Celebrations that Mark the 500th Anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Death

Museums all across Europe have started making big plans to celebrate the 500th Death Anniversary of the Renaissance Master, Leonardo Da Vinci. While celebrations are wonderful, they tend to create tough competitions for museums to secure exhibition loans. Martin Kemp, the author of Living with Leonardo, says that “there has been a stampede of loan requests for 2019.”

Da Vinci died at the age of 67 on May 2, 1519 in his residence near the royal château of Amboise in the Loire Valley. He had been working for King François I and was buried in the château. His assistant, Melzi, became the principal heir and executor of his estate while the “Mona Lisa” was bequeathed to Salai - an Italian artist and pupil of Da Vinci. Da Vinci was more than just an artist, he was also involved in science, anatomy and architecture. In fact, he continued his work on his scientific studies until his death.

First in line out of the series of exhibitions that will be taking place with Da Vinci’s works in 2019 is the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands. Michiel Plomp, the curator of the museum, said that they managed to “kick off” the celebration just by squeezing the end of their show into the anniversary year, which he then explained made securing loans much easier. The museums’ focus for this exhibition will be on Da Vinci’s physiognomic studies and it is to borrow 30 drawings - half from The British Royal Collection and the rest from major institutions in Paris, Budapest and Vienna.

The blockbuster of the 500th Anniversary will be at the Louvre in Paris during the autumn of 2019. Jean-Luc Martinez, the director of the museum, says that “the goal is to gather the greatest number of works by Leonardo”. There are around 15 fully accepted paintings by Da Vinci worldwide and the Louvre owns not only the infamous Mona Lisa but also 4 other paintings. The museum has also fallen into an incredible position recently by being able to borrow the Salvator Mundi, which was bought by a Saudi Arabian Gulf buyer at $450 million, for the Louvre in Abu Dhabi.

The other major celebrations includes a mind-blowing 500-plus drawings by Da Vinci owned by The British Royal Collection. The highlights of this collection, Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life In Drawing, are to be presented at the Queen’s Gallery at the Buckingham Palace and at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. Martin Clayton, a drawings specialist, will be organising these shows. This celebration is described as “the largest exhibition of Leonardo's works in over 65 years” and will be taking place in November, 2019.

It is incredible to observe the different themes and storylines that various institutions have decided to adopt for the 500th anniversary of Da Vinci’s death. However, as Martin Clayton, said “None of Leonardo’s scientific work was ever published and, of his artistic work, only about 20 paintings survive today. But the common link to all his work was drawing.” - which is the most common form of Da Vinci’s work that institutions are displaying in 2019.

This is why Vastari encourages institutions to indulge in the exhibition, The World of Leonardo Da Vinci, which is by far the biggest and most complete touring exhibition about him. While most of the other Da Vinci exhibitions present copies of machines previously seen, The World of Leonardo Da Vinci is the only one that presents accurate and never before seen reconstructions of Leonardo’s Machines such as the Great Kite or the fully playable Harpsichord-Viola, as well as new discoveries, state-of-the-art restorations and fully interactive codices of Leonardo, digitized from the originals.

Leonardo Da Vinci. The Man behind the Myth is another one to consider. The ambitious objective of this exhibition is to introduce visitors to Leonardo, the man, in multiple dimensions. It allows the visitors to explore his extraordinary intellectual abilities, his incredible creativity, but also to reveal his weaknesses and to recount not only the incredible successes and the imponderable intuition, but also the fears, the defeats and the conflicts with other protagonists of his era that he encountered over the long span of his life.

Not only do these exhibitions take a more ambitious route by bringing Da Vinci’s drawings to life, they also shed light on the different approaches and layers that lies in the works of the Renaissance Master.

More information on “The World of Leonardo Da Vinci” and “Leonardo Da Vinci. The Man behind the Myth”, can be found on the Vastari Exhibitions platform here.