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Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition: Painter at the Court of Milan

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Written by Aksel Ritenis

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9 November 2011 – 5 February 2012

National Gallery, Sainsbury Wing, Trafalgar Square, London

 

 

Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan is the most complete display of Leonardo’s rare surviving paintings ever held. This unprecedented exhibition – the first of its kind anywhere in the world – brings together sensational international loans never before seen in the UK.

Leonardo the artist. While numerous exhibitions have looked at Leonardo da Vinci as an inventor, scientist or draughtsman, this is the first to be dedicated to his aims and techniques as a painter. Inspired by the recently restored National Gallery painting, The Virgin of the Rocks, this exhibition focuses on Leonardo as an artist. In particular it concentrates on the work he produced as court painter to Duke Lodovico Sforza in Milan in the late 1480s and 1490s.

 

As a painter, Leonardo aimed to convince viewers of the reality of what they were seeing while still aspiring to create ideals of beauty – particularly in his exquisite portraits – and in his religious works, to convey a sense of awe-inspiring mystery.

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) and anonymous sixteenth-century painter

Virgin and Child (‘The Madonna of the Yarnwinder’), about 1499 onwards

Oil on walnut

48.9 cm x 36.8 cm

Private Collection, on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh

© The 10th Duke of Buccleuch and The Trustees of the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust Photo Antonia Reeve

 

Featuring the finest paintings and drawings by Leonardo and his followers, the exhibition examines Leonardo’s pursuit for perfection in his representation of the human form.

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

Study for the hands of Saint John, about 1491–3

Black chalk on paper

11.7 x 15.2 cm

Lent by Her Majesty The Queen (RL 12543)

The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

 

Works on display include ‘La Belle Ferronière’ (Musée du Louvre, Paris), the ‘Madonna Litta’ (Hermitage, Saint Petersburg) and ‘Saint Jerome’ (Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome).

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Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

The Virgin and Child (‘The Madonna Litta’), about 1491–5

Tempera on canvas, transferred from wood

42 x 33 cm

© The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. 2011. (GE-249)

Photo by Vladimir Terebenin, Leonard Kheifets, Yuri Molodkovets

 

The two versions of Leonardo’s ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ – belonging to the National Gallery and the Louvre – will also be shown together for the first time. Find out more about the two paintings.

 

The final part of the exhibition features a near-contemporary, full-scale copy of Leonardo’s famous ‘Last Supper’, on loan from the Royal Academy. Seen alongside all the surviving preparatory drawings made by Leonardo for the ‘Last Supper’, visitors will discover how such a large-scale painting was designed and executed.

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Giovan Pietro Rizzoli, called Giampietrino (active about 1508–1549)

The Last Supper, about 1520

Oil on canvas

302 x 785 cm

© Royal Academy of Arts, London (03/1230)

 


Staff Correspondent – Connoisseur Magazine

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Aksel Ritenis

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