Though we have hundreds of his drawings, we have precious few of Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings. Depending on questions of attribution, perhaps 15 survive, of only 20 or so known works painted in his lifetime (see the list of extant works on Wikipedia).
Of Leonardo’s existing paintings, more than half of them, 9 works, will be on display together in an extraordinary exhibition that opens next week at the National Gallery in London.
Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan is the first major exhibition to focus on Leonardo’s paintings, rather than his drawings.
Though the enigmatic Lady Lisa will not be making the journey across the channel, another stunning work from the Louvre will. Leonardo painted two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks and the one from the Louvre will be seen together for the first time with the National Gallery’s own version (images above, 3rd, 4th & 5th down, zoomable version here). I just love the face of Leonardo’s angel in that painting.
In addition to the other works, and the supplementary paintings by other artists that will provide context, there is a stunning jewel that promises to be the centerpiece of the exhibition.
Though its attribution has at times been in question Lady with an Ermine (aka Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, images above, top two — larger image here) will be on loan from the Czartoryski Museum in Krakòw.
Wow. Makes me wish I could jet over for the show. (If Lady with and Ermine is not by Leonardo, it’s by somebody just as good!)
There is an article on The Guardian about how this remarkable show was assembled, another about Leonardo’s portraits of women, and a third urging readers who attend the exhibition to savor the rest of the National Gallery’s superb collection.
Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan will be on view until 5 February 2012.
The museum’s pages for the exhibition unfortunately don’t include many images; you can supplement the descriptions with images from the WGA.