“Lady with an Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci – the “star” of the Czartoryski collection – is the most valuable painting in Polish collections and a magnet that attracts lovers of Renaissance art to Krakow. But its international fame began in the interwar period.
From Friday, “Lady” will be available for viewing again in the Czartoryski Museum, which has been opened after renovation, where it has been exhibited for years. Leonardo da Vinci painted the picture around 1490. The artist portrayed Cecilia Gallerani, the 17-year-old lady of the Milan court, the mistress of Prince Lodovic Sforza. Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski in unknown circumstances bought the painting in Italy around 1800 and gave it to his mother – Princess Izabela Czartoryska née Fleming, who in 1801 opened the first public museum in Puławy. Robbed by the Germans, “Lady with an Ermine” was found at the end of the war by the Americans and placed in a depot in Munich, from where Karol Estreicher brought her to Poland by the same “treasure train”, which brought the Altar of Wit Stwosz to Krakow.