EXHIBITION INCLUDES LEONARDO’S CODEX ON THE FLIGHT OF BIRDS AND THE HEAD OF A YOUNG WOMAN—NEVER BEFORE SEEN IN NEW YORK
Leonardo da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin
October 25, 2013–February 2, 2014
The genius of Leonardo da Vinci—draftsman, painter, scientist, inventor—continues to captivate us almost five hundred years after his death. This fall, the Morgan Library & Museum (www.themorgan.org, 225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016-3405) will present a unique opportunity to encounter this great Renaissance master.
Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 in the small town of Vinci. Apprenticed in Florence, he moved to Milan around 1482, where he worked at the court of Ludovico Sforza. He returned to Florence around 1500, moved back to Milan a few years later and, on the invitation of King Francis I, eventually settled in France. He died in Amboise in 1519.
The exhibition, Leonardo da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin, will feature a spectacular group of works by Leonardo from the Biblitoeca Reale, Turin, including one of his most famous manuscripts, the Codex on the Flight of Birds, and his wonderful Head of a Young Woman, both on view in New York for the first time. They will be presented together with a selection of other drawings by Leonardo, featuring the scientist as well as the artist. The exhibition will also include works by Leonardo’s followers and the Morgan’s Codex Huygens, a Renaissance manuscript recording lost notes by Leonardo. Leonardo da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin will be on view October 25, 2013–February 2, 2014.
“We are delighted to offer New Yorkers the rare opportunity to see this selection of works by Leonardo,” said William M. Griswold, director of the Morgan Library & Museum. “The Morgan is well known for its superb collection of Italian Renaissance drawings, so this exhibition is particularly apt. We would like to thank our colleagues at the Biblioteca Reale, Turin, for their assistance in organizing the show, and we are especially pleased that it coincides with the Year of Italian Culture in the United States.”
Exploring Nature: Leonardo’s Codex on the Flight of Birds
The exhibition will show two sides of Leonardo. The first section—Exploring Nature—will revolve around Leonardo’s famous Codex on the Flight of Birds (ca. 1505/6), which demonstrates Leonardo’s extraordinary ability to move seamlessly between art, science, and nature. In addition to architectural sketches, designs for machines, and various diagrams, most of the thirty-six pages of this notebook are devoted to detailed observations on the flight of birds. In both the text—written in Leonardo’s characteristic mirror script—and the accompanying drawings, Leonardo carefully analyzed the movement of birds, how they keep their equilibrium, steer their flight, and manage to ascend, descend, and dive. Leonardo’s interest in the flight of birds was largely motivated by his desire to build a machine that would allow man to fly. Presented alongside the Codex on the Flight of Birds will be additional works by Leonardo, including a charming sketch of insects, drawings on the anatomy of the horse, studies of the human body, as well as the Morgan’s own drawing by Leonardo with two machine designs: a device for bending beams and a maritime assault mechanism.
Making Art: Leonardo da Vinci’s Head of a Young Woman
The second section of the exhibition—Making Art— features Leonardo’s Head of a Young Woman, a drawing praised by the legendary connoisseur Bernard Berenson as “one of the finest achievements of all draughtsmanship.” The celebrated study, which served as the model for the angel in Leonardo’s famous Virgin of the Rocks will be shown together with further drawings by Leonardo and his followers, the so-called Leonardeschi. Of particular note are works by Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, Leonardo’s most talented pupil, as well as Francesco Melzi and Cesare da Sesto.
Leonardo’s Legacy: The Codex Huygens
Joining the works from the Biblioteca Reale will be the Morgan’s Codex Huygens, a treatise on painting from the late sixteenth century, closely related to Leonardo. Some of the drawings in fact represent faithful copies of now-lost originals by Leonardo. The name of the codex refers to its former owner, Constantijn Huygens (1628–1697), secretary to King William III of England, who firmly believed it to be an autograph work by Leonardo. This exhibition marks the first time that a selection of sheets from the codex will be shown alongside related drawings by Leonardo.
The Biblioteca Reale
The Biblioteca Reale, Turin, was founded by the Royal House of Savoy in the first half of the nineteenth century to house its magnificent collection of precious rare books, manuscripts, and works on paper, including an important corpus of drawings by Leonardo. A later addition to the collection, the celebrated Codex on the Flight of Birds was presented to the Library not until 1893 during the reign of Umberto I of Savoy as King of Italy. Thanks to the number of autograph drawings and the Codex on the Flight of Birds, the Biblioteca Reale is one of the world’s major repositories of works by Leonardo.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication in English and Italian with essays by three eminent Leonardo scholars. Paola Salvi, Deputy Director of the Accademia delle Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, examines Leonardo’s drawings from Turin and the Codex on the Flight of Birds; Carlo Pedretti, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, discusses the Morgan’s Codex Huygens; and Annalisa Perissa Torrini, Director of the Gabinetto dei Disegni at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Venice, explores the relationship between Leonardo and his followers. In addition, the Morgan will make the entire Codex Huygens available online, with high-resolution images of all 128 sheets.
Leonardo the Artist-Scientist and His Notebooks With Carmen C. Bambach
Thursday, December 19, 6:30 pm
Leonardo da Vinci (1552–1519) has been especially popularized as the universal genius of the Renaissance for his activity as artist and scientist. Carmen C. Bambach, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will attempt to explain some of Leonardo’s methods and innovations, based on an examination of his extant notebooks and practices, and how he was perceived historically. This lecture is co-organized by the Morgan Drawing Institute. Leonardo da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin, will be open at 5:30 pm for lecture attendees.
$15; $10 for Members; Free for students and teachers with valid ID. www.themorgan.org/programs; 212-685-0008 x560
Leonardo da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin
Friday, November 1, 6:30 pm
An informal exhibition tour with curator Per Rumberg. Free with museum admission
BETWEEN THE LINES
Leonardo Da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin
Saturday, November 2, 11 am
Written or drawn, lines are to be read and interpreted. In this interactive gallery talk, a museum educator will lead participants in an hour-long discussion on a selection of works from Leonardo da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin.
Free with museum admission. Space is limited on a first-come first-serve basis.
Leonardo da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin is organized by Per Rumberg, Associate Curator of Drawings at the Morgan Museum & Library. The exhibition is organized by the Morgan Library & Museum and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Italian Cultural Heritage and Activities, the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C., and the Biblioteca Reale in Turin in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of New York and la Fondazione New York. It was made possible with generous support from the estate of Alex Gordon, the T. Kimball Brooker Foundation, Jean-Marie and Elizabeth Eveillard, Diane A. Nixon, and Mr. and Mrs. Seymour R. Askin, Jr., and from Giunti, Finmeccanica, Fondazione Bracco and Tenaris. It is part of 2013—Year of Italian Culture in the United States, an initiative held under the auspices of the President of the Italian Republic, organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C. with the support of Corporate Ambassadors, Eni and Intesa Sanpaolo.
The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The Morgan Library & Museum
The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. Today, more than a century after its founding in 1906, the Morgan serves as a museum, independent research library, musical venue, architectural landmark, and historic site. In October 2010, the Morgan completed the first-ever restoration of its original McKim building, Pierpont Morgan’s private library, and the core of the institution. In tandem with the 2006 expansion project by architect Renzo Piano, the Morgan now provides visitors unprecedented access to its world-renowned collections of drawings, literary and historical manuscripts, musical scores, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, printed books, and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets.
The Morgan Library & Museum
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