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Source: China State Council Information Office 3

Renaissance maestro Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic “Vitruvian Man” drawing will be exhibited at France’s Louvre Museum Thursday for the first time.

An Italian court ruled that the world-famous artwork would be allowed to leave Italy for a special exhibition at the Paris museum to mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death.

The delicate drawing, dating back to around 1490, shows a man in two superimposed positions with his legs and arms apart and inscribed in a circle and square.

The court’s ruling was the latest twist in a back-and-forth battle over the loan of several Leonardo works from Italy to France.

The Accademia Gallery of Venice first agreed to loan the work to the Louvre for exhibition in 2017.

But the previous Italian government, which collapsed in August, refused to loan Leonardo’s most famous works to France, saying the anniversary of Leonardo’s death should be celebrated in Italy, where the Tuscan-born polymath was born and lived most of his life.

The new government, which came into power in September, agreed to loan Leonardo works as a gesture of goodwill.

The plan was later suspended by a court in the northern Italian region of Veneto, following a strong complaint from a cultural heritage advocacy group Italia Nostra alleging the drawing was too fragile to travel.

The court’s ruling was overturned on Oct. 16 by a regional tribunal, called a TAR, who said Italia Nostra’s complaint “does not offer sufficient elements to support it.”

Italy’s Culture Minister Dario Franceschini praised the decision to loan the drawing, saying it would start “a great cultural operation” between Italy and France.

In return for the loans of “Vitruvian Man” and other works, the Louvre next year will send to Rome two paintings by Raphael, another Renaissance master, for an exhibition commemorating the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death.

“The courts were satisfied that sufficient steps would be taken to assure that the ‘Vitruvian Man’ will be protected, both during transport and during the exhibition itself,” Simone Ferrari, an art history professor at the University of Parma, told Xinhua.

Ferrari said the Louvre has the largest collection of Leonardo’s works in the world, which means that during the exhibition the “Vitruvian Man” will be seen in a context that would be impossible in other places.

“This is a rare opportunity. Leonardo Da Vinci was Italian and this work was made in Italy, but the drawing part of the world’s cultural heritage,” Ferrari said.

Mariarita Signorini, president of Italia Nostra, expressed his disapproval, saying the decision did not take the long-term well-being of the drawing into account.

“I am not against museums loaning works to each other, but there are a handful of works that are too fragile and too valuable to be put at risk,” said Signorini.

The Louvre said it is taking measures to assure the safety of the drawing en route from Venice to Paris and vice versa.

The Paris museum said the drawing will be shown with just 25 lux of light (around the same as the light produced by mobile phone screen in low-battery mode) when the exhibit is open and then stored in the dark overnight. 

MIL OSI China News