SHARE
COPY LINK

CULTURE

A missing painting, crowd trouble and an international spat . . . but Da Vinci exhibition is now set to open in Paris

A blockbuster retrospective of Leonardo da Vinci opens on Thursday at the Louvre museum to mark 500 years since the death of the Renaissance master in the historic town of Amboise, France.

A missing painting, crowd trouble and an international spat . . . but Da Vinci exhibition is now set to open in Paris
The Da Vinci exhibition at the Louvre opens on Thursday. All photos: AFP

Nearly 200,000 people have already reserved their place in line for the exhibition, the biggest ever organised to showcase the Tuscan polymath's indelible contributions to humanity – with an emphasis on his painting.

A decade in the planning, the show simply titled “Leonardo da Vinci” groups 162 works, including 24 drawings loaned by Queen Elizabeth II of Britain from the Royal Collection.


Mona Lisa, who attracts 30,000 people a day, will not be moving from her current home for the exhibition

The British Museum, the Hermitage of Saint Petersburg and the Vatican have also contributed, as well as, of course, Italy — after a sometimes acrimonious tug-of-war between Rome and Paris over the loans.

The exhibition in the Hall Napoleon features 11 of the 20 paintings definitively attributed to the Renaissance master, as well as drawings, manuscripts, sculptures and other objets d'art.

The show walks the visitor through the timeline of the master's peripatetic life under the tutelage of dukes, princes and kings, from Florence to Milan, Venice and Rome, and finally France, where he spent the last three years of his life.


Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of the Salvator Mundi

Two notable no-shows – for different reasons

Two works are missing from the show, starting with the Mona Lisa.

Organisers decided the world's most famous painting should remain in the Louvre's Salle des Etats – her normal home – to help avoid overcrowding.

As it is, the masterpiece attracts nearly 30,000 people a day.

The Mona Lisa's ineffable smile will however beguile visitors in a virtual reality experience at the end of the Leonardo show, which runs until February 24th.

The other notable no-show is the Salvator Mundi, the work that became the most expensive painting ever sold when it fetched €400 million at a Christie's auction in 2017.

Mystery now surrounds the painting – whose authenticity is disputed by some experts – as it has not been seen in public ever since the stunning sale.

Officially, it was to be displayed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi but an unveiling set for September 2018 was inexplicably postponed. The Louvre said the museum's request to borrow the work is still pending.

READ ALSO Mystery of Salvator Mundi – the world's most costly painting


After a last-minute legal challenge, Vitruvian Man will now travel from Italy for the show

Late runner: The Vitruvian Man

The final act in the row between Paris and Rome over Italy's contributions to the show came with a last-minute legal effort to halt the loan of the iconic Vitruvian Man drawing.

Last week an Italian court rejected a bid by an association advocating for the protection of Italy's heritage – Italia Nostra (Our Italy) – to halt the loan of the work dating from the late 15th century, arguing that it was too fragile to travel.

A spat over Italy's contributions to the Louvre show erupted late last year when the new populist rulers in Rome took issue with the previous government's agreement with Paris.

Lucia Borgonzoni, the number two in Italy's culture ministry and a member of the anti-immigration League party, argued that the accord was lopsided in favour of France.

At the height of the row, it appeared that Italy would cancel the accord altogether. It was finally resolved with Paris pledging to loan several Raphaels to Rome next year, the quincentenary of that artist's death.

The Vitruvian Man – which Italian media say is insured for at least €1 billion – will join the Louvre show later this month, but only for a few weeks rather than the full four months.

The drawing, kept in a climate-controlled vault in the Accademia Gallery in Venice, is rarely displayed to the public.

The exhibition curated by the Louvre's Vincent Delieuvin and Louis Frank, the heads of the museum's painting and graphic arts departments, includes infrared reflectographs that offer an insight into the master painter's techniques.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

MONEY

Everything you need to know about France’s 2022 summer sales

In France, you can only shop the best deals twice a year - during the soldes. Here is everything you need to know about this year's summer sales.

Everything you need to know about France's 2022 summer sales

They happen twice a year – Each year, France has two soldes periods: one in the winter, usually starting January, and another in the summer, usually starting in June.

This summer, the soldes will start on Wednesday, June 22nd in most parts of France and run for four weeks, so even though you might be tempted to go on the first day, keep in mind they’ll be going on for a while.

They are progressive, so items will be continuously marked down as the soldes wear on. If you wait, you are risking that your favourite t-shirt might sell out quickly, but if you’re lucky it might end up marked down even further.

During 2020 and 2021 the government altered sales dates and time periods to help shops cope with closures and lockdowns, but now we’re back to the usual timetable.

This is the only time stores can have “sales” – Technically, the soldes are the only time that stores are allowed to have sales, but the definition of ‘sale’ is important.

Basically, the French government qualifies a ‘solde‘ as the store selling an item for less than they purchased it for.

During the rest of the year discounting is allowed in certain circumstances, so you might see promotions or vente privée (private sales, usually short-term events aimed at regular customers or loyalty-card holders) throughout the year.

In these situations the stores might be selling items for less than their original price, but they are not permitted to sell the item for less than they bought it for. 

Shops are also permitted to have closing-down sales if they are shutting down, or closing temporarily for refurbishment.

They are strictly regulated by the French government – Everything from how long the soldes go for to the consumer protection rules that apply to the very definition of ‘solde’ is regulated by the French government, and the main purpose of this is to protect small independent businesses which might not be able to offer the same level of discounts as the big chains and multi-national companies.

Whether you shop in person or online, the same rules apply.

As a consumer, you still have the same rights as non-sales times regarding broken or malfunctioning items – meaning you ought to be entitled to a refund if the item has not been expressly indicated as faulty. The French term is vice caché, referring to discovering a defect after purchase.

On top of that, stores must be clear about which items are reduced and which are not – and must display the original price on the label as well as the sale price and percentage discount. 

READ MORE: Your consumer rights for French sales

They started in the 19th century – France’s soldes started in the 19th century, alongside the growth of department stores who had the need to regularly renew their stock – and get rid of leftover items.

Simon Mannoury, who founded the first Parisian department store “Petit Saint-Thomas” in 1830, came up with the idea.

Funnily enough, this department store actually is the ancestor for the famous department store Le Bon Marché. His goal was to sell off the previous season’s unsold stock in order to replace it with new products.

In order to do this, Mannoury offered heavy discounts to sell as much merchandise as possible in a limited time.

The soldes start at different times depending on where you live – The sales start at the same time across most of mainland France, but there are exceptions for overseas France and certain départements, usually those along the border.

France’s finance ministry allows for the sales to start at different times based on local economies and tourist seasons. 

For the summer 2022 sales only two parts of metropolitan France have different dates; Alpes-Maritimes sales run from July 6th to August 2nd, while on the island of Corsica they run from July 13th to August 9th.

In France’s overseas territories the sales are held later in the year.

You might qualify for a tax rebate – If you are resident outside the EU, you might be eligible for a tax rebate on your sales purchases.

If you spend at least €100 in one store, then you qualify. You should hold onto your receipt and tell the cashier you plan to use a tax rebate so they can give you the necessary documentation (a duty-free slip).

Then when you are leaving you can find the kiosk at the station or airport dedicated to tax rebates (détaxe) and file prior to leaving France. For more information read HERE

SHOW COMMENTS