Donnerstag, 13.12.2018 11:28 Uhr

Leonardo's The Head of a Woman in Naples

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Naples, 20.08.2018, 13:20 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: Dr. Carlo Marino Bericht 4670x gelesen

Naples [ENA] The famous painting by Leonardo, The Head of a Woman, also known as La Scapigliata (disheveled woman), is an Oil on wood whose dimensions are 24.7 cm × 21 cm (9.7 in × 8.3 in) and is on diplay in Naples at Gallerie d’Italia – Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano until the 2nd of September. The painting is known since 1627 and it was mentioned for the first time in the House of Gonzaga collection in 1627: "a painting depicts

the head of a disheveled woman ... by Leonardo da Vinci". Its date is still uncertain and it is object of study, as well as its real nature (unfinished painting, sketch, or preparatory study?), its origin and its intention. After more than thirty years from the great exhibition Leonardo and Leonardo's leonardism in Naples and Rome held at the Museo di Capodimonte, the return of the painting in the city of Naples will allow to resume the themes addressed in that circumstance, updating them with the most recent critical interventions. Next to the Scapiliata by Leonardo da Vinci there’s the exhibition of a digital reproduction of Salomè with the head of the Baptist by Bernardino Luini.

The original work, dated about 1525 and preserved in the Uffizi since 1793, is of extraordinary historical importance: the striking resemblance between Leonardo's Head of Woman and the female protagonist of the oil painting on the table by the Lombard painter helps to place the Leonardo's prototype at least until 1530, emphasizing the strong influence that the Tuscan master had on the youngest artists who had trained in his workshop. Leonardo da Vinci was very fascinated by the theme of the female heads with their hair moved by the wind, as evidenced by a famous passage of his Treatise on Painting.

The first certain news concerning this masterpiece dates back to 1826, when Francesco Callani proposed to the Academy of Fine Arts in Parma the sale of the paintings inherited from his father, Gaetano Callani (1736-1809), a neoclassical celebrated painter and sculptor. The sale of the Callani collection took place in 1839, "the head of Leonardo d'Avinci" entered the Palatine Gallery of Parma (now the National Gallery) and was considered the master's autograph throughout the nineteenth century. But, in 1896, by drafting the Catalog of the Royal Gallery of Parma, Corrado Ricci not only didn’t accept the attribution to Leonardo da Vinci but openly declared that it was a fake, assuming that the forger was Gaetano Callani himself.

It was Adolfo Venturi, between 1924 and 1925, to strongly claim the Leonardo’s paternity of the Scapiliata, putting it in direct relation with the studies concerning Leda preserved in the Castello Sforzesco of Milan and Windsor Castle and with the cardboard of Sant'Anna Metterza di London. Adolfo Venturi was convinced of his attribution to Leonardo and tried to find historical evidence of his statement. The scholar related the table of Parma with a work quoted in 1531 by Ippolito Calandra, secretary of the Gonzaga family in Mantua, who mentioned a "Leonardo da Vinci" painting as a wedding gift from Count Nicola Maffei to the just marrieds Federico II Gonzaga and Margherita Paleologa.

In the inventory of the Gonzaga collections, commissioned by Vincenzo II Gonzaga between 1626 and 1627, "A painting represents a head of a woman who is disheveled... work by Lonardo d'Avinci, valued 180 liras" is quoted. This annotation is important because it describes with great accuracy a work that corresponds to the Head of Parma, ascribing it to Leonardo and because the estimate of the painting is very high. Moreover, in the wording of the Inventory Gonzaga appears, for the first time, the term "Scapiliata" which is still used today to define the table of Parma.And after Venturi's favorable position, the majority of Leonardo's (but not all) scholars have supported the Leonardo’s autograph of the table.

Direct comparisons between this work and the master's chefs-d'oeuvre convinced the scholars that the execution of the Scapiliata di Parma can be placed between 1504 and 1508. There is also the hypothesis that this oil on wood is not linked to a profane subject like the "Leda", but rather to a sacred subject, or a "Blessed Virgin Mary", as already the archival papers of 1826 had explicitly indicated. There are also those who maintain that Leonardo has deliberately left this painting unfinished.

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