Tutto Leonardo – almost

This summer, Milan’s Palazzo Reale will play host to the largest exhibition of da Vinci works since 1939.

Over the past several decades, art lovers have seen bits and pieces of Leonardo da Vinci's works, but never a full range gathered in one place. But the exhibition being organized at the Palazzo Reale during the Milan Expo 2015 this summer is set to change all that — at least for a few months, reports The Art Newspaper.

Such an ambitious exhibition has not been attempted since the 1939 Triennale di Milano, which presented a vast overview of the artist’s work, from oil paintings to fully functioning machine designs.

While not encompassing quite as many works as the 1939 event, the Palazzo Reale exhibition will nevertheless be the most inclusive in more than 75 years. It will show paintings, drawings, sketches, manuscripts and codexes and will add context with material from contemporaries and predecessors of da Vinci, such as Sandro Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, Paolo Uccello, and many others.

There will be some major gaps in the lineup. For conservation reasons, the Musée du Louvre refused to lend the Mona Lisa and the Uffizzi did not want to let its Annunciation risk the short trip to Milan. But other legendary works will make it to the show, such as St John the Baptist (from the Louvre) and St Jerome in the Wilderness (from the Vatican Museums).

Why is da Vinci’s work always presented piecemeal? Maria Teresa Fiorio, co-curator of the Milan exhibition, told The Art Newspaper that it "is mainly because the works, painted on panels, are so fragile.” But she also mentioned “how difficult it is for anyone to come to terms with da Vinci’s intellectual and artistic output without falling prey to generalizations or ‘spectacle-exhibitions’ centred around a single work.”

About the Author

Yan Barcelo


Yan Barcelo is a journalist in Montreal.

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