CAFA Art Museum presents “Leonardo and His Outstanding Circle” in Beijing

TEXT:CAFA Art Museum and Sue Wang    PICTURES: Hu Sichen    DATE: 2019.9.24

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This year marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci. As a worldwide cultural symbol, all major art galleries and museums around the world will hold various commemorative exhibitions and special exhibitions related to Leonardo da Vinci’s art. The exhibition held at the Art Museum of Central Academy of Fine Arts started with an unique perspective of Leonardo da Vinci featuring Leonardo and His Outstanding Circle as a group of artists that open up the understanding of the Italian Renaissance painting scene. It provides a window for visitors to understand the influence of Leonardo da Vinci’s art in those days and the formation of the circle. The exhibition is both academic and universal, and it is endorsed by the National Committee for the Celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Leonardo da Vinci and it became a part of this year’s global commemorative events on Leonardo da Vinci.

For many Chinese audiences, the Leonardeschi is relatively new to the image of Leonardo da Vinci as a teacher. Introducing one of the current hotspots of Leonardo da Vinci’s research in Western art history to China, while promoting the further expansion of Chinese scholars’ research on the history of Western Renaissance art and participation in the ongoing discussions on this topic which was the original intention of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in presenting the exhibition. At the same time, as an art museum affiliated to the Central Academy of Fine Arts, CAFA Art Museum presents an exhibition centered on art teaching and the relationship of inheritance during the Renaissance with the master Leonardo da Vinci, which also has a special significance.

The exhibition features a total of 30 paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and his outstanding circle, mainly showcasing paintings by students educated directly by Leonardo da Vinci and followers of indirect learning from Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings, including representatives such as Giampietrino, Oggiono, Salai and Luini.

Leonardeschi is an important term and phenomenon in the history of Western art. There are only a handful of world-renowned works by Leonardo da Vinci, as many of his original works have been lost. Through the artists of the Leonardeschi, we have more opportunities to learn about masterpieces. In addition, in Europe more than 500 years ago, it was due to the artists of Leonardeschi, through their follow-up and re-creation of masterpieces, Leonardo da Vinci’s artistic innovation and unique style have gained wider acceptance and been established, and this has far-reaching implications. Although the attribution of some of the exhibits is still up for academic discussion, through these works, through the study on Leonardo da Vinci and his circle, Leonardo da Vinci himself will become more three-dimensional and well-rounded, and we will get more insight into the artistic ecology of Leonardo da Vinci’s era, including art collection, art market, education and communication, and it will also provide an insight into Leonardo da Vinci’s art studio and society, religion, economy as well as the intrinsic relationship among art developments.

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Italian Republic. This exhibition project can be said to be at the right time. After the exhibition was displayed from February 9 to May 12, 2019 in Plazzo Cavour, Torino, Italy, and from May 31 to August 25, 2019 at Venezia Plazzo Giustinian Lolin, the Fondazione Ugo E Olga Levi, the exhibition was brought to the Art Museum of Central Academy of Fine Arts. Zhang Zikang, Director of CAFA Art Museum stated that: Leonardo da Vinci’s works collected in museums around the world are mostly circulated and documented. But in the course of history, there are also many works known as by Leonardo da Vinci that emerge continuously throughout the world. The life of the characters in the history of art and authenticity of the works are always clarified along with academic research and even academic controversy. Today, Chinese experts and scholars are also eligible to participate in discussions. This exhibition shows the audience the artistic characteristics of Leonardo da Vinci and his school from an open perspective, so as understand the phenomenon of “Leonardo da Vinci’s style” in history, and provide opportunities for multi-layers of evaluation and research in front of entities of works.

As Ettore Francesco SEQUI, the Italian Ambassador to China, addressed for the exhibition:“…for Leonardo da Vinci’s stay in Milan, a whole generation of Renaissance artists went to his ‘studio’ and worshipped him as a tutor, which greatly enriched the production of oil paintings during those years. The inheritance of these paintings is of vital importance. These works belong still mostly to private collections all over the world, and are less open to the public and experts. In response to the above situation, Italy and China decided to organize this ‘Leonardo da Vinci and His Outstanding Circle’.” This exhibition was strongly supported by VENEZIA 2000 FOUNDATION and Associazione Culturale no profit Sicilia Musei. CAFA Art Museum also thanked Embassy of Italy–Beijing, Italian Cultural Institute–Beijing, thanks to the support of Beijing Wisdom Art & Culture Co., Ltd., Fondazione Ugo ed Olga Levi-Venice. The exhibition project was successfully launched and the elements of music were added to the visual exhibition. During the exhibition, CAFA Art Museum will hold a number of academic lectures, Renaissance-Ming Dynasty concerts and other public education activities, which will lead to more open academic discussions and research. Academic materials such as the circulation, exhibition, publication and research articles of the exhibition will be gradually announced during the exhibition period for the general public and professionals as a reference for academic research.

Courtesy of CAFA Art Museum, edited and translated by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

Photo by Hu Sichen/CAFA ART INFO

About the exhibition

Exhibition duration: September 12, 2019 to December 8, 2019

Exhibition venue: Gallery 2A, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing

Art Director: Zhang Zikang

Curator: Nicola Barbatelli

Hosted by CAFA Art Museum, VENEZIA 2000 FOUNDATION, Associazione Culturale no profit Sicilia Musei

Co-organized by Embassy of Italy–Beijing, Italian Cultural Institute–Beijing

Supported by Beijing Wisdom Art & Culture Co., Ltd., Fondazione Ugo ed Olga Levi-Venice