The so-called Burlington House Cartoon, a depiction of St Anne, the Virgin, the Child and St John the Baptist, is a drawing by the Italian Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci.
It is a life-size cartoon combining two popular themes of 15th-century Florentine painting: the Virgin (Mary) and Child with St John the Baptist, son of Mary's relative Elizabeth, and the Virgin and Child with St Anne, Mary's mother. See more
The three generations of Christ's family are represented in this way: St Anne holds her daughter Mary on her lap and the latter distracts the Child who turns to St John. There is a subtle interplay between the gazes of the four figures, with St Anne smiling at her daughter Mary, while Mary's eyes are fixed on her son, whom St John is also looking at.
Saint Anne gives the Virgin a strange, emotional look, as if she already imagines the suffering that Mary will have to endure during the Passion of Christ. The delineation of the four bodies is unclear; the heads of the two women, in particular, seem to emerge from the same body. Leonardo has endeavoured to reproduce a polycentric sense of movement, so that the two figures merge into a single complex, in which the head of St Anne stands out. The Virgin Mary's expression is extraordinarily tender, but at the same time her face is majestically beautiful, otherworldly, suggesting a deep maternal devotion.
About L. DA VINCI
Leonardo da Vinci was born on 15 April 1452. He was the son of a notary and a peasant woman who never married.
In 1466, he began working in the workshop of a sculptor named Andrea del Verrocchio. It was here that he began to paint, sculpt and draw.
Leonardo da Vinci became a painter, sculptor, engineer, inventor, musician, writer and architect, and was considered a great genius. He was always very interested in anatomical studies of the human body and could draw human organs in great detail. See more
He was accepted into the painters' guild in Florence in 1472 and opened his own painting and sculpture studio. His fame began to grow and he was commissioned to produce many different and very important works.
Throughout his life, he was in the service of several dukes who commissioned sculptures and paintings from him, but what really interested him was inventing new vehicles, weapons and objects.
All the works of Leonardo da Vinci are known, but the most famous are: the painting of "The Last Supper", which he painted on a fresco in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan; "La Gioconda", better known as "La Monna Lisa"; and "Vitruvian Man", a famous drawing of a man with four arms and four legs, in which he attempted to study the human body.
He also made many sculptures, but none of them have survived to the present day.
Although he was always creating and building new works, the struggles that took place during his life, as well as the struggles and rebellions that took place after his death, are responsible for the fact that many of his creations were destroyed, burnt or lost, including his remains that were thrown away in an unknown place after a war.
He died on 2 May 1519 in France.