Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
Leonardo painted the world famous work known as Il Cenacolo, or the ‘Last Supper’, on a wall in the Dominican convent adjoining the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. In executing the ‘Last Supper’, Leonardo used a new technique called a secco, meaning that he painted it on a dry wall. Unfortunately, due to a combination of the artist employing this technique and environmental factors, the work has seen its share of deterioration over the years. These days, in order to keep the room at a suitable temperature, only 25 people at a time are permitted to view it! (So, be sure to book ahead).
Czartoryski Museum, Krakow
This museum was founded in 1796 by Princess Izabela Czartoryski to preserve Polish heritage. Two years after its establishment, Princess Czartoryski’s son traveled to Italy, where he purchased Leonardo’s portrait called ‘Lady with an Ermine’. During that period, the museum was located in Pulawy; it was not until 1878 that it made its move to its present-day location in Krakow. These days, this da Vinci masterpiece can temporarily be seen at the Wawel Royal Castle, while renovations are being carried out at its permanent home just up the road.
Czartoryski Museum, św. Jana 19, Krakow, Poland, +48 12 370 5460
The Louvre, Paris
One of the largest museums in the world, The Louvre is a monument and central landmark in Paris. It is home to a massive collection of artwork, including Leonardo’s iconic ‘Mona Lisa’, the earliest Italian painting to focus intently on the sitter in a half-length portrait. How did such an important work by the Italian Renaissance master end up in France? Rather than giving the portrait to the person who commissioned it, Leonardo likely brought the completed work to France. After the artist’s death, the ‘Mona Lisa’ entered the royal collection of Francis I.
The Louvre, 75001 Paris, France, +33 1 40 20 5050
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Hall 15 of the Uffizi Gallery is a must-see thanks to its display of works by a young Leonardo da Vinci. These paintings were all completed before 1482, the year Leonardo left Florence to paint for Duke Ludovico il Moro in Milan. In this room, visitors can view the early stages of the artist’s brilliance during a time when he apprenticed under the great master Andrea del Verocchio. ‘Annunciation’ and ‘Adoration of the Magi’ are two of the highlights that evidence his scientific attention to detail, dynamic drawing technique and amazing ability to render landscape backgrounds.
Uffizi Gallery, Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, Florence, Italy, +39 055 238 8651
National Gallery, London
The National Gallery in London is home to two important works by Leonardo: ‘The Virgin of the Rocks’ and ‘The Burlington House Cartoon’, purchased by the museum in 1880 and 1962 respectively. The museum was founded in 1824 and houses a collection of more than 2,300 paintings in total – a collection that belongs to the public of the United Kingdom. As a result, visitors to the museum can enjoy spectacular artwork, like the two Leonardo masterpieces, for free. On average, the museum sees more than 6 million visitors per year!
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, United Kingdom, +44 20 7747 2885
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Another national museum lucky enough to have a da Vinci work in its collection is the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. In fact, ‘Ginevra de’ Benci’ is the only painting by Leonardo on public view in the Americas. The portrait was one of Leonardo’s first experiments with oil painting; there are a few wrinkles on the panel that reveal he was still endeavoring to control it. The gallery acquired the portrait in 1967 for a sum of $5 million – a record price at the time.
Vatican Museums, Rome
‘St. Jerome in the Wilderness’, an unfinished painting by Leonardo, is located in the Vatican Museums in Rome. It shows Saint Jerome kneeling in a rocky landscape, looking up toward a crucifix that has been faintly sketched at the top right portion of the painting. A lion lays at his feet. These museums, founded in the early 16th century, display the massive collection of artwork amassed by popes throughout the centuries. In addition to Leonardo, there are a number of other important Italian artists represented here, including Giotto, Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio to name just a few.
Vatican Museums, Viale Vaticano, Rome, Italy, +39 06 6988 3332
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Munich’s Alte Pinakothek is one of the oldest art galleries in the world, housing an impressive collection of old master paintings. The building’s Renaissance Revival architectural style is a work of art in itself. A standout of the collection is Leonardo’s ‘Madonna of the Carnation’, which has been on display here since 1889. Though it was originally attributed to Andrea del Verocchio, today art historians agree that it is indeed Leonardo’s work. It is the only work of art by the Italian master permanently displayed in Germany.
Alte Pinakothek, Barer Str. 27, Munich, Germany, +49 89 23805216
Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice
Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice is fortunate to call itself the home of Leonardo’s world-famous ‘Virtuvian Man’ ink drawing. Like most drawings done in ink, Leonardo’s geometric study of the proportions of the human body is displayed only on rare occasion. But that does not mean this gallery isn’t worth the visit. Its collection also boasts masterpieces of Venetian provenance up to the 18th century, including works by artists such as Tintoretto, Titian and Giorgione.
Galleria dell’Accademia, Campo della Carità, 1050, Venice, Italy, +39 041 520 0345
Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
A work by Leonardo in Russia? Yes, it’s true – head to the impressive-looking Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg to see ‘The Madonna Litta’. Though the painting’s attribution is under some dispute, the museum is adamant in stating that the work was done by Leonardo. The painting ended up in Russia through Count Litta of Milan, who sold four works to the Hermitage Museum, including this one, in January 1865. Upon acquiring it, the museum transferred it from a wood panel to canvas.
Hermitage Museum, Palace Square, 2, St Petersburg, Russia, +7 812 710 9079