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"Lady with an Ermine" will be examined by the modern laboratory LANBOZ

15.05.2017 History&Culture, Interesting facts
Kraków, 17.12.2016. Obraz "Dama z Gronostajem Leonadra da Vinci ze zbiorów Fundacji XX. Czartoryskich w Krakowie eksponowana na Wawelu na czas remontu muzeum Czartorskich.  (sr/mgut) PAP/Stanisław Rozpędzik

Photo: PAP/Stanisław Rozpędzik

"Lady with an Ermine" by Leonardo da Vinci will soon be examined by the Laboratory of Analysis and Nondestructive Investigation of Heritage Objects in Kraków. Since 2004, the laboratory has been analysing art objects, their state of preservation, and identifying the best protection strategies.

The famous work of the Renaissance painter will undergo examination before May 19, when it is scheduled to be displayed in the main building of the National Museum in Kraków (it will be moved from the Wawel Royal Castle, where it will remain until May 7). Visitors will be able to see it free of charge until June 23rd. After that date, visitors will have to pay admission fees. Ultimately, the painting will be displayed in the Czartoryski Museum (the facility is under renovation, it is possible that its renovation will be completed in 2.5 years).


According to information provided by the National Museum in Kraków, before the works of special artistic value are displayed on the National Museum exhibitions, they are analysed by LANBOZA specialists to confirm that the masterpieces can be displayed without any issues.


LANBOZ conducts non-invasive tests (often with spectroscopic methods, i.e. using different wavelengths of electromagnetic waves), evaluates the state of preservation of materials, their sensitivity to light, determines the climatic conditions in which the work can be presented and stored.


The famous painting of an Italian artist is one of the objects belonging to the collection of the Czartoryski Foundation - the entire collection was purchased in December by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage for 100 million euros. At present, LANBOZ is also investigating another work from the Czartoryski collection - "Adoration of the Child with the young St John the Baptist" (dated 1500-1520) by an unknown author.


"Lady with an Ermine" was examined by LANBOZ a few years ago. "We performed technological research, evaluated the state of the work's preservation, which allowed us to determine the conditions in which it must be stored" - told PAP head of LANBOZ Julio M del Hoyo-Melendez.


According to reports from about six years ago, the state of the work was stable but historically weakened. There were minor wood defects. Due to the risk of further damage, experts recommended limiting the transport of the work to a minimum. Studies have also shown that the work's weight is 650 g.


In the future, after the subsequent expositions of a precious portrait, LANBOZ wants to continue studies of the painting to see if there have been any changes in the structure of the material, such as cracks. "+Lady with an Ermine+ is one of the most interesting paintings in Poland and we want to continue to monitor the condition of this masterpiece. We must be sure that the condition of the painting does not deteriorate" - noted del Hoyo-Melendez.


"Lady with an Ermine" is the most valuable painting in the Polish collection, the only one by Leonardo da Vinci. It was painted ca. 1490, its dimensions are 53.4 by 39.3 cm. It was painted on a walnut panel. It depicts Cecilia Gallerani, the young lady of the Milanese court, the mistress of Duke Ludovico Sforza. The painting was purchased by Duke Adam Jerzy Czartoryski around 1800.


Between October 2009 and February 2012 the painting was shown outside Kraków: in Budapest, Warsaw, Madrid, Berlin and London. Its travels were a source of controversy. On 20 April 2011, a memorandum was signed according to which after its return to Poland in spring 2012, the work would not be loaned for at least 10 years, unless otherwise agreed by all parties to the agreement for reasons justified by special circumstances.


The Laboratory of Analysis and Nondestructive Investigation of Heritage Objects (LANBOZ) operates at the National Museum in Kraków. It was established as the first and best equipped facility of this type in Poland. Annually, it examines about 200 objects - mainly paintings - using non-invasive methods.


The laboratory cooperates with foreign institutions, and has been implementing the National Heritage Research Centre program for two years. As part of this project, it conducts technological research, prepares strategies for the protection of works of art for museum institutions from all over Poland. Important projects of LANBOZ include the one associated with "Sir Thaddeus" by Adam Mickiewicz - specialists from the Kraków laboratory have developed a strategy to protect the manuscript of the epic poem.


In 2017 LANBOZ received 300 thousand zlotys funding from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and accepted 28 project proposals from 13 institutions. This year's most valuable objects will probably include the piano played by Fryderyk Chopin (submitted to LANBOZ by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute).


The Kraków laboratory employs 12 specialists, including chemists, physicists and conservators. "The people make this place special. It is thanks to our team that the research in the laboratory is diverse, we can analyse objects from various angles" - noted physicist from LANBOZA Agata Mendys.


Beata Kołodziej (PAP)


bko/ ksk/ kap/


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