‘Fake’ Leonardo da Vinci paintings to exhibit at Chinese art institute

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/11 18:48:40

Picture shows the exhibited Christ Child as the Savior by Gian Giacomo Caprotti, also known as Salai. Photo: Courtesy of CAFA Sina Weibo

Controversial facsimiles of Leonardo da Vinci paintings are to be exhibited at a top Chinese art institute, drawing ire as fakes according to some internet users and international art critics. 

The Leonardo and His Outstanding Circle exhibition is scheduled to open at the Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing from Thursday to December 8. 

To commemorate the 500th anniversary of the artist's death, more than 20 paintings by da Vinci and his followers will be exhibited, to evince the "dialogue between the teacher and his students."

Criticism arrived ahead of the show's opening as online articles and industry insiders cast doubt on the authenticity of the exhibited work, which they alleged to be of subpar art standards. 

The works which the museum claims as works of da Vinci and some of his favorite disciples are of such low quality that "one doesn't have to be an art insider to tell they are not authentic," posted one user on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo social media platform.

A picture circulating online shows French painter Francois Clouet's facsimile version of da Vinci's Saint John the Baptist

Picture shows the exhibited Saint John the Baptist, which the museum said facsimiled by François Clouet. Photo: Courtesy of CAFA Sina Weibo

"It is probably the worst facsimile version of Saint John the Baptist ever, with stiff lines and John's twisted face so far from the original," a student majoring in art at CAFA told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Art exhibitors must shoulder their responsibility to spread culture and cultivate aesthetic values, You Yong, a doctorate student in Chinese National Academy of Arts asserted. 

"So they should strive to reach certain standards instead of collecting mediocre works to fool audiences," You said.

The Beijing exhibition promoter, Italian art historian Nicola Barbatelli is mired in controversy for claiming to have located a lost da Vinci: the Lucan Portrait

The University of Malta refused to exhibit the work when its academic experts determined the painting did not qualify for attribution to the Renaissance artist.

The controversial painting is now said to be the highlight of the CAFA exhibition. 

CAFA could not be contacted by the Global Times as of press time.
Newspaper headline: ‘Fake’ da Vinci paintings to exhibit at top art institute

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