The President of Poland, Bronislaw Komorowski, opened an art exhibition celebrating Polish treasures on 1st June 2011.
The exhibition has been prepared by the National Museum in Krakow and is present in the Palacio Real de Madrid. The highlight of the exhibition is Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece “Lady with an Ermine”, which has been in the Czartoryska Polish royal family for over 200 years.
The painting is a portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, the 15-year-old mistress of the Duke of Sforza. Leonardo da Vinci met Gallerani in Milan in 1494 while both were living in the Castello Sforzesco, the palace of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan – also known as “Il Moro”. Gallerani was the young and beautiful Duke’s mistress. She played music and wrote poetry.
Da Vinci was commissioned to paint Gallerani’s portrait in 1496. He represented her holding an ermine (stoat) either because her name, Galle, means Ermine in Greek or because Ludovico Sforza’s emblem was “L’Ermellino”
When Ludovico Sforza married Isabella D’Este in a celebration orchestrated by da Vinci, the mistress Gallerani had to leave the Palace. However, she took the portrait with her. The Duke also gave her a dowry and a castle outside Milan where she spent the rest of her life with her husband Count Pergamino.
The exhibition will feature the Annunciation of the Virgin by Dirk Bouts lent by the Princes Czartoryski Foundation as well as Our Lady of Klonówka from the Diocesan Museum and the Ana Jagiello binding from the Jagiellonian Library.
The exhibition at the Palacio Real de Madrid reflects the history of Poland from the Middle Ages and runs from 3rd June – 4th September 2011 between the hours of 10:00 and 20:00 local time. Entry is €10.