GOTHENBURG, Sweden—Leonardo da Vinci—an exhibition of his works, that is—last visited Sweden 15 years ago. Now masterworks of the artist will return with paintings of the master’s contemporaries Michelangelo and Raphael.
This is the first time work of the three Renaissance greats will be shown together outside Italy. A highlight of the show is the latest da Vinci discovery: “La Bella Principessa.”
Planned for next March through August, the exhibition is titled “And There Was Light.” To publicize the event, a press conference was held on Oct. 29 in Gothenburg.
Da Vinci expert, director of the da Vinci museum in Tuscany, and curator of the exhibition, Alessandro Vezzosi, was on hand, accompanied by Francesco Buranelli. Buranelli is the exhibit’s scientific curator, the Vatican’s vice minister of culture and former head of the Vatican museums.
Vezzosi was one of the experts who established the artist's identity in a painting thought to be a German-made painting in Leonardo’s style.
Buranelli concurs with Vezzosi’s finding: “I have come to the conclusion that Leonardo da Vinci is the artist [of “La Bella Principessa”]. You can all see the obvious light, harmony, and perfect proportions. The accuracy of the drawing makes us think of her eyes as the mirror of the soul."
A fingerprint found by multispectral analysis was compared with one found in another of Leonardo's earliest paintings. They matched. The painting was dated 1490 by using clues of the figure’s hairnet and pattern around her braid. The analysis also showed that the artist painted with his left hand, which Leonardo did.
The painting will be included in the exhibition, thanks to art collector Peter Silverman, who has owned it since 2007. He bought it for $19,000. The painting is now estimated to be worth $150 million.
Vezzosi said that despite wars and natural disasters, art flourishes. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael are the Renaissance’s greatest masters. They were all born in Italy in the second half of the 1400s. They set new standards of art driven forward by their own effort.
“Artists, poets, and musicians came to show the rebirth of man's creative force,” he said.
The exhibition in Gothenburg will present new research and discoveries that will shed light on the rivalry and friendship between da Vinci and Michelangelo. Ties and conflicts between them had a bit part to play in the works they created.
“It has been an agony to select works for the exhibition … [with its] focus on architecture, inventions, [each artist’s] life, and history,” Buranelli said.
“Leonardo has drawn fortifications and weapons. That Michelangelo had done the same was a surprise. They did so to defend Florence when it came to war. Michelangelo's drawings will be displayed at the exhibition.”
Buranelli said the exhibit includes works by Raphael, including a painting of a man and a boy: “Without a doubt, a masterpiece, but not so pleasant to look at, not beautiful. It is called the "Boy Possessed by the Demon."
Buranelli explained that the top part of the picture shows the presence of God, and the lower part a boy who might suffer from epilepsy. The painting is expressionistic—the emotional impact has been strengthened. Raphael was the master of harmony. This painting could be compared with modern works such as Edvard Munch's “The Scream.”
“Fifty selected works from Europe will provide a fascinating picture along with other contemporary artists such as Dürer, and this will enrich the exhibition,” says Francesco Buranelli.
The “And There Was Light” exhibit is organized by Excellent Exhibitions, the company’s Swedish representative, Mats Rönngard, said. Negotiations are underway to exhibit in the United States: "It will come to America, that I can guarantee."