Recorded lecture: ‘Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre: how to organise an impossible exhibition’, by Vincent Delieuvin, hosted by the Research Forum, The Courtauld

In 2019-2020, the Louvre organized an exhibition to celebrate the 500-year anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci in France, of particular importance for the museum, which holds the largest collection in the world of da Vinci’s paintings, as well as 22 drawings. The retrospective of da Vinci’s painting career wanted to illustrate how he placed utmost importance on painting, and how his investigation of the world, which he referred to as “the science of painting,” was the instrument of his art, seeking nothing less than to bring life to his paintings.

The museum tried to seize the opportunity to gather as many of the artist’s paintings as possible around the five core works in its collections, but also a wide array of drawings as well as a small but significant series of paintings and sculptures from the master’s circle.

The exhibition was the culmination of more than ten years of work, notably including new scientific examinations of the Louvre’s paintings, and the conservation treatment of three of them, allowing for better understanding of da Vinci’s artistic practice and pictorial technique. Clarification of his biography has also emerged through the exhaustive reexamination of archival documents. Vincent Delieuvin, one of the two curators of the exhibition, explains in this recorded lecture how he conceived the project and tried to solve the important problems of loans.

Vincent Delieuvin is Chief curator for Italian Sixteenth Century Paintings at the Louvre. He organized several exhibitions on Italian Renaissance: « Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese… Rivals in Venice » in 2009, « The Saint Anne, Leonardo da Vinci’s Ultimate Masterpiece » in 2012 and « late Raphael » in 2012-2013. More recently, he published several articles on Leonardo da Vinci and organized in 2019-2020 the exhibition celebrating the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death in France.

Organised by Dr Scott Nethersole (The Courtauld) and Dr Guido Rebecchini (The Courtauld). Watch the video here, on The Courtauld’s YouTube channel, as part of the Research Forum’s Lecture Series.

Click here for a full playlist of recorded lectures on medieval and early modern art from the Research Forum at The Courtauld.


Published by Dr Julia Faiers

Julia Faiers received her PhD from the University of St Andrews in 2021. She wrote her thesis on the art patronage of Louis d’Amboise, bishop of Albi from 1474 to 1503, under the supervision of Professor Kathryn Rudy. Her postdoctoral research includes the nineteenth-century reception of medieval art and architecture, and late-medieval female art patronage in France. Julia gained a First Class Honours degree in art history at the University of St Andrews (1995). She won a British Academy Award to study for her MA in German Expressionism at The Courtauld under the supervision of Dr Shulamith Behr (1997), and spent almost twenty years working as a journalist before returning to academia in 2016.

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