Lucan portrait of Leonardo da Vinci to be shown at Zbiroh Chateau

Photo: CTK

With its rich history and impressive neo-Renaissance architecture Zbiroh Chateau is a big attraction in its own right. In the course of the next two months it will moreover boast a rare exhibit – the Lucan portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, an alleged self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, which has never before been shown outside Italy.

Nicola Barbatelli,  Jaroslav Pácha,  photo: CTK
The oil portrait, which some experts believe to have been painted by the great artist, was discovered three years ago by art historian and gallery owner Nicola Barbatelli in southern Italy, in the private collection of an old aristocratic family. The estimated age of the portrait is about 500 years and its owners originally thought it to be a portrait of Galileo. If da Vinci’s authorship is ever confirmed beyond doubt it would be only the second known self-portrait by da Vinci, the other being a red chalk drawing at the Biblioteca Reale in Turin.

Da Vinci or not, the portrait is of immense value and was accompanied to Prague by the owner of the gallery which leant it (Museo delle Antiche Genti di Lucania) the said Nicola Barbatelli, and for security reasons travelled in the cockpit of the plane. At Prague’s Ruzyne Airport is was awaited by members of a rapid deployment squad and transported to Zbiroh Chateau located in the Brdy Forests in Western Bohemia.

Zbiroh chateau,  photo: CzechTourism
The chateau’s owner Jaroslav Pacha says the efforts to obtain the painting for a short exclusive exhibition took over 18 months and he’s extremely proud to be able to exhibit the masterpiece whether or not it is a true da Vinci.

“When I signed the contract on the loan –both with the gallery in question and the Ministry of Culture – the description of the work said “attributo Leonardo da Vinci” – meaning ascribed to Leonardo da Vinci. The painting is of immeasurable value and the security measures surrounding it are unprecedented. At this point we are keeping the security details under wraps.”

Photo: CTK
The oil painting is expected to attract thousands of visitors from both at home and abroad, among them dozens of art historians who remain divided over whether this is an authentic da Vinci. Art historian Milena Bartlova will head out firmly convinced she will not come face to face with the work of the great master.

“From what I have been able to read about this painting and from some of the reproductions I have studied this painting has nothing, but absolutely nothing to do with Leonardo da Vinci.”

For those who want to judge for themselves or simply admire the precious work of art the exhibition at Zbiroh runs from January 13th to March 18th.