The brochure carries updated information on the vicissitudes and importance of the Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo Da Vinci. Polish scholars Zdzislaw Zygulski Jr and Janusz Walek have reconstructed the vicissitudes of the painting since it was purchased by Polish prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski when he came to Italy in 1800. He gave it to his mother Isabella, who was collecting works of art that - after many vicissitudes - would be exhibited at Cracow National Museum, where the Lady is still kept.
The essay by Pietro C. Marani - who is also the author of a monographic study on the painting - enables to recognize the role of the Lady with an Ermine in the context of the Lombard painting of the XV and XVI century. The period, in fact, thanks to Leonardo's stimulating activity, saw the birth of "modern portraits"
Janice Shell tells us about the portrayed woman, Cecilia Gallerani, a prominent court lady in Milan, friend of poets and men of letters. Just out of her teens, she had a love affair with Ludovico il Moro, the duke of Milan, who probably commissioned the portrait to the court artist Leonardo da Vinci around 1489.
The essay by Grazietta Butazzi is about fashion of that time and about the early influence of the Spanish style on Northern Italy, which is quite evident looking at Cecilia's hairstyle and at the blue cloak covering one of her shoulders (the "sbernia").
Barbara Fabjan concentrates on the possible meanings of the small ermine in Cecila's arms. It could be a symbol of Ludovico il Moro himself, who became a member of the Order of the Ermine in 1488. the ermine could also symbolize the virtue of "moderation", which implies "courtesy" and "kindness".
Finally, the American scholar David Bull presents the results of accurate examinations the painting underwent in the restoration laboratories of Washington National Gallery of Art, giving explanations and providing starting points for further interesting theories.
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Highlights of the exhibition
Who was Cecilia Gallerani
Formal meanings and iconography
Preservations and scientific examinations
Dress and coiffure
The story of the painting in the Czartoryski collection
The Lady with an Ermine and portraits in the period between the XV century and XVI century in Milan
Leonardo Da Vinci: biography