The art collections at Wawel Castle include the world-famous portrait of "Lady with an Ermine" by Leonardo da Vinci, arguably the most valuable work of art present in Krakow. You will see the marvellous painting displayed in a separate chamber, along with a number of showpieces by Eugene Delacroix or Pieter Coecke van Aelst.
Wawel Royal Castle
is a massive fortified complex placed on a hill upon the Vistula river
, right in the heart of Krakow. The art collections available to visitors are exceptionally rich there, encompassing the grand tapestry collection of Sigismund II Augustus, the Lanckoronski Collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, treasury displays of goldsmith's works or impressive sets of porcelain from the Royal Meissen Manufacture. The masterpiece of most significance you will see there is definitely the portrait of "Lady with an Ermine", created by Leonardo da Vinci between 1489 and 1490.
The jewel in the selection of more than 1000 paintings collected at Wawel is displayed inside a separate chamber of Renaissance decor, regarded as one of the most beautiful interiors of the era you may find in Poland.
Wawel is one of the six locations worldwide where it is possible to admire the paintings by da Vinci, while "Lady with an Ermine" represents one of the four rare examples of female portraits painted by the master's hand, along with "La Gioconda " or "Ginevra de Benci".
"Lady with an Ermine" is an oil work created on a walnut wooden panel, depicting 16-year-old Cecilia Gallerani
– a mistress of the mighty Duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza
, the commissioner of the masterpiece. The three-quarter profile of the face of Gallerani, a member of a non-aristocratic family who bore a child to the Duke the same year he got married, is a greatly-composed portrait; the play of lights shows a hint of a smile on the face of a young lady holding an ermine, the armorial animal of her beloved aristocrat
. In the 1800, the portrait was bought by a Polish-born prince Czartoryski as a gift to his mother. After having been re-captured from the Nazis, it would be displayed at the Krakow-based Czartoryski Museum until it was re-located to royal Wawel. If you are interested in discovering the remaining mysteries associated with the painting, contact us with no hesitation – we will surely guide you through what the experts on Leonardo da Vinci have discovered.
If you want to see this masterpiece, you can use one of our programes:
- There may only be 20 visitors admitted to the chamber where "Lady with an Ermine" is displayed at one time.
- Taking pictures of the painting is not allowed.