Monday, October 7, 2013

Lost Leonardo Portrait Discovered!

Leonardo, Isabella d’Este, painted sometime after 1499, possibly 1514, oil on canvas, 24 x 18 inches (Private collection).
The painting, along with 400 other works, was found in the Swiss bank vault belonging to an unidentified Italian family. It's clearly related to a chalk drawing (below) that Leonardo made of a Renaissance noblewoman in 1499.
Leonardo da Vinci, Isabella d’Este, 1499-1500, red and black chalk, white highlights, 61 cm x 46.5 cm (Musée du Louvre). 
Assuming it really is a Leonardo, this is bigger news than the Van Gogh discoveries last spring!  And there's good cause to think it is a lost Leonardo. According to the Telegraph, scientific tests indicate it's likely, and even more important as far as I'm concerned, my old UCLA professor, the great Leonardo scholar Carlo Padretti, says there is no doubt: “I can immediately recognize da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face.” (BTW, I suspect the Telegraph got this quote a little wrong – I can't imagine Padretti referring to Leonardo as "da Vinci" – but maybe after 45 years he's been Americanized.) Padretti does seem to have some doubt about the tiara and palm leaf, but even if these were done by a pupil, so what. There are only about 20 authenticated Leonardo paintings in existence – what a find!

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