Sunday, May 19, 2013

On Seeing the Lady with an Ermine

A Brief History of the Painting
After Gallerani died in 1536, the portrait disappeared for several centuries before it resurfaced in Poland in 1800. From then on it shared the country’s turbulent history. Poland had been partitioned by Austria, Prussia, and Russia in the late 18th century; the 19th century was marked by unrest. The 1830 uprising against Russia forced Princess Izabela Czartoryska to evacuate her collection from Puławy, just ahead of approaching Tsarist troops. The collection found refuge in the Hôtel Lambert, the Czartoryski residence-in-exile on the Île St. Louis in Paris. The turmoil of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and the Paris Commune (1871), conversely, convinced her grandson, Prince Władyslaw Czartoryski to bring the collection back to Poland. The "Lady with an Ermine" was installed in the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow, which opened in 1876.

During World War I, the painting was evacuated to Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie for safe-keeping; it returned to Krakow in 1920. Confiscated by the Nazis at the beginning of World War II, along with other important paintings from the collection it was earmarked for Adolf Hitler’s planned museum in Linz. It wound up, however, in the hands of Hans Frank, governor general of occupied Poland who had taken up residence in the Wawel Castle, and returned to Krakow once more to adorn his apartment. At the end of the war the Leonardo was sent to Germany; recovered in 1945 it was returned to Poland. Political changes in Poland saw the incorporation of the Czartoryski Museum into the National Museum in Krakow. In 1991, the Princes Czartoryski Foundation was established and recognized as owner of the entire collection including the Leonardo. However, the collection has remained on deposit in the National Museum in Krakow.

During this period the painting has been carefully examined by conservators. In-depth technical studies have made it possible to confirm the authenticity of the work and to assess the picture’s physical condition. Despite the 19th-century overpainting of the background, the Lady with an Ermine is one of Leonardo’s best preserved pictures and most of the main elements exhibit no subsequent restoration.

So... My experience? Before entering the exhibition room, there was all this security measures - metal detector, guards, scanner and what nots. And in I went. It was a relatively small room with no windows. There were 2 other person in the room - a security guard and a lady, presumably one of the staff of the museum. The walls were painted in grey. LED lights were hung from the ceiling. There wall where the painting was hung, was protected with laser beams. And there it was, the painting. The lady. On the center of the wall. It was magnificent. In a way. At least with all the security measures and what nots. And you stand only about 1 meter away from the painting, rather than 40 feet away, like that of Mona Lisa in the Lourve (from what I was told). The colours were so vibrant still. And the expression on the face of the lady was so surreal...

But after about 5 minutes, I finished my tour of the room.

I've made up my mind I won't go to the see any other painting where you have to pay a separate entrance in the future. LMAO.

1 Jujus:

Small Kucing said...

a lot work of art and painting was destroyed during the war. such waste. Glad this one survived