When “Leonardo da Vinci and the Idea of Beauty” opens at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston on 15 April, it will justifiably attract enormous public and critical attention. It features 15 drawings by Leonardo and his followers, borrowed fr om the Biblioteca Reale in Turin, as well as the Codex on the Flight of Birds, around 1505, from the same institution; seven Leonardo drawings from the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence; and eight drawings by Michelangelo from the Casa Buonarroti in the Tuscan capital.
It is not surprising to see such an important show at the Boston museum, one of the world’s great encyclopedic collections. But the institution behind the show and its first venue, the Muscarelle Museum of Art, part of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, though renowned and respected in the museum community, is far less widely celebrated. Yet with this and two previous shows of Italian art which traveled to Boston, on Michelangelo and Caravaggio, the Muscarelle has made a name for itself as an organizer of eye-catching, scholarly shows and for managing to secure loans of some of the world’s great art objects.