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« Boston MFA | Main | Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Boston. »



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Ben Sweeney

Hi David... The attribution to Leonardo is far from done... The positives are we have a contemporary copy of Isabella based on Leonardo's famous sketch.. From my own research I knew she had an unusual right from that Cartoon but it hard to tell since most assume there was damage or pentimenti involved... This painting shows clearly her unusual right hand.. Just as the large contemporary copy of the Last Supper done by Giampietrino shows Christ with a syndactyly Left hand confirming that Leonardo depicted Christ with a syndactyly hand (webbed)in the original.. The swamp will be cleaned as Leonardo planned for the Pontine swamps in Ostia... best ben

David Packwood

Ok Ben. I'll await developments. By the way there were actually 4 discoveries last week. I forgot the David portrait of Napoleon!

Graeme Cameron

Incisively observed as usual David. It's been quite a while since my last communication but congratulations on your kindred Blog, which provides some interesting insights into the backgrounds of those venerable institutions.

As to your note above, might I respectfully suggest it is actually both situations, a "crisis in connoisseurship" resulting in "numerous misattributions". Perhaps the most concerning consequence of this double duo, from an Art Historical perspective, is that they tend to confuse and preempt the field, so when important discoveries are actually made, they become adversely affected by the plethera of earlier misattributions, to the detriment of both the master artists whose genuine works are not recognised/acknowledged, and thus to posterity.

With kind regards,


David Packwood

Hi Graeme,

Good to hear from you.

Yes, its a good point. Significant discoveries suffer because of the connoisseurship/ attribution crisis. Not really an incisive post, more a subjective response to being overwhelmed by this deluge.

As for the "Leonardo" I gather Kemp is demanding a retraction from the journalist who said Kemp agreed with the attribution. He doesn't but that doesn't make for a good story.

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Ben Sweeney

David.. Since this news story, i have been reviewing all my notes related to Isabella... There are a few versions of the Louvre Isabella... that show both hands and a book. The painting and Louvre drawing show one. The original sketch was cut-down at some point... that's the paintings problem. It is based on the sketch when cut down not as Leonardo originally drew.... why would Leonardo paint this w/o other hand and a book that he portrayed .... Back to my original point... copies help tell us what original Leonardo's looked like... In the case Isabella D'este had an unusual right hand.. best ben


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