The year of Leonardo is about to end, the 500th anniversary of his death.
In Italy mostly ancillary exhibitions have been organized, the biggest event being the great exhibition at the Louvre.
In France, where he spent a couple of years, mostly very sick, and died, they have organized a big celebration. Many works of the Italian genius have arrived in Paris for a blockbuster exhibition whose visit needs to be booked in advance, although it does not seem to offer anything really new.
However, bravely, as Carmen Bambach writes (The Art Newspaper Dec 2019), some of the reflectographies are also exhibited, both of the works on show and also of others, like the National Gallery’s Virgin of the Rocks that now has its own exhibition in London. In that case, thankfully, a number of diagnostic images are presented; however, in a setting that imitates a restoration lab, rather than a diagnostic lab.
The Art Newspaper (Dec 2019) also reports that this was the year with the largest number of publications on Leonardo (more than 250!).
But what have we learned? What do we know more now than a year ago?
Renato Barilli writes on Artribune (Nov-Dec 2019) “no one has accepted my admonition to remove from his safe works at least the Belle Ferronière, of which there is no news in his time, besides the fact of completely contradicting all of the stylistic features that are usually attributed to the genius of Vinci.
For example, to advance studies on this author, it would have been interesting to compare the Xrays images of the Gioconda, the Musico, Saint John the Baptist and the Belle Ferronière (similar in size and support). All the radiographs were published earlier and you can see the comparison now here.
We now await the discoveries concerning the Vitruvian Man promised in two volumes published by Giunti – the first in January – and in a major exhibition that will take place in Cagliari in May 2020 organized by the State Museum of Sardinia, all with the title “The deception of the Vitruvian Man. The algorithm of the divine proportion”. Here the trailer
In fact, there is still a lot to be investigated on Leonardo and, who knows, may 2020 will be the year in which a totally unknown Leonardo will be revealed. Stay tuned!