MILAN.- The extraordinary exhibition is the biggest and most important Leonardo show ever to be held in Italy. It is on view to the public at Palazzo Reale.
The result of more than five years of hard work, the exhibition is curated by Pietro C. Marani and Maria Teresa Fiorio, two of the most important art historians specializing in the study of this Renaissance genius. It brings together over two hundred artworks from around one hundred museums and institutions throughout the world which, given the exceptional nature of the exhibition, have loaned some of their greatest treasures for the occasion, such as the three paintings by Leonardo from the Louvre and thirty autograph drawings from the collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana – considered Leonardo's “home” in Milan – which is lending the famous Portrait of a Musician and thirty-eight drawings from the Codex Atlanticus, is also a key contributor to the exhibition.
“A project born from a network of relationships enthusiastically and painstakingly created over a long period with the world’s leading cultural institutions, who wanted to contribute to this great event by loaning some 'jewels' from their collections. A superbly curated exhibition, which is the most important and prestigious devoted to Leonardo’s genius during the semester of Expo Milano 2015, the main attraction of the programme ExpoInCittà,” commented Filippo Del Corno, Councillor for Culture.
The anthology paints a picture of Leonardo that is neither mythographical, rhetorical nor celebratory. Instead it embraces all the work of this multifaceted figure, considered both as an artist and scientist, through a number of key themes identified by the curators: drawing, a fundamental part of Leonardo’s work; the ongoing dialogue of the arts: drawing, painting and sculpture; the dialogue with antiquity; the absolute innovation of the motions of the mind; his tendency towards utopian designs and dreams, such as the ability to fly or walk on water, which features in a specific section of the exhibition; mechanical automation and so on. These themes made him a standard bearer for the unity of knowledge, through the continuous interweaving of science and the arts in his work.
The twelve sections of this extraordinary exhibition illustrate the central themes of Leonardo’s long artistic and scientific career, embracing not only the period of his training in Florence, but also his two stays in Milan, and even his move to France, thus emphasizing certain constants in his artistic and scientific vision. The exhibition narrative also conveys his vocation for interdisciplinarity and his constantly intertwining interests by adopting an analogical approach to the study of the phenomena and their graphic portrayal, summed up and culminating in his later paintings.
The various sections of the show feature Leonardo’s autograph paintings, drawings and manuscripts, introduced by works of the painters, sculptors, technicians and theorists who preceded him. These provide additional context to the master’s contribution to the history of art, science and technique, while painting a picture of Leonardo as an artist and scientist of his time, eschewing the mythological and the banal. However, the two final sections also illustrate Leonardo’s influence as a painter and theorist on modern art and the formation of the legend that surrounds him, centred on the Mona Lisa.
The exhibition features seven great pictorial masterpieces by Leonardo: the St Jerome from the Pinacoteca Vaticana, the Dreyfus Madonna from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Head of a Woman from the Galleria Nazionale di Parma, the Portrait of a Musician from the Ambrosiana and three iconic works from the Louvre: the Belle Ferronière, the small Annunciation and St John the Baptist.
Leonardo Da Vinci, St Jerome, ca 1482, tempera and oil on wood; 102.8 x 73.5 cm. Vatican City, Vatican Museums.
Leonardo da Vinci, Madonna and Child with a Pomegranate or Madonna Dreyfus, about 1469- 1470. Oil on poplar board, cm. 16,5 x 134. National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection, Washington.
Leonardo da Vinci. Head of a young woman, known as The tousled Hair (Leda), 1508. Earth shadow, amber greened and white lead on wood, cm. 24.7 × 21. National Gallery, Parma.
Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of a Musician, about 1485 - 88. Oil on board, cm. 44.7 × 32. Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan.
Leonardo Da Vinci, La Belle Ferronière, about 1493 – 1495, Oil on wood walnut; 63 x 45 cm. Paris, Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures, Collection de François Ier.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Small Annunciation, about 1475 – 78. Tempera on panel, . Paris, Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures, Ancienne collection Campana, Rome. Entré au Louvre en 1863.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Saint Jean-Baptiste (St. John The Baptist), 1506 – 1515 ca. Oil on wood walnut; 73 x 56.4 cm. Paris, Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures, Collection de Louis XIV (acquis en 1661).
Some of Leonardo’s original codices also are on display, together with at least one hundred autograph drawings: the Codex Trivulzianus 2162 – his autograph notebook – held by the Biblioteca Trivulziana of Castello Sforzesco, which can be “virtually” looked through on a touch-screen station; thirty-eight drawings from the Codex Atlanticus, on loan from the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, which has supplied the largest number of works for the exhibition; thirty drawings from The Royal Collection / HM Queen Elizabeth II, six of which can be viewed on the recto and verso; five from the British Museum; four from the Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe at the Uffizi; five from the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and five from the Biblioteca Reale in Turin. There are also a number of other drawings from the Morgan Library in New York and the Fondation Custodia in Paris. Some of these museums are lending other important works by painters active at the same time as Leonardo.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Codex Atlanticus, 710 recto b, 1490, mazzocchio, pen and ink, drilled for dusting; 375 x 154 mm. Milan, and Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan.
