France’s Louvre Museum opened its much-anticipated exhibition to the public on Oct. 24 to mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death.
Drawing from the Louvre’s permanent collection and institutions around the world, the exhibit brings together some 160 works. They include Da Vinci masterpieces, dozens of studies and scientific sketches, and pieces by other artists in Da Vinci’s orbit.
“We wished, in order to pay homage to the artist, to be able to show the entirety of Leonardo Da Vinci’s career and his development and to explain, ultimately, the sense of his life,” curator Vincent Delieuvin told The Associated Press.
The exhibit runs through Feb. 24, 2020. Visitors must reserve tickets online in advance, and the Louvre said it has already pre-sold 220,000 tickets as of Monday morning.
More than 10 years in the making, the project began when Louis Frank, the exhibit’s other curator, translated a Renaissance-era Da Vinci biography to round out existing knowledge about the painter’s life. That biographical emphasis is evident in the exhibit’s design, which traces the artist’s trajectory from his apprenticeship with Florentine sculptor Andrea del Verocchio to his death in France in 1519.
With a whole room devoted to his scientific pursuits, it seeks to capture the quest for knowledge and perfection of a man Delieuvin called “a universal genius.”
“Leonardo Da Vinci, he is one of those rare men, those personalities who fascinate us, because he was universal,” Delieuvin said. “He had an interest in all aspects of nature, we all see ourselves in his personality.”
“Mathematicians, geometry specialists, doctors, artists, everyone sees a part of themselves in Leonardo,” he added.
Several of Da Vinci’s completed paintings will be on display, including “La Belle Ferronniere” and “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne.” The “Mona Lisa” will remain in its case, upstairs. Visitors will be able to see “Portrait of a Musician” on loan from the Vatican and “Benois Madonna” from St. Petersburg, among other works the Louvre borrowed for the occasion.
Some pieces proved more difficult to obtain. The “Vitruvian Man,” Da Vinci’s famous drawing of the ideally proportioned male figure, arrived in France from Venice’s Accademia Gallery only days before the exhibit’s opening.
Though Da Vinci died in France, Delieuvin said Louvre officials recognize and celebrate the painter’s Italian roots.
“I assure everyone that the French have never appropriated Leonardo Da Vinci,” he said. “Leonardo is a genius who is evidently Italian, he was entirely formed in Italy, and he would not have become Leonardo Da Vinci in France.”
Another, still-absent piece has also drawn significant attention. The Louvre put out a call for the “Salvator Mundi” but has yet to receive the painting, which sold to an anonymous buyer for a record-breaking $450 million in 2017.