Italy’s top expert on Leonardo da Vinci, Carlo Pedretti, died last month in his home in Pistoia just one day before turning 90.
By the age of 13, Pedretti could already write left handed and read backwards as Leonardo did. He published his first articles on Leonardo at 16, hitting the headlines of Italy’s most read newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera, for his premature expertise on Da Vinci only a few years later, in 1952, at the age of 23.
Regarded as the foremost authority on Leonardo da Vinci, in his foreword for the book Carlo Pedretti – A Bibliography of His Work On Leonardo da Vinci And The Renaissance (1944-1984) written by Joyce Ludmer, famed art historian Kenneth Clark states that Pedretti was “unquestionably the greatest Leonardo scholar of our time.”
A professor emeritus of art history and the Armand Hammer Chair in Leonardo Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of more than 50 books and 700 essays and articles on Leonardo translated in various languages, Pedretti was also a member of the ministerial committee for the National Edition of the Manuscripts and Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci.
Amongst the honors he was tributed are the Gold Medal for Culture of the President of the Italian Republic and the Congressional Citation, the highest award from the Government of the United States, both awarded in 1972.
He was also a honorary member of the ancient Academy of Euteleti at San Miniato and a regular contributor to the cultural pages of Corriere della Sera and Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano.
He attributed to Leonardo a wax model (c.1506-08) of a bucking horse with rider, possibly an equestrian portrait of Charles d’Amboise, the French Governor of Milan from 1503-1511 and Leonardo’s friend and patron, as well as a drawing of the painter Riccardo Tommasi Ferroni (1934-2000).