Curated by: Giovanna Mori, Alessia Alberti
From 11 September to 15 December 2019, the Sala dei Ducali of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan welcomes the exhibition "Around Leonardo. Graphic works from the Milanese collections". The exhibition, curated by Giovanna Mori and Alessia Alberti, the result of the collaboration between the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana and the Castello Sforzesco, focuses on the fortune and spread of some of Leonardo da Vinci's graphic inventions, and is part of the program of "Leonardo never seen" which contains all the initiatives organized at the Castello Sforzesco, on the occasion of the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the death of the Tuscan genius.
The exhibition presents nine precious and rare graphic works, realized between the nineties of the fifteenth century and the end of the sixteenth century, able to tell the success of the subjects treated by Leonardo, who left significant traces in the work of artists of his circle and for all the following centuries, coming from Milanese institutions such as the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, the Collection of Prints "A. Bertarelli" and the Cabinet of Drawings of the Sforzesco Castle.
The route starts from the Testa di Leda (circa 1504-1506), a drawing belonging to the civic collections of the Castello Sforzesco. The sheet, an autograph of Leonardo, subsequently retouched by the students, is a study in red pencil that fixes the image of the face of the mythical Leda, for which Jupiter turned into a swan and from whose union the Dioscuri were born, then continues with three tables of the so-called "vinciano knots", decorative motifs engraved starting from the inventions of Leonardo, made in the context of his workshop in the mid-nineties of the fifteenth century and nowadays known in very few specimens. The complete series of the six "Vincian knots" is kept in the collections of the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. The refined graphic works on the intertwining games can be particularly appreciated by the public coming from the nearby Sala delle Asse, where through the spectacle of lights and virtual projections the geometries formed by the knots intertwining with the mulberry branches are highlighted; tree that celebrated the political wisdom of Ludovico il Moro.
Also peculiar to Leonardo are the "heads of character", and the influence of these in the portraiture of the artists of his time was very significant. Along the way we meet a suggestive drawing with two grotesque heads - unpublished, already attributed to the original engraver from Prague, Wenzeslaus Hollar (1607-1677) but perhaps a work from the end of the sixteenth century - and a study in black pencil by Giovanni Agostino da Lodi (1500 -1519 circa), with a bearded male head, strongly evocative of research on the expressions of faces in the Cenacle in Santa Maria delle Grazie. The exhibition ends with a focus on the motif of the horse, documented here through three very rare burins, on watermarked papers, made between the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries within Giovanni Antonio da Brescia (active between the end of the XV and the first quarter of the sixteenth century).
The sheets depict horse studies for equestrian monuments most likely associated with projects by Francesco Sforza and Gian Giacomo Trivulzio. "Around Leonardo" is part of the "Milan Leonardo 500" program, promoted by the Municipality of Milan | Culture on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci.