Leonardo sketches amaze in Venice
Biggest show of drawings in 33 years29 August, 18:44
(ANSA) - Venice, August 29 - The biggest show of drawings by Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci in more than 30 years, including his iconic Vitruvian Man, is set to amaze visitors to Venice's Gallerie dell'Accademia until December.
The Vitruvian Man was based on the writings of the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, who correlated the measurements and design of the human body into architecture. Drawn on fragile paper, there are fears it will suffer lasting damage when it is put on display - the main reason it has been in the Accademia's vaults since 1980.
In all, the Leonardo da Vinci, Universal Man show presents 57 famous Leonardo drawings including the Accademia's 30-strong collection.
It includes 27 loans from Italian museums such as the Uffizi, the National Gallery of Parma and the Royal Library of Turin, as well as European collections including the Royal Collection Trust of Windsor Castle, the British Museum, the Louvre and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
Curator Annalisa Perissa Torrini, director of the Accademia's Cabinet of Drawings, said "the exhibition is a sort of personal diary, a lesson in the artistic and scientific development of the maestro from 1478 to 1516".
In that span da Vinci created the masterpieces that adorn galleries worldwide as well as carrying out scientific research into proportions, nature, arms, wars, architecture, physics and mechanics that was light years ahead of his contemporaries.
The collection also includes preparatory drawings for his famous Nativity and Last Supper paintings, amongst many others.
An important portion of the show is dedicated to studies into proportions, where the Vitruvian Man stands head and shoulders above all similar works, a symbol of the classical mind-body perfection precept.
Next to the Man, viewers will be able to enjoy another two drawings that were last seen together in 1992: one from Windsor and the other from Turin.
Opening the exhibition are Leonardo's botanical studies as well as geometric projects, and paintings of men and clouds.
One of the highlights are The Studies of Form, or 'Foglio Tema' in Italian.
"Here, Leonardo conceives of form as an entity that can be endlessly transformed, according to rules of geometry and proportion that have, to his mind, characteristics of absolute regularity and harmony," Perissa Torriani said. "He attempts to show the presence of these laws in all spheres of nature: from the human body to those of animals, from the branches of trees to those of rivers, from geometric shapes to those of fossils. "This concept of the infinite malleability of forms is a salient feature of his entire activity as artist, designer of machines and investigator of the phenomena of the physical world," she said.
Some 10 preparatory studies for Leonardo's famed lost fresco The Battle of Anghiari, the holy grail of art history, will give visitors "a major grasp of the significance" of the vanished work, believed by some to lie behind a painted-over wall in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio.
Of particular interest from the Venetian collection are The Dancers, two female figures whirling with veils and drapes, and the equally famous Pointing Lady of Windsor.
Da Vinci's military imagination will be showcased by prototypes of tanks, armour, weapons and fighters, from the Venetian collection and on loan from the Louvre.
Perissa Torrini said she hoped the show would provide visitors with an insight into the "intimate workings" of da Vinci's mind.
The sketches show da Vinci "reasoning and translating from his brain to his hand but always retracing his steps to add corrections and additions".
And all of the works, of course, feature his still-undeciphered right-to-left writing, which has fascinated and baffled researchers for centuries.
They may not be stumped forever, Perissa Torrini said.
"Some new studies of the back-to-front script are in the offing, and experts are holding out great hope," she said.