Da Vinci’s ‘Lady With An Ermine’ in collection bought by Poland

Warsaw: Poland’s government has bought a private art collection that includes Italian Renaissance master Leonardo daVinci’s famous ‘Lady With An Ermine’ — regarded as one of the country’s greatest treasures — at a knockdown price.
Apart from fine art, the collection of the Czartoryski Foundation in Krakow also includes 86,0000 museum objects and 250,000 books and manuscripts.
Culture Minister Piotr Glinski said the collection was bought for 100 million euros ($106 million), while the artworks were valued at an estimated 2 billion euros, making it more a donation than an outright sale. “We acquired the collection for 5 per cent of its estimated value,” Glinski told Polish television on Friday.
The Czartoryski Foundation’s board closed down to protest the sale.
But owner Adam Karol Czartoryski told Polish news agency PAP that he wanted to continue the work of his ancestors in the interest of his country. The Czartoryski Museum in the southern city of Krakow had been the permanent home of da Vinci’s ‘Lady With An Ermine,’ which depicts Cecilia Gallerani, the 17-year-old mistress of Lodovico Sforza, the duke of Milan, holding an ermine or weasel. The masterpiece dated 1489-90 is regarded by some art historians to be the world’s first allegorical portrait, with the ermine symbolising purity and honour.
Da Vinci (1452-1519) produced only a handful of portraits during his career, among them the enigmatic ‘Mona Lisa.’ The Czartoryski family acquired the portrait in 1900. It was stolen by the Nazis during World War II and returned to the owners after1945. — dpa