Ok, granted, Pietro Marani and Maria Teresa Fiorio ARE considered the world’s foremost da Vinci experts… but how do you put together yet another Leonardo show without it simply being “yet another Leonardo show”?
They tackled the first value by which shows are judged, quantity, in the only way possible. They assembled the greatest number of Leonardo’s works of art and drawings ever; greater than the recent magnificent 2011 National Gallery show in London, and greater even than the 1939 Palazzo dell’Arte show in Milan that experts still talk about in reverential tones.
In order to pack even more punch however, the seven paintings, 110 drawings, and numerous sculptures assembled from all over the world are flanked by yet more paintings and manuscripts and masterpieces by the artists and scientists who preceded Leonardo or who were his contemporaries and by whom he was influenced.
And this is perhaps the novelty of this show, which ensures that the second value judgement, quality, also gets top marks. Marani and Florio point out that, while also true, the “Leonardo the genius visionary before his time” is very much a 19th century academic construct. The perspective they introduce in this ground-breaking show is that Leonardo was also a genius in his ability to interpret and ultimately perfect the technology, science, knowledge, aesthetics, and culture of his time.
Not to be missed! Through July 19th, Leonardo 1452-1519: Il Disegno del Mondo, at the Palazzo Reale, Milan.