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Framed artwork 24.7 x 27.9 cm
There are two versions of Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna of the Rocks (the Louvre version was painted first). These two paintings are a good starting point for defining the qualities of the new High Renaissance style. Leonardo painted both pictures in Milan, where he had left Florence.
Normally, when we see Mary and Christ (for example, in the paintings of Lippi and Giotto), Mary is enthroned as the Queen of Heaven. See more
Here, on the contrary, we see Mary sitting on the ground. This type of representation of Mary is called the Madonna of humility.
Mary has her right arm around the child St. John the Baptist, who makes a gesture of prayer to the child Jesus. The Christ child in turn blesses St John. Mary's left hand hovers protectively over her son's head while an angel looks on and points to St John. The characters are all set in a fabulous and mystical landscape with rivers that seem to lead into a representation of Paradise by Leonardo. In the foreground we see carefully observed and precisely rendered plants and flowers.
We immediately notice Mary's ideal beauty and graceful movements, characteristic of the High Renaissance.
This is the first time that an Italian Renaissance artist has completely abandoned halos. Fra Filippo Lippi has reduced the halo to a narrow ring around Mary's head. It is clear that the unreal and symbolic nature of the halo was at odds with Renaissance realism. In a way, it was a necessary vestige of the Middle Ages: how else to indicate the divinity of a figure?
About Leonardo 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.