| The Lady with the ermine | Libertied from the dust of the centuries|
The attempt of an approach
by Stan Bert Singer
In Feb 2019 on my birhtday I have been to Krakau and visited the old town of Krakau and of corse some Museums.
In February 2019, on my birthday, I was in Krakow and visited the Old Town of Krakow and also some museums. To my shame, I must confess that I only learned by chance that the world-famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci is in Cracow. I thought it was in Italy or wherever. In any case, I immediately bought tickets and on a cold February day I visited the main museum not far from my hotel.
The famous painting is presented very sacred. One room, hardly any light, only one painting namely "Dama z gronostajem", i.e. the lady with the ermine.
I was immediately captivated by the painting, I knew it from the media of course, but an original is an original. At the same time, the colours made me think, which in my opinion were not shown to advantage due to the very specific lighting.
In the following months I researched everything there was to know about this painting and decided to kiss the painting awake from its thorny sleep. One has to understand that a five hundred year old painting does not look like it was painted five hundred years ago.
There is dirt, dust, yellowed varnish, restorers who have restored well and restorers who have restored less well - as unfortunately also happened with this painting.
For example, the background to be seen in the museum is black. In reality it was a blue-grey. There are countless details to be discussed here, but I do not want to bore you with restorative details, but rather present the painting by Cecilia Gallerani in this state as it may have looked at the time of its creation. Cecilia Gallerani is the name of the lady with the ermine who was Ludovico Sforza's mistress. The sitter was 16 or 17 years old at the time. The white ermine she is holding on her left arm alludes to her role as mistress, since Ludovico Sforza was nicknamed "white ermine".
The goal of my project was to make not only a "simple" replica - no it goes more further. I wanted the painting to be as near as possible to the originally, but not how it looks like now, but how it looked like in 1500 when it was fresh painted.
The painting technique of Leonardo da Vinci
Stan Bert Singer`s Replica
Now most art lovers have surely heard of the sfumato technique, which goes back to Leonard da Vinci.
Often it is only understood as a blurring of the edges, but Leonardo's technique is much more complex than a simple blurring of the edges. The illusion of three-dimensionality is rather achieved by overlaying with very transparent, almost colourless "white" intermediate glazes, which are combined with other glazes.
As this is no small task in terms of painting skills as well as time, it is only too understandable that Leonard often needed years for his paintings. Not least because he used walnut oil, which is known to dry very slowly, as a binding agent.
I have used all of these techniques in the now presented "stub free" replica. Over 18 months were spent on the painting, starting with the research up to the final completion.
For an interested art enthusiast or prospective buyer, I will be happy to give an insight into some details after getting to know them personally. The creation of the painting was documented by me in every step of the painting and so the growing of the painting can be observed. Some details are mentioned in the adjoining illustrations.
In this sense I wish you much pleasure in art in generally and particularly with Fräulein mademoiselle Cecilia Gallerani.
God bless You
Stan Bert Singer
Vienna Okt. 2020
Comparative study on colourfulness
The under part of 1-3 cm is not visible in most trivial copies. This replica was made on the basis of the original dimensions of the picture taken from the frame. Acuh missing in the trivial copies on the right and left edges in the range of 0 to 10 mm. These are only some of the details that have been taken into account in this replica. In an Ultra Hd resolution you can also see the lashes of the sitter, both in the original and in the replica.
Replica The Lady with the Ermine
Stan Bert Singer 2019 - 2020
after Leonard da Vinci Dama z gronostajem
Status of Painting:
price and detailed information on request.
A short introduction to the effects of glass, light and varnish
The influence of light and galls can be seen in the picture on the right - once with museum glass and once without museum glass. The painting is currently still without varnish and can only be covered with varnish in 18 months at the earliest. In case of a purchase it is recommended to ask the artist for advice.
A short introduction to colours, light and painting media
As far as the state of knowledge of science and research of the original painting allows, and this work has been researched quite extensively, the following can be reported very briefly on the pigments and painting media: Leonardo da Vinci used pigments made of mineral base material, such as umber, burnt umber and the same, black from burnt animal bones and lead white, vermillion and blue tones which were available in the 15th/16th century, especially lapis lazuli. In this approach to the original these pigments were preferably used.
We know very little about Leonardo's painting medium, if we look at it honestly, except that it was walnut oil, as it is known to be the least yellowing. Unfortunately walnut oil has the decisive disadvantage that it also dries the least quickly, and so you have to wait up to 2 weeks before you can apply another coat. We do not know for sure whether Leonardo really did this, but it is accepted by art historians, not least because Leonardo often took years to paint his pictures. Now I do not want to enter into a discourse with historians, but I would just like to point out that accelerators, i.e. siccatives, may have been used very late in the painting medium. In the end, even burned umbra is a kind of siccative, which as such cannot be proven to be siccative, etc. Of course this is more suitable for use in the background and in dark areas. Also the chemical analyses would support this.
Anyway, the chemical analysis is one thing, and a picture for painting is something completely different, because here you have the haptic relation to the colour and the painting medium.
I personally tend to believe that Leonardo did use siccatives in the darker parts of the painting, or painting media that do not only consist of nut oil, but possibly also of oils boiled in small quantities. The reason why it took him so long to create his works may have been partly due to the fact that he was a very busy man, with many interests in research, natural science and the like - all this is known and need not be explained here.
In summary, it can be said about the present replica that it was created with the greatest possible dedication to the original pigments and media.
The picture is painted on poplar wood. Only the use of lead white was abandoned for health reasons (a forger would of course use lead white) in order not to burden the future owner. Also I cannot share the opinion that lead white is inferior to the current white pigments. There are possibilities to achieve this also with today's pigments.
Finally, I would like to thank you for your interest and wish you all the best for the future and much pleasure in painting.