An Italian court has given the go-ahead for Leonardo da Vinci's 'Vitruvian Man' to travel to France for an exhibition, after a push by a heritage group to keep the iconic drawing in Italy.

People look at the "Vitruvian Man" a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, on August 2ç, 2013 in Venice.
People look at the "Vitruvian Man" a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci in Venice ©Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

The ruling gives the green light for the artowrk to travel to the Louvre for an exhibition that starts next week, celebrating the 500th anniversary of da Vinci's death. It will open on 24 October and run until the end of February. In return for the loan of Vitruvian Man, France will lend Italy two Raphael paintings for an exhibition that marks the 500th anniversary of his death next year.

Vitruvian Man - a paper sketch that charts the proportions of a human body - is one of the most famous artworks in the world. Because of its fragility not many people get to see it. It's rarely displayed and spends most of its time locked in a climate-controlled vault at Venice's Gallerie dell'Accademia.

itruvian Man, 1490, by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), pencil and ink on paper, 34x24cm
Vitruvian Man, 1490, by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) ©DeAgostini/Getty Images

In 2017 it was agreed the Vitruvian Man would go on display in France but the loan was put on hold last week after Italia Nostra, a cultural and heritage group, filed a complaint saying the drawing was too fragile to travel. There were also concerns that the delicate sketch risked being damaged by lighting in the room where it will be displayed at the Louvre. The group launched an appeal with an Italian court to keep the artwork in Italy but it was rejected on Wednesday, according to AFP. 

After consulting with experts, it was agreed that these issues would be resolved if special care was taken during transportation, as well as limiting the light in the display room. 

 The da Vinci road: a tour through the life of Leonardo

 crowd of visitors in front of Leonardo DaVinci's Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum.
A crowd of visitors in front of Leonardo DaVinci's Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum ©muratart/Shutterstock

The Louvre's blockbuster da Vinci exhibition has been a decade in the making and the museum is bracing itself for masses of eager art lovers. For the first time ever, reservation will be obligatory for all visitors. Entry is permitted through a timed-ticketing policy for 30-minute intervals to alleviate overcrowding.

Already the museum holds the largest collection of da Vinci paintings in the world (including the Mona Lisa), as well as 22 drawings but it promises even bigger things for the exhibition. Other works being borrowed include the Battle of Anghiari and the Adoration of the Magi from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, as well as loans from private collectors.

Leonardo Da Vinci, the exhibition, will run from 24 October 2019 to 24 February, 2020. Ticketing information can be found on the museum's official website here.

Explore related stories

Young beautiful woman having meal in front ot  Pantheon in Rome

Art and Culture

Italy: a first-timer’s guide

Sep 4, 2023 • 8 min read