The long-running saga of La Bella Principessa, the work its owner and a prominent scholar both believe to be a genuine Leonardo, did not end with the picture’s inclusion in the Leonardo show now on view at London’s National Gallery. Not for a lack of trying on the owner’s part, according to The Independent which has published some of the correspondence between Nicholas Penny of the National Gallery and Peter Silverman, the owner:
In one email to Dr Penny, Mr Silverman wrote: “I am rather dumbfounded by your silence, indifference and lack of support on this Leonardo thing.”
The row eventually became so fierce that Mr Silverman instructed lawyers to act as an intermediary between him and Dr Penny. In a letter dated 19 September, the exasperated gallery director told him: “I do not think there is going to be anything to be gained from further correspondence on this point,” calling time on a debate that has lasted for more than three years.
Mr Silverman said yesterday: “It’s a great shame that this beautiful teenager, who died so young, has to die a second death at the altar of bruised egos and political expediency.”