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Rome Reports

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Vatican presents its only Leonardo Da Vinci work for 500th anniversary of his death


The Vatican is paying tribute to Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the greatest artists in history. They are celebrating 500 years since his death, with a free exhibition of one of his most important pieces.

Until June 22, pilgrims from all over the world will be able to admire the piece "Saint Jerome in the Desert." It's the first time it will be shown outside the Vatican Museums.

GUIDO CORNINI
Scientific Delegate, Vatican Museums
"Five hundred years have passed since Leonardo Da Vinci's death and next year will be 500 years since Raphael's. So all the museums in the world are working to celebrate these two important dates with dignity. The Vatican is fortunate to have the only Roman work by Leonardo Da Vinci."

The piece, done between 1486 and 1490, shows St. Jerome repenting in the desert. He is dressed as a hermit, about to hit his chest with a rock. Yet, the subject of the work is not as important, as the technique Leonardo used to paint the background.

GUIDO CORNINI
Scientific Delegate, Vatican Museums
"The background of the painting is a sketch. It is unfinished, but shows the first indications of a rocky, chipped landscape. We later learn to recognize it in Leonardo's other works like 'The Virgin of the Rocks,' 'The Virgin and St. Anne' or in the 'Mona Lisa.'"

The exhibition includes interactive panels that explain and allow the visitor to “interact” with the artist. In addition to the canvas, the exhibition displays the only document that proves that Leonardo Da Vinci spent a period of his life in Rome.

GUIDO CORNINI
Scientific Delegate, Vatican Museums
"It proves Leonardo's presence in Rome in 1513. It is a payment he made to Giuliano Reno. He was an architect who helped other artists, like Bramante, on Vatican works. It is the only explicit document that proves the presence of Leonardo in Rome."

The Vatican Museums restored the piece so that it could be exhibited around the world. After its time in Rome, it will be displayed in New York and then in Paris.