Leonardo's Self-Portrait Exceptionally on View in Rome

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 06:25
Leonardo da Vinci

If you’re in Rome this summer, don’t miss the rare chance to admire Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic self-portrait, for the first time on display at the Capitoline Museums, starting today.

Normally preserved in the vault of the Royal Library of Turin, and rarely visible to the public, the delicate portrait, thought to be drawn around 1510, when Leonardo was about 60, is the result of an “exceptional loan”, unlikely to be repeated, due to the fragility of the masterpiece and the subsequent difficulty in transporting it. The portrait reached Rome via a Frecciarossa high-speed train using tight security measures with the Carabinieri’s assistance.

Giovanni Saccani, head of the Royal Library, pointed out that it may be at least five years before the portrait goes on display again, and that he is unwilling to loan it again: "Allow it to leave Turin again? Over my dead body."

Simply named “L’Autoritratto” (Self-portrait), the exhibition includes information about Leonardo’s life, the fascinating and at times controversial facts surrounding the artwork and the technique he used, “a sanguigna”, employing natural red stone, which gives the portrait its signature reddish hue.  

The room where the portrait is on view is monitored by a climate box that keeps a stable temperature and humidity; monitors constantly send information to the Royal Library about the artwork's condition.

The exhibition, on view until August 3, 2015, is open every day, from 9:30 am until 7:30 pm, at Palazzo Caffarelli in the Capitoline Museums. Entrance ticket is €5.