Five hundred years after his death, the great Renaissance genius is celebrated at the embassy in a talk between the director of the National Gallery and the chief culture writer at the Economist.
The Embassy of Italy in the UK celebrated Leonardo da Vinci, on the 500th anniversary of his death, with an event entitled The Legacy of Leonardo, a conversation between Gabriele Finaldi, the director of the National Gallery, and Fiammetta Rocco, the chief culture writer at the Economist.
In his welcome speech, the ambassador, Raffaele Trombetta, said that Leonardo helped shape not only art but also a wide variety of other fields, observing that Leonardo incarnated the humanist values that flourished in various fields during the Renaissance, including the sciences mathematics, technology, art, architecture and anatomy – fields that still today reflect Italian creativity, design, technology and innovation. He also gave an overview of the programme of events being held in the UK to celebrate Leonardo, co-organised by the Italian Cultural Institutes in London and Edinburgh, the Italian Trade Agency, and the Italian Chamber of Commerce for the UK, in collaboration with a number of major British cultural institutions.
Finaldi presented Leonardo as a perfect incarnation of the Renaissance spirit, sharing stories about some of the lesser-known aspects of the artist and inventor, including his psychological profile, his passions and personality, based on the many pieces of writing that he left behind, of which Finaldi read a few extracts. He also discussed the relationship between Leonardo and the UK. Hundreds of da Vinci’s drawings are held in the royal collection, while the National Gallery holds one of his most important paintings, the Virgin of the Rocks.
Finaldi also talked about three works in the embassy’s collection whose styles were inspired by Leonardo: two interpretations of the Madonna and Child, by Giampietrino (1495-1521) and Bernadino Lanino (1512-1583) respectively, and The Holy Family by Lake Como, by Bernardino Luini (1481-1532). In particular he drew attention to the chiaroscuro effect favoured by the great artist.
The event is one of 150 being held around the world in 2019 to celebrate Leonardo, organised by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.