Leonardo Da Vinci at the Hermitage Museum with Vladimir Ivanov

Leonardo Da Vinci at the Hermitage Museum with Vladimir Ivanov


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Of the fifteen surviving works by Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, two hang in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. Only the collection at The Louvre in Paris has more examples on display. Known as The Benois Madonna and The Litta Madonna, these two paintings rarely leave the walls of the Hermitage and are mostly unknown outside of Russia. But as is the case with all of Leonardo’s enigmatic masterpieces, these works have stories to tell.

One of Leonardo’s earliest works, The Benois Madonna, came from the collection of the famous Benois family, architects, and artists from St Petersburg. Tsar Nicholas II bought it shortly before the October Revolution for a record-breaking sum. A much more mature work, The Litta Madonna, originally from Palazzo Litta in Milan, was purchased for the dying wife of Tsar Alexander II and soon became the biggest treasure of the Hermitage.

Led by St Petersburg-based art historian Vladimir Ivanov, this interactive seminar focuses on complex issues of the creation of these works, their artistic features, symbolism, and lengthy history of attribution. We will also discuss how paintings of Leonardo and his circle came to Russia and how they survived during the turbulent twentieth century. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with increased knowledge of two masterpieces from the Hermitage collection.

Holding an MA in Classics, Vladimir is an author of a book called “Inspired by outer space: images of the future in late Soviet architecture” and a key contributor to TASCHEN's edition "CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed". Vladimir has written articles on contemporary art for local media, done podcasts on photography and the Russian revolution. He has also curated a number of exhibitions, including "The Cradle of the Faith: Christian Presence in the Middle East" in New Michael Palace and "Lingua Sacra" in the Imperial Public Library. Currently, he is doing architectural walks in St Petersburg and shares his vast knowledge of arts through the tours of the Hermitage and Russian museums.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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