Paris, 28 September 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).
Entitled La Bella Principessa, the Italian master Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing is stirring up trouble between the greatest experts. French newspaper Le Figaro announced that a long scientific inquiry is currently being held into the authenticity of the work as the hand of the Italian artist. The drawing was sold at the end of the 1990s by Christie’s for £11,400, which may well turn out to be a very good deal.
It is no wonder that the attribution of the drawing to Leonardo Da Vinci is being debated as he is considered as one of the greatest geniuses of our time and the reputation of several experts and auction houses is also at stake.
An article in The Guardian suggests that the auction house Christie’s attributed the piece to a nineteenth-century German artist and a gallery thought it was a fake made in the twentieth century, but these statements preceded the analysis and research by a professor of Oxford University: Martin Kemp. He identified the drawing as a missing page from a manuscript of the fifteenth century that belonged to one of the Vinci patrons: the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Maria Sforza said Ludovico il Moro.
From 1482 to 1500, Leonardo Da Vinci maintained his connection with Italian nobles who were very active in promoting the arts. Professor Kemp identified the work as a portrait of the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Milan who died at thirteen after her marriage. To establish this link, Kemp found the manuscript in Warsaw and accumulated evidence for authentication. This assertion is supported by another expert, Carlo Pedretti, but some, like Jacques Franck, doubt that the drawing is truly by the master’s hand, particularly due to some errors of anatomical representation. The main opposition comes from experts and dealers which have always refused to attribute this drawing to Léornard Vinci.
The debate on the authenticity of this drawing is not nearly at an end, but rather reminds us that the art market is still full of surprises, especially if one refers to the discovery in July: Salvator Mundi, a painting recognized by a panel of experts, academics and scientists as the hand of da Vinci. This piece will soon be exhibited in London at the National Gallery during the event “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan” scheduled from 9 November to 5 February 2012.