Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre: an exceptional exhibition

Leonardo da Vinci, a recognized genius ahead of his time, has delighted mankind for at least 500 years. His works are still not fully unriddled and hold numerous secrets.

As a result, each exhibition about Leonardo is already a great event, but the one that will be held in the Louvre from October 24, 2019 to February 24, 2020 in general is a phenomenon of international level.

For the first time in one place the largest possible number of paintings, drawings, sketches, diagrams and documents of the creator will be collected, on the basis of which the curators hope to describe the main character as fully as possible.

Da Vinci exhibition in Paris

At the moment, it is not known what exactly can be seen at the exhibition (the mystery prevails even here). But you can definitely enjoy seeing “La belle ferronnière”, a work stored in the Louvre, but not exhibited since 2015, as some experts still doubt the authenticity of Leonardo’s hands.

Also, according to the number and significance of museum and cultural organizations that provide their showpieces to this exhibition, namely the Royal Collection from Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, the National Gallery of London, the Vatican Picture Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum, the French Institute and others, it can be stated with confidence that the exposition will be truly global, to match the central figure of the exhibition.

The event is timed to the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death and is the result of 10 years of preparatory work by researchers, documentaries and restorers of da Vinci’s work.

The curators will give a unique chance to better understand the Master himself, and to feel the importance that he assigned to painting, in comparison with other “life sciences”: engineering, literature, sculpture, anatomy etc.

Art of Leonardo da Vinci

But what do we know about Leonardo? Here are some interesting facts:

  1. Leonardo was ambidextrous – he could write with his left and right hands. Usually he wrote from right to the left, in mirror reflexion. Whether he did this because he was comfortable, or wanted to encrypt his notes, is still unclear;
  2. painted a relatively small number of paintings: only 9 were signed by da Vinci and recognized by the entire art community, the authorship of the remaining 15, among which the “Lady with the Ermine” or “Madonna Litta” and “Madonna Benois” from the Hermitage did not find unanimous support from researchers;
  3. created sketches of a tank, hang glider, helicopter, bicycle, parachute, rapid-fire weapons (assault rifle / machine gun), etc.;
  4. as a result of the autopsy of 30 bodies (only two people were vested with such a right in the age of Renaissance – Leonardo and Michelangelo, since the idea of opening the body was contrary to the Christian faith) made accurate anatomical drawings of the spine from three angles, arms, legs, skull, human embryo, eye structure, heart, which were confirmed by science only in the XX century. And, of course, the Vitruvian Man, which is based on the Greek Golden Ratio;
  5. we know nothing about his personal life, except that he was never married, and that a trial of sodomy was conducted over him;
  6. many of his works: engineering, anatomical, pictorial, Leonardo did not finish;
  7. he left behind a literary legacy “A Treatise on Painting”, aphorisms, allegories, prophecies, riddles, and a treatise “On the Game of Chess,” in which he contributed part of his illustrations and, of course, diaries, 7,000 pages have survived to date, scattered in different museum collections and private collections.

Speak by this list, Leonardo did not pay close attention to painting, which the curators of the exhibition do not agree with.

What will be at the exhibition, except for paintings by Leonardo da Vinci

In general, it is customary in the art community to divide the biography and work of da Vinci into several periods, depending on its territorial movements.

He began his career in the studio of the Florentine artist del Verrocchio, who was quickly overshadowed by his talent, and was accepted into the Guild of Saint Luke (only this allowed the artist to create and sell his works).

But not finding a place in Florence, where Botticelli, Lippi, the brothers Pollayolo and others created then, Leonardo writes a letter to the ruler of Milan, where he advertises himself from the point of view of an engineer of defensive structures and military equipment, and only at the very end of the letter he says that he is also engaged in painting and sculpture “at the level of any other artist”.

So begins the Milan period of da Vinci, during which such innovations as “tank” and “helicopter” were designed (on paper), but also written “The Last Supper”, which is still located in the refectory of the Milanese monastery and two “Madonna in the Grotto” (one of which hangs in the Louvre).

Judging by the fact that the London National Gallery also gives its work to the exhibition, they will probably bring the second version of Madonna in Grotto to Paris, and this will be the first time when visitor will have a unique opportunity to compare two paintings.

But back to the writing.

As a result of what Leonardo wrote about himself as an artist, at the very end of his writing, the researchers came to the erroneous thought that he appreciated his talent as a painter very little.

From the point of view of the curators of the exhibition, this writing should rather be interpreted as Da Vinci’s desire to profitably “sell” his engineering talents to please the Milan ruler, who wanted to build up the military power of his country, so that after he could calmly create paintings and do scientific research.

This was achieved. Therefore, the description of periods with the main movements of Leonardo, up to France, his last abris, is not entirely true, since it was not the context and environment that affected his performance, but the context he created for creation.

As for the painting, it was the very instrument that captured the thoughts of Leonardo. Only thanks to paper, charcoal, canvas and artistic talent did the legacy of Leonardo da Vinci reached us, which we can study, analyze and even bring to life.

The exhibition will be complemented by some sculptural and picturesque works from the environment of Da Vinci, as well as the project “Face to face with the Mona Lisa” in virtual reality format, promising visitors an immersion in the picture and personal communication with Mona Lisa herself.

In order to get to the exhibition, you must pre-buy a ticket on the Louvre’s official website “Exposition Leonard de Vinci pour visiteur individuel”. You should choose a specific date and time, 17 euros (19 dollars) ticket includes a visit to the permanent exhibition as well. Hurry up to buy tickets, as their number is limited and you cannot buy it at the box office, only online booking.

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