up arrow Will Leonardo Be Safe At The National Gallery?


Remember that lost Leonardo I wrote about? It’s scheduled to appear at the National Gallery this November.  The lost work is part of an exhibition devoted to the 15th Century master, Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan.

Now remember that act of vandalism I wrote about? A French national walked into the National Gallery and spray-painted two works by Nicolas Poussin. The works have since been restored and returned to the gallery. The paintings are fine but confidence is not.

The star of the November exhibition is Leonardo’s Lady with an Ermine, a painting owned by the Krakow-based Czartoryski Foundation. The Foundation was established by Prince Adam Karol Czartoryski specifically to safeguard the da Vinci masterpiece that he inherited in 1991. Two weeks ago, the Prince sensationally fired the entire board of trustees including his first cousin.  Popular opinion holds that he reasserted himself at a time when it felt like the foundation was slipping from his control.

If Czartoryski’s vision was a foundation to safeguard the Lady, then a recent announcement indicates Czartoryski may be once again calling the shots. According to Dziennik Polski – Britain’s only Polish language daily – the Foundation is reconsidering its decision to send the Lady to the National Gallery in wake of the Poussin defacement.  The announcement was made by Olga Jaros, the newly appointed chairwoman, but it was certainly made from the top.

The debate over security at the National Gallery will surely continue….