expect crowds. Through March 30, 2003, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue. Phone: 212-535-7710.

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