I just saw this story on NPR‘s website about the new Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery in London. I could totally spit-shine the truth and say my appreciation for Italian Renaissance paintings lured me in, but let’s be honest. I just had to Google “Italian Renaissance and da Vinci” to factcheck that sentence. So.
The painting (above) that ran with the story is actually what caught my eye. I know very well of this lady, and her little ermine, too. (Even if I’m still not entirely sure what an ermine is.)
When my sister and I did a summer study abroad in Krakow years ago, one of our fellow students made the observation that in Poland, they seemed very keen on claiming superlatives. True, tour guides in any country are prone to showboating, parading you around to “the first” and “the biggest” national treasures and historical sights. But in Poland, we noticed some superlatives seemed a little subjective, dubious even. (You’re indeed lovely, Kanonicza Street. But “the most beautiful street in all of Europe?” Don’t let the Champs Elysees hear it. Cuz thems is fightin’ words.)
So on one particular tour in Krakow, we learned that the city is just one of six in the world that house a da Vinci painting. And that’s when we were introduced to “The Lady With an Ermine.” Which I do think should be able to lay claim to Most Excellent Painting Title Ever. The umbrella-toting tour leader (aren’t they all?) proceeded to inform us that The Lady is just one of four female portraits painted by da Vinici – and, wait for it… the most beautiful of them all.
And now NPR is telling me Krakow can boast this:
No where is [da Vinci's] calling attention to the hand more striking than in the portrait of Duke Ludovico’s teenage mistress Cecilia Gallerani (“The Lady with an Ermine”).
I love it. Can’t get much more esoteric than that. I need to brainstorm my own superlatives. There’s got to be something I can lay claim to. “Best female Polish-American blogger…on the island of Manhattan…with fewer than 16 letters in her surname.”
Or something. I know, it needs work.