May 23, 2024

New Leonardos at the Hermitage?


New Leonardos at the Hermitage?
An alternate version of Leonardo's "Virgin of the Rocks," which is currently on display at the Louvre. Evgenii Zolotarev / BBC

An exhibit at the Hermitage claims to be displaying paintings determined to have been created by Leonardo da Vinci. But international experts agreed: these paintings were not touched by the Renaissance master. 

The exhibit, entitled "New Mysteries of the Paintings of Leonardo da Vinci," was partly financed and organized by Konstantin Goloshchapov, an influential St. Petersburg businessman and apparent close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Goloshchapov collects religious art and provided several of the paintings displayed in the Hermitage exhibit. The Hermitage website describes the exhibit as being created "in collaboration" with the scholars Carlo Pedretti and Luca Tomio. One minor issue: Pedretti has been dead since 2018, and Tomio has no academic or institutional affiliations backing up his research. 

The paintings newly attributed to Leonardo, "The Battle of Anghiari" and "The Virgin of the Rocks" are a variation and version, respectively, of works located at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and the Louvre in Paris. While it is not unheard of for works of art to be reattributed after extensive research and study by experts, or for variations of famous paintings to be discovered, these paintings are near universally considered to not be by Leonardo. 

“Not a single serious researcher, that is, a qualified expert on Leonardo’s work, will support such an attribution," Frank Zöllner, a professor at Leipzig University, told BBC Russia. 

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