Italia Nostra: "The loan of the Vitruvian Man to the Louvre is illegitimate: by law it could not leave Italy"

Italia Nostra is speaking out against the loan of the Vitruvian Man to France. According to the association, it is illegitimate because it contravenes the Cultural Heritage Code.

Italia Nostra is speaking out against the loan of Leonardo da Vinci ’sVitruvian Man to the Louvre, as well as against the agreement with France for the loans of Leonardo’s and Raphael’s works destined for their respective 500th anniversary exhibitions( list of works here, our editorial on the subject here ). The point is that, according to Italia Nostra’s national president Mariarita Signorini, the Memorandum of Understanding for the exchange of works between works and Paris would not be legitimate. The issue revolves around paragraph 2 of Article 66 of the Cultural Heritage Code, according to which “goods that constitute the main fund of a determined and organic section of a museum, picture gallery, gallery, archive or library or of an artistic or bibliographic collection” cannot leave Italian borders. Signorini disputes the fact that “the Vitruvian Man belongs to the main fund of the Gallerie dellAccademia, based on the allidentification made in a note dated October 23, 2018 (Prot. 2470) by the Museum’s former Director, Paola Marini.”

In addition, again according to the same paragraph, neither “goods susceptible to damage in transport or permanence in unfavorable environmental conditions” can leave the territory of the Italian republic. Leonardo’s drawing, in recent months, was exhibited in an exhibition at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, and the official in charge of the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe of the Gallerie dellAccademia wrote in this regard that “the hypothesis of showing the sheet in the next autumn of the same year at the Louvre, therefore in a very short time frame, contravening technical and conservation regulations, subjects the drawing to a high and excessive risk that cannot be justified and sustained for a work of such importance. To compensate for the double exposure, the Gallerie dellAccademia would be forced not to make the drawing visible for many years, with serious damage to its own collections.”

Italia Nostra then notes that while outside Italy the granting of loans is very judicious, our museums often receive politically and scientifically unacceptable requests, such as the same request for Leonardo’sVitruvian Man for an exhibition in Paris, initially rejected by Alberto Bonisoli and now accepted by Dario Franceschini. Last year, France had requested it, but the former director, Paola Marini, had given a contrary opinion, also on the recommendation of the head of the Galleries’ Prints Cabinet. And again, in recent months the former secretary general of the MiBAC, Giovanni Panebianco, had asked to reconsider the loan, and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence and the Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione e il Restauro in Rome had given a positive opinion on moving the drawing.

In conclusion, Italia Nostra, reserving the right to verify that all procedures have been followed correctly and that theVitruvian Man will not have to undergo displacements that jeopardize its preservation (if not, it has already made it known that it will appeal to the TAR), asks MiBACT that the technical-scientific and objective reasons that led to the decision to lend the work be made known. “We are absolutely opposed,” Signorini concludes, "because a work of inestimable value is going to be lent without due consideration of what is prescribed by the Code. The former minister Bonisoli had done well to block the transfer of Caravaggio’s Seven Works of Mercy within the city of Naples itself."

Image: Leonardo da Vinci, The Proportions of the Human Body According to Vitruvius - Vitruvian Man, detail (c. 1490; metal point, pen and ink, touches of watercolor on white paper, 34.4 x 24.5 cm; Venice, Gallerie dellAccademia)

Italia Nostra:
Italia Nostra: "The loan of the Vitruvian Man to the Louvre is illegitimate: by law it could not leave Italy"

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