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Lady with an Ermine, Leonardo's Masterpiece in Krakow

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Lady with an Ermine painted by Leonardo da Vinci

See the big picture (67k)


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Leonardo da Vinci's Masterpiece 

Krakow is one of just six places in the world that can boast a painting by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), the old masters’ old master. And there are known only three his female portraits of which Krakow’s Lady with an Ermine is arguably the most beautiful. It’s also in the best shape after the 500-plus years that elapsed. Leonardo’s masterpiece in The Czartoryskich Museum at 19 Sw. Jana street depicts a delightful teenage beauty, most probably Cecilia Gallerani who was the mistress of Milan’s ruler Lodovico Sforza il Moro, the artist’s patron. Most likely Leonardo da Vinci painted her in his early thirties, between 1482 and 1485 – i.e. some 20 years before the Paris' Louvre’s famed Mona Lisa – and for the first time he showed the sitter in the way that would soon become the standard. Art historians maintain it’s the world’s first modern-age portrait ever painted. 

That stunning picture is 40.3 cm wide and 54.8 cm high, oil on walnut board. Unfortunately, the original background has been overlaid probably in the 17th c. 

The portrait of the Lady with an Ermine was bought by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski in Italy and incorporated into The Czartoryskis’ family collections in 1800. 

Note: Due to the renovation of the Princes Czartoryski Museum in the years 2010-2014 the masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci, Lady with an Ermine, is temporarily exhibited at the Wawel's Krakow Royal Castle. The picture has been placed in an upstairs room of the castle's western wing. It can bee seen separately for ten zloty or as the last part of the tour of the State Rooms (Royal chambers). Anyway, only 20 visitors are allowed in at a time. High-season opening hours, April 1st to October 31st, are from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. In the low season, i.e. November through March, it's 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends. Closed on Mondays and January 1st, Easter Sunday, November 1, November 11, December 25, and December 26.    

 

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The Princes Czartoryski Museum in Krakow


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