To mark Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary, Musée du Louvre has introduced the distinctive mortgage of Saint John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci, a famend masterpiece by the Renaissance icon. The portray will likely be offered within the everlasting galleries of the UAE museum from November 8, 2022, for a interval of two years.
Probably the most well-known work within the Louvre, Saint John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci represents the utmost peak of the Tuscan grasp’s genius, together with all the Renaissance motion. The thriller and charm emanating from the determine of Saint John, in addition to the skillful chiaroscuro portray method, by no means stopped fascinating hundreds of thousands of annual guests inside the world’s most-visited museum.
Left unfinished on the loss of life of the artist, Saint John the Baptist as soon as belonged to very prestigious homeowners, together with King Charles I of England, adopted by France’s King Louis XIV, earlier than becoming a member of the Musée du Louvre, after its opening in 1793.
Leonardo da Vinci, Saint John the Baptist. Round 1508-1519.
Oil on wooden (walnut). 73 x 56.5cm.
Paris, Musée du Louvre, INV. 775
© 2016 Louvre RMN-GP / Tony Querrec
Leonardo da Vinci’s genius and experimental work
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), one of many world’s most well-known artists, whose very identify is related to creative genius, really painted little or no. After La Belle Ferronnière, loaned by the Louvre in 2017, the presence of a second da Vinci at Louvre Abu Dhabi is an extremely important incidence. Offered in wing 3 at Louvre Abu Dhabi dedicated to trendy occasions (fifteenth – 18th centuries), the oil-on-wood portray embodies the nice genius of the Renaissance.
Within the early a part of the sixteenth century in Florence, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci started to color this picture of John the Baptist, the patron saint of the town. It’s not recognized whether or not the work was commissioned or whether or not the artist himself selected this topic. For greater than 10 years, the grasp by no means ceased to good the smallest particulars of the composition, that includes symbolic and experimental components, in addition to virtuoso method, which made the portray a real creative expertise.
Saint John the Baptist was saved in possession of da Vinci, who introduced it with him when settling in France in 1516 on the invitation of King Francis I (1494 – 1547). When Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519, the portray was nonetheless partly unfinished – together with the best arm and the fur protecting the physique. Acquired by the French sovereign, the portray handed into the gathering of King Charles I of England (1600 – 1649) in roughly 1630 earlier than getting into the gathering of Louis XIV in 1662. The work then remained within the French royal assortment till it entered the Louvre through the French Revolution.
Saint John the Baptist was restored in 2016 by the Louvre Work Division. The detailed course of made it potential to skinny the thickened layers of yellowed and oxidised varnish that had been utilized after the artist’s loss of life, which had been detrimental to the color palette and hid the type of Saint John. The determine of the saint would then regain a structural reduction, highlighting the sinuous, twisting motion and a extra delicate facial features.
Masterful use of shadow and light-weight
The non secular depth of the portray lies within the masterful interaction of chiaroscuro method and within the softness of the modelling. This was accomplished by superimposing very skinny layers of glaze, made up of oil barely charged with pigments. This impact, wherein Leonardo da Vinci excelled, is known as sfumato. It makes contours seem vaporous and animates the determine. The painter used few colors – an nearly summary black background and heat brown tones – a frugal method that magnifies the radiant expression of the face, the place the smile of the preacher triumphs.
Representing a super kind of magnificence, that includes a delicate smile, Saint John the Baptist is harking back to different works by the grasp, resembling Saint Anne or The Mona Lisa (Musée du Louvre). The twist of the physique, which emerges from the darkness, as if captured within the second, evokes the fragile flame of a candle within the evening.
John was a up to date of Jesus of Nazareth and lived a humble life within the desert. He turned the preacher who introduced the approaching of the Messiah. He practiced baptism within the waters of the Jordan River, therefore his nickname John the Baptist. The preacher is a significant determine in Christianity but additionally one of many prophets of Islam. Subsequently, Saint John the Baptist turned the patron saint of the town of Florence in Italy and was a topic usually depicted through the Renaissance, an period famend for its good creative creations.
Leonardo da Vinci selected to characterize John as a younger man, sporting ample, curly hair, wearing a easy animal pores and skin, holding a stick representing a cross. The saint emerges from the darkness, along with his face lit as much as reveal a gentle and reassuring smile. He factors upwards to the sky along with his index finger, inviting the viewer to show to God, whereas the assured smile provides assurance of the soul’s salvation.
For Laurence des Vehicles, President and Director of Musée du Louvre, “Louvre Abu Dhabi is a singular achievement and an incredible success within the museum world. This museum, the results of an unprecedented collaboration between the United Arab Emirates and France, has gained the hearts and minds of an ever-growing public for 5 years. The celebration of this anniversary is a superb alternative for the Louvre to reiterate its delight in working alongside our companions and thus projecting ourselves into the following decade. I’m delighted to see the arrival at Louvre Abu Dhabi of Saint John the Baptist, a marvellous masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci, which fascinates museum guests with its depth and soothing magnificence. We couldn’t think about a finer ambassador of our values.”
His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Louvre Abu Dhabi, mentioned: « The arrival of this famend masterpiece from Musée du Louvre demonstrates the distinctive and profound nature of our long-term collaboration. Guests to Louvre Abu Dhabi have an unmissable alternative to have interaction with a powerful art work that captures a rare second in historical past and now represents a monumental chapter in our personal grand story. As we have fun Louvre Abu Dhabi’s five-year anniversary subsequent month, we should additionally mirror on how this iconic museum is on the forefront of an unfolding imaginative and prescient for Saadiyat Cultural District – selling worldwide connections by the common language of historical past, tradition and the humanities.»
The presentation of Saint John the Baptist at Louvre Abu Dhabi is a part of a collection of 4 main loans made by the Musée du Louvre, following the intergovernmental settlement extension, signed on December 3, 2021, between Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, then French Minister of Tradition, and H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.