Leonardo da Vinci the perfumer exhibition at Mocenigo Palace

Discovering the new face of Leonardo

From 03 May 2019 to 20 September 2019

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From May 3rd to September 20th 2019, the magnificent Palazzo Mocenigo in Venice opens its doors to host a truly special exhibition born from the collaboration between the Civic Museums of Venice, Cosmetica Italia and Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna: Leonardo da Vinci, the perfumer 2019!

This unique event celebrates Leonardo da Vinci's discoveries in the field of cosmetics – a rather unknown and certainly unexpected field where he is recognized worldwide as a great inventor and scientist!

The Da Vinci exhibition in Venice 2019 commemorates the 500th anniversary of his death: the exhibition was designed to reconstruct the complex figure of Leonardo as a cosmetologist and perfumer who dedicated part of his work to creating fragrances and cosmetics.

The project, created by the Leonardo researcher Maria Pirulli, offers visitors the chance to discover the beauty recipes, hairstyles and remedies that great Leonardo invented to empower the women of his time and to rebuild the lively network of exchanges among the main Renaissance courts. For example, at the court of Ludovico il Moro, Leonardo organized parties, designed clothes and costumes; he invented fabrics, jewelry and perfumes. The exhibition will also highlight how closely Milan and Venice were connected: two cities where wearing perfumes was very common, and it was customary for barbers to sell cosmetics and perfumes. In the noble circles of the time there was even existed a "perfume magister" who was in charge of procuring original bottles of mixtures and fragrances for ladies.

During your visit you will be able to admire ancient codes, important innovations, research and ideas, remedies and recipes for distillates – for example, find concoctions with black sulfur and apples used to bleach hair, or a 'tané' to dye hair brown. The exhibition also features waxing ointments based on arsenic and gold pigments, as well as formulas Leonard used to create sweet smells for the most important Renaissance women, which awarded him the nickname of Magician. Interestingly, among the various aesthetic ointments on display, there is also "the water of snails", which preceded today’s ointment, and seems to have been used by Lisa Gherardini, universally known as Mona Lisa or the Gioconda!

Leonardo also influenced the art of hair styling: in various paintings ‘Vinci knots’ are sometimes noticeable: these are complex hairstyles enriched with jewels, nets and scented fabrics. It is an elegant decorative motif, which later became famous throughout the world and was also reproduced in frescoes, embroidery, fabrics, leather, weapons and jewelry, starting a proper fashion at the Court of Milan towards the end of the XV century: the 'Vinci' fashion. But what are these ‘Vinci’?

Vincis owe their name to the red willows, called Vinci, that are characteristic of the artist and scientist’s town of origin, Anchiano. It is likely that the Vinci knots were the product of observing how the flexible twigs of these trees can be used to weave baskets or tie vine trees, so much so that they later became the crest of the Accademia Vinciana. Towards the end of the fifteenth century these knots became one of the most popular motifs in the fabrics of clothing, especially female clothing, such as in the Gioconda's dress.

In an attempt to further explore the image of Leonardo the perfumer, a large section of the museum will be dedicated to the discovery of fashion, furnishings, art and aromas of the artist’s era.

Leonardo da Vinci the perfumer exhibition at Palazzo Mocenigo will plunge you into a purely Renaissance atmosphere of elegance and delicacy... the exhibition will lead you to trace the revolutionary footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci as he paved the way for modern cosmetics. Come and discover Leonardo's ‘magic at the Palazzo Mocenigo Museum in Venice. Buy online your entrance to Palazzo Mocenigo: the exhibition 'Leonardo Da Vinci the perfumer' 2019 is included in the museum standard entrance ticket!


Palazzo Mocenigo Museum Opening Hours

  • From November 1st to March 31st
    from 10.30 to 16.30 (the ticket office closes at 16.00)
  • From April 1st to October 31st
    from 10.30 to 17.00 (the ticket office closes at 16.30)


Palazzo Mocenigo Library Opening Hours

  • From Wednesday to Friday from 10.30 to 16.30
By Insidecom Editorial Staff