Find more prominent pieces of religious painting at Wikiart.org – best visual art database. It is generally accepted that this painting was produced to fulfill a commission of 1483 in Milan. [21] Those who painted and sculpted the subject of the Virgin and Child with St John include Fra Filippo Lippi, Raphael, and Michelangelo.[22][23][24]. This image was much copied by Flemish artists such as Joos van Cleve and Quentin Matsys – there is a small painting in Chatsworth by the latter. [6] However its precise attribution is still the subject of a debate. [2] It is about 8 cm (3 in) taller than the London version. This unnatural illumination emphasises their divine beauty. The draft portrays a woman, probably kneeling, with her right hand outstretched and her left on her heart. [3][4] This painting is regarded as a perfect example of Leonardo's "sfumato" technique. The two paintings differ in compositional details, in colour, in lighting and in the handling of the paint. [39], In her 1967 book (published in English in 1985) Angela Ottino della Chiesa cites four paintings derived to some degree from The Virgin of the Rocks: the Holy Family and St. John by Bernardino Luini in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, the Thuelin Madonna by Marco d'Oggiono in the Thuelin collection in Paris and the Holy Infants Embracing by Joos van Cleve in the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. It was reported at that time to be in a poor state and was attributed by some critics to Leonardo and by others to Bernardino Luini. [9], In 1503 Ambrogio again appealed for payment, on his own behalf and that of the heirs of his now deceased brother, Evangelista. [9] In 1880, the painting was sold by the Earl of Suffolk to the National Gallery for 9,000 guineas. In some notes destined for the artist’s manual he was compiling, Leonardo remarked how even the faces of ordinary people look beautiful at dusk when the light is low. For an artist who notoriously left works unfinished and from whom even fewer survive, this is a rare example of one of his large-scale paintings. It was suggested that the altarpiece should be assessed by experts and evaluated, for the final payment. Leonardo studied the landscapes of the areas in which he lived in detail. By blocking out most of the sky and surrounding his figures with tall rocky outcrops, overhanging ledges, and dark hollows, Leonardo creates a gloomy environment from which the figures’ faces and bodies emerge as though spot-lit. [9] A final payment was to be negotiated upon completion and delivery of the work in December 1483. It gives us insight into some of Leonardo’s ground-breaking scientific observations, demonstrating techniques and innovations which transformed Italian painting. [2] Kenneth Clark agrees with this interpretation, placing the Louvre painting prior to 1481 and the London painting from 1483. Read more. The implication here was not that she was the product of a virgin birth, but that God, at her conception, granted her freedom from the stain of Original Sin i.e. 35. [2] The details of the flowers are also quite different in the two paintings, with those in the Louvre painting being botanically accurate, and those in the London painting being fanciful creations. That Da Vinci followed the precepts of his time is undeniable. The first certain record of this picture is in 1625, when it was in the French royal collection. [16], It is generally accepted by art historians that the Louvre version is the earlier work. Photographs held … [9] The contract was not explicit about what each artist was to do. In 1476 (less than a decade before ‘The Virgin of the Rocks’ was commissioned), Pope Sixtus IV at last adopted the feast for the Western church. [9] Leonardo and Ambrogio then requested Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, to intervene on their behalf. A dispute over money led Leonardo to sell his first version of the picture (image above) – which is now in the Louvre, Paris. [9] On August 7, 1507, and October 23, 1508, Ambrogio received two payments totalling 200 Lire. [38] Taylor refutes this, drawing attention to the fact that at the time of writing, Pizzorusso had plainly not seen the glacial lakes to which she referred, and had mistaken clumps of moss for sandstone boulders. The paintings are both nearly 2 metres (over 6 feet) high and are painted in oils. [9], In 1479 the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception contracted Francesco Zavattari and Giorgio della Chiesa to decorate the vault of the chapel. [10] This theme has two distinct interpretations. The subject was still so new there was no standard way of showing it, giving Leonardo free rein to create a new composition. The confraternity finally managed to come to an agreement with Leonardo, and he began work on a second version of the painting; the one that is now in our collection. Although our doors have temporarily closed, it's still possible to book tickets for visits from 2 December onwards. Take Leonardo da Vinci’s the Virgin of the Rocks, in which the infant Jesus finds himself in a shadowy cave on an Alpine playdate with a baby John the Baptist. [12], In 2009/2010 the painting underwent cleaning and conservation work,[6] returning to display in July 2010. So here too we can see that the value and the documentary purpose of these works, which were made as part of the Ambrosiana’s artistic and cultural programme, were far from being mundane plagiaries and still today they allow us to reconstruct the history of the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. [9] On June 23, 1503, the Confraternity set out a deed contesting De Predis' request for evaluation or return of the painting. John the Baptist is the patron saint of Florence and has often been depicted in the art of that city. Details of the colours and the gilding of the major parts were specified in the contract. [36], It has always been agreed that the Louvre Virgin of the Rocks is entirely by the hand of Leonardo da Vinci. The unified composition. The details of the painting, colouring and gilding are set out in the contract. Leonardo had a lifelong fascination with the natural world. Luke Syson interviewed by Alistair Sooke. Firstly, it had always been held by the Christian Church that Jesus was the immaculately conceived Son of God, whose mother was a virgin. Their upward energy contrasts with the water’s flat stillness. Leonardo da Vinci and The Virgin of the Rocks xi Fig. These apparently primeval elements suggest the scene may be set in the earliest moments of creation: the first verses of the biblical creation story tell of God creating the earth out of the watery deep. [26], In the London painting, all the forms are more defined, including the bodily forms of the clothed figures. Actually, Vespino’s copy shows us what the London version originally looked like, in which the three figures (the Christ Child, St John the Baptist, and the Virgin) have haloes, and the little St John is holding a cross. With Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks, we are clearly looking at a mystical vision of Mary, Christ, John the Baptist and an angel in heaven. [11] In 1576, the altarpiece was removed from the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at the Church of S. Francesco Grande, Milan and the chapel was demolished. [12][13] Some researchers believe that the artist’s original intention was to paint an adoration of the infant Jesus. Image: Leonardo da Vinci, 'A star-of-Bethlehem and other plants', c.1506–12. [2], Two paintings of angels playing musical instruments are believed to have been part of the composition that was set into the altarpiece. He studied the landscapes of the areas in which he lived in detail, and observed the effects of water and time on the natural environment. [9] It is presumed that Evangelista de Predis was a gilder and assisted in preparing the colours. There are only two musicians, both turned the same direction and both playing musical instruments. The lighting in the Louvre painting is softer and appears warmer, but this may be the result of the tone of the varnish on the surface. Davies says it is "not certain" if these details which are painted in gold are contemporary with the painting or have been added by a later artist. These are both in the National Gallery, London. [28], The relationship between the two paintings “remains much debated”. The relief figures were to be brightly painted and gilded. Most authorities agree that the work is entirely by Leonardo. [9] On April 27, 1506 an evaluation was made. In 1483, April 25, Prior Bartolomeo Scorlione and the Confraternity contracted Leonardo da Vinci, and the brothers Ambrogio and Evangelista de Predis to provide the painted panels for the altarpiece.