Leonardo da Vinci and Florence. Selected sheets from the Codex Atlanticus

Florence – On the five hundredth anniversary of his death, the whole world celebrates Leonardo da Vinci. And Florence, his city, does so by remembering the bond that Leonardo has always had with her, hosting in Palazzo Vecchio, then as now his most representative place, the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci and Florence. Sheets chosen from the Codex Atlanticus, which presents, from 29 March to 24 June 2019, twelve papers from the venerable Biblioteca Ambrosiana. In a path curated by Cristina Acidini, the exhibition aims to find in the sheets of the Code the many references to the place of origin of Leonardo, never really left and never forgotten.

Leonardo and Florence, then. Not only Leonardo in Florence, but also Florence with Leonardo, always present in his mind, wherever he was, both in the network of protections, knowledge and friendships that accompanied him throughout his life, both in the correspondence that he has always kept, both in the baggage that he carried to the end, experiences and memories. The twelve selected sheets, which are not, of course, the only ones in which there are references to Florence, function as threads of Ariadne on the contrary, which direct the visitor into the deep meanders of the Labyrinth, rather than indicating its exit. And as a Labyrinth we must consider the many aspects of the multifaceted and often contradictory relationship between Leonardo and the city, in whose domain he was born and in which he spent the fundamental years of his training.

The exhibition closes with a single painting, in contrast to the works on paper. Coming from the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, the painting is attributed to Gian Giacomo Caprotti, known as Salaino, and depicts the Bust of the Redeemer. In the installation, it introduces a new subject, since it is not a work recognized as Leonardo’s, and it is not attributable to the relationship of the master with his city. However, the painting is still connected, by mysterious but unequivocal means, to the Salaino, of which it bears the signature, or nickname, SALAI, one of the assistants most dear to Leonardo.

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