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Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Vitruvian Man’ cleared to go to the Louvre

An Italian court has rejected a request by a culture and heritage group to block the loan of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man,” one of the world’s most famous artworks, to the Louvre museum in Paris.

The loan was put on hold last week, after the Italia Nostra group had argued that the sketch was too fragile to be transported to France, where a major exhibition about Leonardo will open on October 24, in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death.

The group launched an appeal with a court in Veneto, home region to the city of Venice and its Gallerie dell’Accademia, the institution that owns the drawing. That appeal was rejected on Wednesday.

“Vitruvian Man” is rarely displayed because light exposure can damage the 500-year-old paper sketch. As a result, it is exhibited only every few years. The last time it was visible to the public was last summer, when a Leonardo show centered around it was launched at Gallerie dell’Accademia.

In the court decision, the judges state that “Italia Nostra’s appeal does not offer sufficient elements to support it,” they highlight the “exceptional world importance” of the Louvre show and say that lending the work would benefit the image of Gallerie dell’Accademia, as well as facilitate further exchanges of works that were laid out for next year’s 500 anniversary of the death of Raphael, another major Renaissance artist.

Aware of the delicate condition of the sketch, the judges further state that the maximum amount of light that it should be subject to during the Louvre show is 25 lux — roughly as much as a bicycle light — and that it should be then stored in the dark for a longer period, to offset the amount of light received during two exhibitions in the same year.

Dario Franceschini, Italian Minister for Cultural Affairs, welcomed the decision in a tweet, stating: “Now a great cultural operation can start between Italy and France on the two exhibitions about Leonardo in France and Raphael in Rome.”

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