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Celebrations on the occasion of the 500th anniversary from the death of Leonardo Da Vinci: in Doha the lecture of Prof. Occhipinti “Leonardo da Vinci as Seen by His Contemporaries: Remarks About the Mona Lisa and Other Portraits”

Società Dante Alighieri and Qatar National Library (QBL), in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy in Doha, presented on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019, at QNL, the lecture of Professor Carmelo Occhipinti* “Leonardo da Vinci as Seen by His Contemporaries: Remarks About the Mona Lisa and Other Portraits”.

“I am particularly satisfied that Società Dante Alighieri is already active in Doha after only few weeks from the creation of a local committee to promote the Italian language and culture, announced during the visit to Qatar of the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on last 3rd of April”, says the the Ambassador of Italy to Qatar, H.E. Pasquale Salzano. “This first remarkable event, organized in collaboration with the Embassy in the framework of the programme of initiatives promoted by the Italian Government to celebrate the 500th anniversary from the death of Leonardo da Vinci, shows the commitment of the Italy system to promote Italian culture and the excellences of our Country”.

This lecture is part of the official programme of the National Committee for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, promoted by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, as well as in the “Vivere all’italiana” programme by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. It was aimed at highlighting the early history of some of the artist’s most famous paintings by sharing comments and reactions of those who stood in front when Leonardo was still active in Milan under Ludovico il Moro, later in the Republic of Florence and at the court in Paris, where he died in 1519”.

This conference is the first initiative promoted by the Dante Alighieri committee in Doha – which was inaugurated few weeks ago at the presence of the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during his official visit to Qatar on April 3rd, 2019 – and starts the collaboration between Società Dante Alighieri and Qatar National Library, that signed a protocol of understanding to run joint initiatives in the fields of scientific, technical and cultural cooperation.

*Carmelo Occhipinti, art historian and critic, is Associate Professor of Museology, Art Criticism and Restoration at the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

IL DISCORSO DELL’AMBASCIATORE SALZANO

Buonasera a tutti, good evening,

I am very pleased to present today a very important event which marks five hundred years since Leonardo da Vinci died and, at the same time, the beginning of the partnership between the Italian organization “Società Dante Alighieri” and Qatar National Library. It is the first of a series of initiatives by La Dante to present the rich Italian cultural and art heritage to Qatar.

“Società Dante Alighieri” was established in Italy in 1889 with the mission to promote Italian language and culture worldwide. Today it has a large network of 480 committees in 80 countries, including the newly established presence in Qatar.

The launch of La Dante activities in Qatar was recently announced by the Italian Prime Minister, H.E. Giuseppe Conte, during his first visit to the State of Qatar and commended as a further step towards the strengthening the Italian cultural offer in the Country.

Today I have the honour to introduce a lecture on Leonardo Da Vinci by the Italian professor and art historian Carmelo Occhipinti, Associate Professor of Museology, Art Criticism and Restoration at the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

This lecture is part of the official celebrations of the 500th (five-hundredth) anniversary of the death of Leonardo. To mark this important milestone, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has organized, through its network of Embassies, different events to increase the knowledge on one of the most important figures of all time in the fields of art, science, technology and many other disciplines.

Indeed, Leonardo is an all-around and multi-faceted genius, whose fascination for centuries has captivated whole generations until today.

Leonardo’s areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and he is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. He epitomised the Renaissance humanist ideal.

Many historians and scholars regard Leonardo as the prime exemplar of the “Universal Genius” or, as we said, the “Renaissance Man”, an individual of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”, and he is widely considered one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived. According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent in recorded history and “his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, while the man himself mysterious and remote”.

Italy and Qatar share a common vision about the importance and the contribution of culture. Culture in all its forms of expressions means creativity, innovation, development of communication codes, but also traditions and values that need to be maintained and preserved.

With this approach, we are pleased that the very first event of La Dante in Qatar is hosted here, at the Qatar National Library, both a place of cultural preservation and innovation.

Few days ago on the occasion of her meeting with the Italian President of the Senate, Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, H.E. Sheikha Hind bin Hamad Al Thani, highlighted that Qatar National Library is not a traditional library exclusively meant for research and study, but a lively and busy “square”, an environment open to cultural exchange and communication, where initiatives and activities are aimed at concretely promoting culture and creating bonds among communities.

This is exactly what Italy and Qatar have in common and perfectly expresses what we want to achieve with this event tonight.

The Genius of Leonardo embodies all these aspects and enshrines an extraordinary wealth of knowledge which belongs to all humankind…beyond borders and barriers.

I really hope you will enjoy this lecture and engage in an open discussion with Professor Occhipinti.

Thank you!