Rare Da Vinci drawing comes to Library of Congress

The Finmeccanica Company, Italy’s largest defense aerospace company, is sponsoring a showing of Leonardo Da Vinci’s preparatory drawing for his painting “The Adoration of the Magi” at the Library of Congress today and tomorrow. 

The drawing is part of the prints and drawings collection of the renowned Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and is rarely exhibited in its home gallery. Dan Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code,” referred to the painting in his novel.

Stephen Bryen, president of the Finmeccanica Company, said the source of Leonardo Da Vinci’s genius was the intersection “of science to art and art to science. Very few real geniuses come into the world. He was one.”

This event is unique because it marks the first public display of a Da Vinci drawing in the United States. In the past, security concerns and a desire to protect the drawing have prevented public viewings of the drawing outside Italy.

Bryen notes that the Uffizi is “nervous about letting the drawing out of its grasp.” Uffizi selected the Library of Congress because of its renowned expertise in showcasing art.

Even though the drawing is small, an elaborate security detail escorted the drawing from Italy to Washington. “Bringing it all the way over here was a big undertaking,” Bryen said.

The monastery of San Donato a Scopeto in Florence originally commissioned Da Vinci to create the painting for its central altar.

Art historians recently conducted a series of infrared tests on the original painting. Their findings ignited a furor within the art world. 

Said Bryen:  “In 1482, Leonardo Da Vinci did some of the painting. At some later point the painting was completed, but not by him. Some of the concepts in the original painting were changed.” 

Thus the drawing is the original design for Da Vinci’s painting. “Concepts in the original painting were changed,” he said. “The drawing shows the first sketch of the painting.”

The general public can view the drawing, for free, in the Thomas Jefferson Building, Northwest Pavilion, 10 1st St. S.E., Washington, D.C. from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 8.