Leonardo da Vinci’s upcoming blockbuster exhibition at the Louvre may be without one of its star attractions, the iconic drawing Vitruvian Man (ca. 1480–90), due to a legal challenge. An Italian court suspended the drawing’s loan to the Paris museum after an Italian heritage group argued that it was too fragile to be transported, and that it could be damaged by the Louvre’s lighting if displayed for a long time. The Louvre exhibition is scheduled to run for four months.
The Vitruvian Man can only be displayed for short periods of time every six years, and the drawing was already featured in an exhibition at Venice’s Gallerie dell’Accademia earlier this year. The heritage group, Italia Nostra, argued that if further displayed at the Louvre, the drawing might have to be concealed for up to a decade. The group further referenced a law banning the transportation of artworks outside of Italy if they could be damaged in transit or by museum conditions.
“All the technical reports have advised against the transfer of the very fragile design,” Lidia Fersuoch, president of the Venice division of Italia Nostra, said in a statement on Monday.
A hearing on the case is scheduled for October 16th, just eight days before the Louvre exhibition will open on October 24th. At the hearing, Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini will argue against the appeal.
This legal challenge is the latest obstacle for the highly anticipated exhibition, which celebrates the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death. France and Italy recently signed an agreement to exchange paintings by Leonardo and Raphael, putting an end to a two-year feud. According to The Guardian, several of Leonardo’s works are already in transit to France. However, one work some attribute to Leonardo and whose whereabouts remain unknown, Salvator Mundi (ca. 1500), will not be making the trip.