Sunday, June 3, 2012

MWA IV: Leonardo's Ginevra

Back in March, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. announced they were releasing high-resolution digital images of more than 20,000 objects from their collection in an ongoing attempt to make these public domain works more widely available for both commercial and non-commercial purposes using the highest quality museum-produced photography. This is a tremendous coup for educators and the public alike, as the removal of specific fees for publishing and other uses inevitably will draw more people's attentions to the NGA's collection in support of their open access policy. You can read more about their open access policy here. bklynbiblio readers will recall that the Yale Center for British Art previously had done something very similar last year. Other museums will follow, for sure. In celebration of the NGA's move forward, I've selected Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de' Benci, ca. 1474-78, as June's Monthly Work of Art. Rather than give my own thoughts on the beautiful portrait, here's just a small piece of what the curators at the NGA have to say about it: "She was the daughter of a wealthy Florentine banker, and her portrait—the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas—was probably commissioned about the time of her marriage at age 16. Leonardo himself was only about six years older. The portrait is among his earliest experiments with the new medium of oil paint; some wrinkling of the surface shows he was still learning to control it. Still, the careful observation of nature and subtle three–dimensionality of Ginevra's face point unmistakably to the new naturalism with which Leonardo would transform Renaissance painting. Ginevra is modeled with gradually deepening veils of smoky shadow—not by line, not by abrupt transitions of color or light." You can read more about the painting by clicking here. To search and download NGA images for your own use, click here.

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