23 Oct Leonardo da Vinci
What could be more glamorous than getting a special preview of the exhibition event of the year?
I’m talking about the exhibition about Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci, 1452 – Amboise, 1519), which promises to be the absolute “place to to be” for the international world of art and culture in upcoming months.
The exhibition opens at the Louvre Museum in Paris on October 24 and ends on February 24, 2020.
Many things in this exhibition make a lasting impression, including the monumental bronze St. Thomas by Leonardo’s teacher, Andrea Verrocchio, and reproductions of paintings not in the exhibition but projected on the walls with an amazing sepia effect.
The marbles exhibited are equally impressive, including a bas-relief of the profile of Publius Cornelius Scipio, also attributed to Andrea Verrocchio, and a wonderful portrait of Beatrice d’Este by Gian Cristoforo Romano from the Roman school.
No less fascinating are the terracottas, such as the incredible contortions of a battle scene by Florentine sculptor Gianfrancesco Rustici.
But, I must say that what unexpectedly struck me the most was a series of three paintings hung next to one another.
These are not works by Leonardo da Vinci but ones attributed to his students from the Milanese school who worked in his studio, the artists Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio and Marco D’Oggiono.
From Boltraffio, there is the memorable posture of his portrait of a young man with an arrow with one hand tucked under his jacket, which incredibly enough anticipates portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte.
In the second there is a guy whose lips I would swear (if it weren’t the 15th century) had been Botoxed (and badly botched at that).
The third portrait by Marco d’Oggiono shows a child, Francesco Maria Sforza (1491-1512) known as ‘Il Duchetto’
His head, disproportionately large for his body, has an air that is anything but comforting.
His posture is almost like that of a wise old man, and he holds a poor little bird that is trying desperately, but in vain, to free himself.
What does this all mean? We don’t know, and the caption with its succinct “Portrait of a Child” is no help.
Surely there is something more to it, an allegorical meaning that escapes us moderns.
You can’t have been part of a circle like that of Leonardo‘s without taking something from him, his passion for the unknown, for alchemy.
Seeing the folios written in his hand gave me shivers. I knew he wrote backwards but not that he wrote mirrored.
One of these seems to sum up this personality (though it could never be evaluated in all its incredible expressions). The name of the folio itself ought suffice: the squaring of the circle.
I’ll take my leave by telling you that this exhibition gave me my first experience with virtual reality. That’s right, because at the end of the exhibition route, you can put on a super high-tech mask and see Mona Lisa: beyond the glass like in flesh and blood, watch her breathe, and then, what’s, you can fly.
You read it right. You can get on one of the amazing machines that Da Vinci invented and fly inside one of his incomparable landscapes of Italy, our Bel Paese.
Leonardo da Vinci
from October 24 to February 24, 2020.