News ID: 259238
Published: 0334 GMT September 25, 2019

Italy to lend Leonardo da Vinci works to France in masterpiece swap

Italy to lend Leonardo da Vinci works to France in masterpiece swap

Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing of a spread-eagled male figure, known as the ‘Vitruvian Man,’ will soon travel to Paris to star in a blockbuster Leonardo exhibition at the Louvre Museum. It will make the trip as part of an exchange agreement signed by the culture ministers of France and Italy, after many months of sometimes bitter negotiations.

The drawing — a study of the proportions of a human body — is one in a series of works that Italian museums are sending to the Louvre for a show to mark the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance master’s death. The show is set to open October 24 and run until February, reported.

As part of the swap, the Louvre will send Raphael masterpieces, including ‘Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione’ and ‘Self-Portrait with a Friend,’ to Italy for a 2020 exhibition of his work at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome.

The principle of an exchange of works by Leonardo and Raphael was laid down in a Franco-Italian summit held in Lyon, France, in 2017. But a diplomatic dispute that broke out between the two countries over the nationalist agenda of Italy’s previous government loomed over negotiations. Relations between the two sides soured further late last year, when Lucia Borgonzoni, then Italy’s undersecretary for culture and a member of the right-wing League party, questioned the logic of lending multiple Leonardos in a major anniversary year. “Leonardo is Italian, and he only died in France,” she said. Borgonzoni later told The New York Times that France was showing “a lack of respect” and treating Italy like a cultural “supermarket.”

The countries’ culture ministers began working toward reconciliation in February, and talks resumed thereafter. Italy’s new culture minister, Dario Franceschini, and his French counterpart, Franck Riester, finalized the list of loans.

Franceschini described the deal as “an extraordinary occasion,” allowing Leonardo and Raphael to be remembered in major tribute exhibitions. (Next year is also the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death.)

‘Vitruvian Man’ is a loan from the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is lending four other important drawings: A landscape, a preparatory sketch for the Adoration of the Magi and two drapery studies. The gallery is not sending any paintings, however: ‘Annunciation,’ which had been requested by the Louvre, will remain in Florence, where it will continue to hang in a new space dedicated to Leonardo.

The Louvre already has the world’s largest collection of da Vinci paintings. After his death in the Loire Valley town of Amboise, where he was a guest of King Francis I, the paintings became part of the French national collections. The Louvre’s five Leonardo masterpieces include the ‘Mona Lisa’.

The only Leonardo painting in the Italian national collections heading to Paris is ‘Head of a Woman (La Scapigliata),’ an unfinished portrait of a disheveled beauty, which belongs to the Galleria Nazionale di Parma.

Two other Leonardo paintings will be sent from the collections of the Vatican under separate agreements, according to the Louvre.

They are ‘St. Jerome,’ from the Vatican Museums, an unfinished oil-on-wood painting of the saint, and ‘Portrait of a Musician,’ from the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan.



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