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La Bella Principessa and the Warsaw Sforziad, by Pascal Cotte and Martin Kemp

This is a significant update to a book published in 2010 by Pascal Cotte and Martin Kemp, on an exceptional portait on vellum executed in inks and coloured chalks. This article offers evidence of the original location of the portrait in the Warsaw Sforziad. Beginning its journey as a German 19th-century pastiche in 1998, the portrait on vellum is now considered one of the works by Leonardo, about which we know most in terms of its patronage, subject, date, original location, function and innovatory technique. The article is here.

The Warsaw Sforziad, by Katarzyna Woźniak

This is a thorough historical assessment, as of May 2014, of the Warsaw Sforziad by Katarzyna Woźniak. As part of a larger project on this incunabulum and its possible association with La Bella Principessa, this essay is the first major historical study of the Warsaw Sforziad, developed with the help of archival evidence and previously unknown documents. The article is here.

La Bella Principessa and the Warsaw Sforziad. Circumstances of Rebinding and Excision of the Portrait, by Katarzyna Woźniak

This paper provides a detailed assessment of the circumstances of rebinding of the Warsaw copy of La Sforziada, and, according to the latest publication of Prof. Martin Kemp, parallel excision of the portrait of La Bella Principessa.

Extensive study of the history of the Zamoyski book collection as well as scrupulous analysis of alterations to the original volume – decoration of the new leather cover, watermarks on inserted sheets, bookplates, existing and obliterated inscriptions – have helped specify the time frame to the first years of the 19th century. Consequently, the identification of the individuals who were responsible for this restoration was possible.

On a wider historical panorama this text presents the rebinding of La Sforziada as part of the cultural and economical reform of the Entailed Estate of Zamosc, taken over by count Stanislaw Kostka Zamoyski in 1800. Furthermore, this study examines his close relationship to Princes Adam and Izabela Czartoryski, owners of Leonardo’s Lady with an Ermine. The article is here.

Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan, and the Sforziada by Giovanni Simonetta in Warsaw, by D. R. Edward Wright

This paper addressess the purpose of the Warsaw Sforziad, its iconography, provenance, historical background, and the uses of the four presentation copies on vellum. The article is here.

WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Bella_Principessa



The portrait of ‘La Bella Principessa’, recently attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, may come from a copy of the Renaissance incunabulum La Sforziada, in the collection of the National Library. On Wednesday, 28 September, the results of research that Oxford art historian Professor Martin Kemp carried out in Warsaw in January were published.

Stored in the collection of the National Library, the richly illuminated incunabula from 1490, Giovanni Simonetta’s work La Sforziada, is in itself a priceless monument of the Renaissance. Four copies of this work exist in the world, each decorated differently, but only one – in the BN collection – is signed by the author of the illuminations, Giovanni Pietro Birago. The book, which originally belonged to Galeazzo Sanseverino, commander of the troops of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, is now on deposit in the Library of the Order of Zamość in the National Library.

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Martin Kemp FBA is Emeritus Professor in the History of Art at Oxford University. He has written, broadcast and curated exhibitions on imagery in art and science from the Renaissance to the present day. Books include, The Science of Art: Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat (Yale University Press), and The Human Animal in Western Art and Science (Chicago 2007. He has published extensively on Leonardo da Vinci, including the prize-winning Leonardo da Vinci: The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man (1989 and 2006).He has curated and co-curated a series of exhibitions on Leonardo and other themes, including Spectacular Bodies at the Hayward Gallery in London and Leonardo da Vinci. Experience, Experiment, Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2006 and Seduced. Sex and Art from Antiquity to Now, Barbican Art Gallery London, 2007.


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INTERVIEW with Martin Kemp, Leonardo Da Vinci Discovery, August 8, 2013



La Bella Principessa: Newly Discovered Leonardo Da Vinci Painting on Exhibit at Gothenburg




The Illumination by Birago in the Sforziad incunabulum in Warsaw: in defence of Horodyski’s thesis and a new hypothesis


Simon Hewitt on Leonardo da Vinci and The Book of Doom

In October 2019 Hewitt released his new book, Leonardo da Vinci and The Book of Doom, investigating the subject of Leonardo’s beautiful and haunting portrait of Bianca Sforza known as La Bella Principessa, and comprehensively debunking claims made in 2015 by British artist and convicted forger Shaun Greenhalgh to have produced the work himself.


C. Geddo, LEONARDO – “Il ‘pastello’ ritrovato: un nuovo ritratto di Leonardo?”

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