Comment: Da Vinci Knesset exhibit a missed opportunity

Only one side of six double-sided leaves from Codex Atlanticus is on show.

February 27, 2010 21:54
2 minute read.
Da Vinci sketches

da vinci 311. (photo credit: Leonardo)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Art historians often viewed Leonardo da Vinci’s output as a missed opportunity: The commensurate renaissance thinker, he spread his superhuman curiosity and talents on a range of subjects so vast that he rarely finished a single project.

A massive project for a bronze horse was left as a sketch, only cast in metal several years ago according to Leonardo’s plans; the Last Supper in Milan painted in an experimental technique that, more than anything, made the work of restorers all the more difficult as they grappled with the unorthodox chemical combinations he used, and indeed, his greatest surviving work, even following careful restoration, is but a shadow of its former glory.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

It is therefore symbolic that a small exhibition of his drawings in the Knesset lobby is also a missed opportunity; symbolic, but also very frustrating.

The six leaves from the Codex Atlanticus, out of Italy for the first time and on view in the Knesset until March 18, was brought here by the delegation accompanying Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi earlier this month.

The pages arrived in Israel after a massive restoration project where the codex, Leonardo’s greatest collection at 1,119 pages, was taken apart leaf by leaf and each of its pages framed. The main effort took place between 1968 and 1972, but the most recent restoration work was carried out as late as 2008.

Each of the pages has a recto and a verso side; Leonardo did not treat his scientific treatises as works of art and made drawings and notes in his famous inverted handwriting on both sides.

It is therefore infuriating that the six leaves, each enshrined in a dedicated double-glass panel meant to show both sides, were placed in the Knesset near a wall so that only one side is visible.


To add insult to injury, the makeshift squares of cardboard covering the backs of the pages fell down in two of the glass installations and now show through the front. The hallway where the pieces are on show is wide enough for them to be placed in the middle of the room and there is no reasonable explanation for showing only one side of them.

When this reporter looked behind one of the panels where the cardboard moved out of place to see what he was missing, he was promptly scolded by a Knesset security guard barking at him “not to look behind.”

It is quite sad, as from the ink that bleeds through the paper one can tell that the backs of the pages are just as exquisite as their fronts.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Sarah Silverman
August 26, 2014
Jewish women take home gold at 2014 Emmys