Art Market

The presidents of France and Italy will meet to celebrate Leonardo’s legacy amid tensions over loans to the Louvre.

Wallace Ludel
Mar 4, 2019 6:08PM, via DW

Leonardo da Vinci, The Annunciation, c. 1472. Courtesy the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, via Wikimedia Commons.

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a joint French-Italian meeting celebration of Leonardo da Vinci “in the spirit of reconciliation,” as he put it in an interview with RAI, between the two nations; the celebration will mark 500 years since the Renaissance master’s death. Macron will be hosting Italian President Sergio Mattarella in the French town of Amboise, where Leonardo died.

France’s gesture of comraderie comes after a quarrel between Paris and Rome over the Louvre Museum’s plan to host an exhibition that will include nearly all of Leonardo’s paintings, many of which would be on loan from Italian institutions. Italy’s populist government has claimed that the preceding administration “handed over” Leonardo’s legacy to France when it signed the deal allowing these works to be loaned out to the French museum. Last year, an Italian culture minister threatened to refuse the promised loan. Though he died in France, Leonardo was born in the Tuscan town of Vinci and spent the majority of his life in what is now Italy.

News of the Franco-Italian Leonardo summit comes amidst other stressors on the relationship between the two nations, including migration, EU budget policy, and some Italian leaders voicing their support for France’s “yellow vest” movement.

In an interview with RAI quoted by DW, Macron expressed admiration and respect for his Italian neighbors, saying:

There are so many French people who love Italy and Italians who love France and the French. But suddenly, we almost forgot that we have to keep on learning to understand each other. [...]I do not underestimate any of the difficulties of everyday life and the impatience, but I believe that between our countries, there is and always has been a lot of heart, that is to say, friendship, love.
Wallace Ludel