Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum exhibits Leonardo da Vinci and the splendour of Poland

A new show highlights the oft-forgot historical art collections of Poland

The shattering of Poland’s independence in the 19th and 20th centuries has tended to obscure its place in the history of collecting in earlier times. This exhibition, in the museum’s newly completed Quadracci Pavilion, sheds light on this little-known aspect of European culture (13 September-24 November). It brings to the US some of the most famous paintings in Poland, traces the fate of important collections, and displays work by some of the major Polish artists. The undisputed highlights are the wonderful “Lady with an ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci (below), now in Cracow, and the equally splendid Memling, “Last Judgment”, from Gdansk, (its first time ever in the US), plus five views of Warsaw by Bellotto, ordered by the King of Poland for the Royal Castle. There is a group of paintings by Polish artists and in particular works by 19th-century Jewish artists and the show also includes some works that were stolen or displaced during World War II and that have now been recovered and restored. Wisconsin and nearby Chicago have a high concentration of Polish-Americans (over 1.5 million), so the show is also bringing to them some of the splendours of their national heritage. The show travels to Houston and San Francisco.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Leonardo da Vinci and the splendour of Poland'