Leonardo Da Vinci. Codex Atlanticus, CA 858 recto. Study of the Structure of a large wing, 1490. Pen and ink. cm. 173 x 271. Veneranda Biblioteca and Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Five grotesque heads, ca 1493, pen and ink; 260 x 205 mm. The Royal Collection / HM Queen Elizabeth II
Leonardo da Vinci. Study for the Head of Leda, 1505–07. Pen and ink over black chalk, cm. 200 x 162 The Royal Collection, Queen Elizabeth II.
Leonardo da Vinci, Prospective study for the Adoration of the Magi, 436E recto. Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe degli Uffizi, Florence.
Leonardo da Vinci, Study for a Madonna with a Cat, about 1478-80. Drawing 421E recto. Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe degli Uffizi, Florence.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Female head with look down, pen, ink diluted brown and black, with white highlights on white paper; 281 x 199 mm. Florence, Prints and Drawings of the Uffizi - Superintendence for the State Museums of Florence.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Bear walking, first half of 1480, metal tip; 10.3 x 13.3 cm. Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.369).
Leonardo Da Vinci, University of assault chariots armed with scythes, 1482 - 1485 ac, pen and brown ink acquerelato, metal point on paper; 21 x 29.2 cm. Turin Biblioteca Reale (Royal Library).
Leonardo Da Vinci, Head of a man in profile crowned with laurel, 1506 - 1508 ac, blood brush up pen on paper prepared in red; 22.2 x 17.5 cm. Turin Biblioteca Reale (Royal Library).
Leonardo Da Vinci, Study of drapery, brush and brown ink, on linen; 240 x 193 mm. Paris, Fondation Custodia, Frits Lugt Collection.
Leonardo da Vinci. The proportions of the body according to Vitruvius (Vitruvian Man), 1490drawing engraved and pierced with metal spikes, redone it in ink with touches of the same ink watercolor. Handwritten text with use of other type of ink; 344 x 245 mm. Accademia Gallery, Cabinet of Drawings and Prints, Venice.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Saint Anne, the Virgin and the Child, 1500-1501 AC, drawing engraved with a metal point, studies in pencil retouched pen; 122 x 100 mm. Venice, Gallerie dell'Accademia, the Cabinet of Drawings and Prints.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Studio for Madonna Litta, metal point on prepared paper blue; 17.9 x 16.8 cm. Paris, Musée du Louvre, Département des Arts graphiques.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Study of figures for Adoration of the Magi (recto), two studies crab, pen and brown ink over traces of black chalk tip lead (recto) pen and brown ink (to); 27.6 x 18.7 cm.Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, Cologne.
Lorenzo di Credi, Angelo that runs to the left and the study of drapery, 1474 - 1537 (?), metal tip and brush on pink paper; 243 x 181 mm. British Museum, London.
Andrea del Verrocchio, Female head with an elaborate hairstyle, ca 1475, Charcoal, white lead, pen and brown ink; 325 x 275 mm. British Museum, London.
What is more, the exhibition includes a considerable number of artworks – paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculptures, codices, incunabula and sixteenth-century books – from the world’s most important museums and libraries and from private collections, including works by Antonello da Messina, Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, Paolo Uccello, Ghirlandaio, Verrocchio, Lorenzo di Credi, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Bonaccorso Ghiberti, Bramante and other anonymous treatise writers from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Alessandro Botticelli. The Fortress, 1470. Tempera on panel, cm. 168 x 90.5 x 3. Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
Antonello da Messina. Portrait of a Man, about 1475. Museum Cultural Foundation Mandralisca, Cefalù, Sicily.
Andrea del Verrocchio. Portrait of a woman with bouquet, about 1475-80. Marble, height, cm. 61. National Museum of Bargello, Florence, Italy.
Domenico Ghirlandaio. The Adoration of the Magi, 1487. Tempera on panel, cm. 171,5. Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, Lady in gray, ca 1500 , oil on panel; 49.5 x 40.2 cm. Collection Principi Borromeo Isola.
Painter of the sixteenth century, Battle of Anghiari (Table Doria), oil on panel; 85.5 x 115.5 x 4.5 cm. Florence, Uffizi Gallery.
Leonardo da Vinci in collaboration with GF Rustici (attr.), Horse pace, 1508-1511, bronze; h 156 mm xl 185 mm. Private collection.
The diffusion and fortune of Leonardo’s art and models is illustrated in the exhibition by splendid works by Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, Marco d’Oggiono, Francesco Napoletano, Solario, Francesco Melzi, Giampietrino, Cesare da Sesto, Girolamo and Giovanni Ambrogio Figino and other important artists.
The Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia, which is named after the great master, is also lending two historic models of machines – the self-propelled cart and the gold-beating machine – constructed on the basis of Leonardo’s drawings.
Alessandro Siriati, Arturo Birds, machine beater, 1953, wood, metal and rope; 84 x 100 x 104 cm. Milan, National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci.
Giorgio Canestrini, Carro propelled, 1956, wood, metal and rope; 170 x 250 x 160 cm. Milan, National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci.
Andy Warhol, White on white (reversal series), 1979, 63 x 50.5 cm. Private collection, Stockholm, Sweden.