A Fantastic Summer at the Art Museum: ‘Guarding Leonardo da Vinci’

Yes, it’s April 15th, which means your Federal income taxes are due today. On a much more positive note, it’s also the birthday of celebrated Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, who lived from 1452-1519. I’m always excited about Leonardo because I studied Art History as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, situated within a day’s drive of our nation’s capital: Washington, D.C. The close proximity is quite nice, as it affords me with the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art on a regular basis. The NGA is the only museum on the Western Hemisphere that houses a Leonardo painting.

Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de' Benci, c. 1474/1478. Oil on Panel. National Gallery of Art, Washinton, D.C. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de’ Benci, c. 1474/1478. Oil on Panel. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Photo by Pat Cuadros.

The Ginevra de’ Benci, executed in oils during the 1470s, is a rather masterful portrait that still continues to marvel visitors today. It was purchased in 1967 with funds from Alisa Mellon Bruce. I sat down recently for an interview with my co-worker, Toni Engel-Gonchoroff, to explore the impact that Leonardo da Vinci’s work has had on her life. She worked as a museum guard at the NGA, keeping a close eye on the Ginevra during the summer of ’68.

Check out the interview below or via Youtube. I’ve also included a montage of my own artistic endeavors. As an aside, this video was my first foray into the realm of film editing programs such as iMovie and Adobe Premiere Pro. In spite of the challenges, it was quite exciting to pull this project together!

As I mention in the video, “Leonardo da Vinci and the Idea of Beauty” runs from today (April 15th) through June 14, 2015 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. The same exhibition concluded last week in at the Muscarelle Museum of Art in Williamsburg, Va, as well as the Leicester Codex viewing at the Phoenix Art Museum. The Ginevra de’ Benci is part of the permanent collection at the NGA, so there’s no need to hit both Boston and D.C. on the same vacation if you’re on a tight schedule. Finally, this year marked the limited release of  “Inside the Mind of Leonardo,” with Peter Capaldi (“Doctor Who”) as the Renaissance artist. What will 2016 bring for us to enjoy from Leonardo da Vinci?

Thank you again to Toni for agreeing to share her story.


Update on 5/3/2015: I made edits to the interview after I received a response to one of the pending photo requests.

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