Who was the last universal genius

"Leonardo belongs to us": Hype and dispute about the universal genius

Rome / Paris - Leonardo da Vinci knew no borders. Neither in art nor in life. He was just as interested in horse's feet as he was in crabs, military equipment, diving suits and mechanical wings. He painted, built and tinkered with ceaselessly. He is therefore called a universal genius. But the Renaissance artist, inventor, musician and philosopher must not be universal for the 500th anniversary of his death on May 2nd.

Our genius!

Italy does not want to let "its genius" be taken away - least of all by France. The boom has been hanging crookedly between the two countries for a long time. French President Emmanuel Maron and the Italian government are quarreling over issues such as migration, Europe and budgetary policy. Just a few days ago, the deputy prime minister and head of the populist five-star movement, Luigi Di Maio, added fuel to the fire. He accused France of still having colonies in Africa and benefiting from the poverty there.

The argument about Leonardo only fits into the picture. He was born in Italy and died in France. He is buried in the chapel of the Loire Castle in Amboise. The magnificent property, where the artist spent the last three years of his life, has now become a museum where you can visit his studio and models of his designs and inventions.

Louvre show in October

One of the highlights of the more than 500 events in France is a large Leonardo show in October in the Louvre in Paris. The museum wants to collect almost all of the master's paintings. According to experts, there should be between 14 and 17 pictures by the Tuscan artist.

To this end, important loans from Italian museums had been agreed with Rome, which Lucia Borgonzoni, State Secretary for Culture of the Italian right-wing party Lega, now wants to renegotiate. Leonardo was Italian, in France he "only died", she told Italian media.

Main plants are to remain in Italy

"I would like to understand why a minister from the Italian Republic decided to give France the name Leonardo," said Borgonzoni. Important works such as the "Vitruvian Man", which is guarded in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Venice, should stay at home.

According to the Louvre, it owns 22 drawings, almost a third of the master’s paintings, including the Mona Lisa. Leonardo sold the world-famous picture to the French King Francis I, for whom he worked for three years.

Paris had negotiated the loan conditions with the previous social democratic government in Italy. In return, France should help out the Scuderie del Quirinale Museum in Rome on the 500th anniversary of Raphael's death in 2020 with loans.

Fall date out of consideration for Italy

According to information from the French daily "Le Monde", the Louvre deliberately moved the exhibition to autumn to allow the Italians to go ahead for the day of death on May 2nd. The director of the museum, Jean-Luc Martinez, has been silent since the beginning of the dispute.

Italy is celebrating the anniversary year with factory exhibitions in Turin, Milan, Florence and in Leonardo's small birthplace Vinci in Tuscany. The Uffizi in Florence gave the go-ahead with a large exhibition on the Codex Leicester. The manuscript is said to be the most expensive manuscript of all time. Bill Gates bought Leonardo's collection of sheets of drawings and scientific writings at auction for $ 30.8 million in 1994.

Culture ministers meeting at the end of February

The Italian Minister of Culture Alberto Bonisoli recently tried to smooth things over and stated that the previous agreement had never entered the concrete phase of implementation. They are now working on finding a solution with France after all. A meeting with the French Minister of Culture is therefore scheduled to take place in Milan on February 28th.

"Battles always start at major exhibitions for an anniversary," said the German director of the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, Cecilie Hollberg. But that shouldn't be overestimated. France's media see it differently. Such an event is decided not only between the directors of the museums, but also between the states. At the moment, however, political relations between Italy and France are worse than they have been in years. (Annette Reuther, Sabine Glaubitz, APA / dpa, January 24, 2019)