Leonardo da Vinci(1452-1519): Virgin of the Rocks (upper1/27/2021, 10:52:33 AM
Leonardo da Vinci(1452-1519): Virgin of the Rocks (upper part cropped), 1495–1508 , Oil on panel), 189.5 cm × 120 cm (74.6 in × 47.25 in), National Gallery, London The Virgin of the Rocks (sometimes the Madonna of the Rocks) is the name used for two paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, of the same subject, and of a composition which is identical except for several significant details. The version generally considered the prime version, that is the earlier of the two, hangs in The Louvre in Paris and the other in the National Gallery, London. The painting shows a grouping of four figures, the Virgin Mary, the Christ Child, the infant John the Baptist and an angel arranged into a triangular composition within the painting and set against a background of rocks, and a distant landscape of mountains and water. The Virgin Mary makes the apex of the pyramidal figure group, stretching one hand to include John the Baptist and raising the other above the head of the Christ Child in a blessing. It is generally accepted that The Louvre version of the picture was to have been the central part of a polyptych which the Brotherhood of the Immaculate Conception commissioned Leonardo and the de Predis brothers to paint for a chapel in the church of San Francesco Grande in Milan in 1483. It is hypothesised that it was privately sold by Leonardo and that the London version was painted at a later date to fill the commission. There are a number of other theories to explain the existence of two paintings. In the painting, the rigorously ordered pyramidal composition does not hinder the movement of the figures, and the painstaking orchestration of their gestures (the superimposition of hands and interplay of looks) takes on a new intensity in the diffuse light which softens outlines without weakening the modeling of the figures. This painting is regarded as a perfect example of Leonardo's "sfumato" technique. (Louvre) The figures’ natural poses and the omnipresence of the predominantly mineral landscape are highly innovative compared to the affected architecture and hieratic poses of the altarpieces of the period.