Royal Museums Turin verified

Turin, Piedmont, Italy closed Visit museumarrow_right_alt

ongoing Leonardo's Self-Portrait

The show

From 28 March to 30 June 2024, as part of the Face to Face with Leonardo initiative, the Royal Library of Turin offers an exceptional opportunity to learn about and explore Leonardo da Vinci's work up close and admire some of his masterpieces preserved in the heritage of the Royal Museums.

The exhibition Leonardo's Self-Portrait. History and contemporaneity of a masterpiece is set up in the two vault rooms of the Royal Library, created in 1998 and 2014 with the support of the Consulta for the Valorization of Artistic and Cultural Heritage of Turin. The exhibition, in a totally new version curated by Paola Salvi, professor at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, aims to historically frame the famous Self-Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci starting from the years of its creation, following the traces that document its knowledge in the second half of the sixteenth century and the first of the nineteenth century, before its arrival at the Royal Library of Turin, and its subsequent consecration and dissemination.

On the basis of the curator's most recent studies, which support the execution of the drawing between 1517 and 1518, in the last years of Leonardo's life in Amboise at the court of King Francis I of France, the exhibition ideally reconstructs the context and the work of the artist, as if you were in his studio.

In the first vault, for the first time next to Leonardo's Self-Portrait, the precious manuscript from the National Library of Naples containing the Diary of the Itinerary of Cardinal Luigi of Aragon written by Antonio de Beatis, who accompanied the Cardinal in his journey through northern Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands and who visited Leonardo with him in the Castle of Clos Lucé on 10 October 1517; from this chronicle we obtain a precious first-hand testimony of Leonardo's appearance at that date, of the studies he was conducting, of the paintings most dear to him still in his atelier, of the enormous amount of papers on artistic and scientific subjects that had occupied his his life, on which the artist, worn out by age but still extremely active, continued to work. The contextualization to the French period is made possible by the exceptional loan of six sheets of the Atlantic Codex from the Veneranda Pinacoteca and Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, made between 1517 and 1518: it is a group of drawings, exhibited together for the first time to the Self-portrait, from which we obtain invaluable proof of his ability to draw and write in a firm and precise way, of the projects and research that the artist continued to incessantly pursue in the final stages of his life and of the constant relationship of exchange and intimate sharing with Francesco Melzi, the student who will inherit his immense legacy of papers that the artist-scientist would have liked to become books on the subjects that had occupied him in life. Among the sheets on display, 770v of the Codex Atlanticus, in which, together with some sketches by Leonardo's hand, there is a study by a pupil which depicts a left hand - believed to be Leonardo's - sketching the waviness of the hair with a trait similar to that of the Self-portrait; folio 920r which contains studies on the canalization works of the Loire and the memory of the visit to Romorentin, in the company of the king of France; 309v in which Leonardo notes a fundamental reflection on the principles of representing a face: "That face which in painting regards the face of the master who makes it, always concerns everyone who sees it". In the case of a self-portrait, the face looking at the master who makes it is the artist himself: Leonardo reminds us that the master wanted to leave an image of himself not only to be looked at, but which continues to look at us. Folio 307v is on display, one of the most spectacular in the Codex Atlanticus, with studies on the squaring of curvilinear elements and on geometric equivalence, topics that almost obsessed Leonardo from the Roman years until the end of his life. And again 673r, double sheet with the last date noted by Leonardo: "24 June, the day of San Giovanni 1518 in Ambosa in the Clu palace".

Works on display

Timetable and tickets


Piazzetta Reale, 1
10122 Turin


Discounts and prices’ reductions with the Artsupp Card

With the Artsupp Card you can get, for the first time, discounts and reduced entrance tickets for Italian museums .

Discover more

More on the program

date_range undefined undefined


Until 30 June 2024

date_range undefined undefined


Until 28 July 2024

Other exhibitions in Torino

date_range undefined

Car Crash

Until 28 April 2024

scheduled date_range undefined

Liquida Photofestival

From 02 May 2024 to 05 May 2024

date_range undefined

Rebecca Moccia

Until 10 May 2024

Related searches

date_range undefined
date_range undefined

Eucharistic allegory

Until 16 February 2025

What you can find on Artsupp

Artsupp is the museums’ portal through which it’s easy to discover art, exhibitions and artworks. Now museums in France, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain can also share their activities with users

About us