Leonardo da Vinci, La belle ferronnière, 1490-1496. Oil on wood, 24 x 17 in.
The year 2019 marks the 500-year anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci in France, of particular importance for the Louvre, which holds the largest collection in the world of da Vinci’s paintings, as well as 22 drawings. The museum is seizing the opportunity in this year of commemorations to gather as many of the artist’s paintings as possible around the five core works in its collections: The Virgin of the Rocks, La Belle Ferronnière, the Mona Lisa (which will remain in the gallery where it is normally displayed), the Saint John the Baptist, and the Saint Anne. The objective is to place them alongside a wide array of drawings as well as a small but significant series of paintings and sculptures from the master’s circle.
This unprecedented retrospective of da Vinci’s painting career will illustrate how he placed utmost importance on painting, and how his investigation of the world, which he referred to as “the science of painting,” was the instrument of his art, seeking nothing less than to bring life to his paintings. The exhibition is the culmination of more than ten years of work, notably including new scientific examinations of the Louvre’s paintings, and the conservation treatment of three of them, allowing for better understanding of da Vinci’s artistic practice and pictorial technique. Clarification of his biography has also emerged through the exhaustive reexamination of archival documents. The exhibition will paint the portrait of a man and an artist of extraordinary freedom.
(Photo courtesy of Musée du Louvre.)