The blunder of France 2 TV channel: «Leonardo is French». Story of a misunderstanding that repeats itself

Leonardo da Vinci can’t even turn in his grave, because the one that attracts every year thousands of pilgrims (in the chapel in front of the Amboise castle) is not his real tomb and the remains that contains, with high probability, do not all belong to the artist who died five hundred years ago. And so, to get angry for the gaffe of France 2 that yesterday, on the news, defined “French” the artist born near Vinci, in Tuscany, in 1452, have been others. Tg2, for example, sensitive to these issues of “nationalist” flavor. The Italian video journalist, in the report, commented: “It’s not clear if this is carelessness or a bizarre version of a ius soli, which assigns citizenship not at birth but at death, in fact Leonardo died in France on May 2, 500 years ago, or the opening of the artistic front in the hexagonal expansionism beyond the Alps”. In short, open up heaven.

The death in France

And so, on the day in which the (Italian) head of State – Sergio Mattarella, and the (French) president Emmanuel Macron have made a tribute to the artist laying flowers on the tomb commemorating his death in France — even if the monument is a nineteenth century reconstruction, and the remains went missing in the religious struggles between the Catholics and the Huguenots, the theme overwhelmingly returned of the affiliation of Leonardo da Vinci, who lived at the court of the king of France only the last three years of his life, after leaving very important tracks throughout the whole Italy, from Milan to Vigevano to Florence. The point is that in that journey made on mule-back, in 1516, when he was 64 years old and full of a great desire to do new things, Leonardo carried with him all his belongings. Paintings included. The Mona Lisa, to say, but also the St. John the Baptist. And, in a way that is completely lawful, today, these masterpieces are in the Louvre museum. Not surprisingly, in this 2019 which marks the fifth centenary of his death, the most important exhibitions are in Paris. But is this enough to justify, albeit in the form of a gaffe, the definition of “French Leonardo”?

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