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Big Feud over Leonardo da Vinci portrait …

November 14, 2011

Doesn’t it feel like newly attributed Old Masters are falling out of the sky lately? Once overlooked works have recently been deemed autograph paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Velázquez.   This year alone two paintings have been attributed to Leonardo da Vinci — a portrait of a young woman and an image of Christ.  The latter is in the new block buster Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery , the former has been excluded (for lack of consensus on authorship), despite the fact that renown Leonardo expert  Martin Kemp has given the painting a thumbs up. According to an article in the Independent:

A National Gallery spokeswoman said yesterday: “La Bella Principessa is not included in the National Gallery exhibition because there is no general agreement that it is by Leonardo.”

etermining the authorship of works of art balances science and aesthetics.  Analysis of the paint and vellum’s chemical composition can help date this work, but connoisseurship is critical.  For more on that and the current controversy, here’s a revealing interview with Kemp aptly titled How to Spot a Lost Leonardo.

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