Leonardo da Vinci: The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
“The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.”
It’s been 500 years! All of Italy – and the world – is celebrating Leonardo da Vinci’s life by remembering his death on May 2, 1519.
I am familiar with his most famous paintings, which have become mythological themes in recent books and movies – the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and the Vitruvian Man. Leonardo da Vinci was much more than three paintings, as I have learned from my exploration into the life of Leonardo.
ChasingART will be celebrating the Life of Leonardo over the coming months by featuring his other paintings. Each one holds an extraordinary story within the paint and brushstrokes.
Thank you for joining me on this treasure hunt, for indeed that is what it turned out to be!
“Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus – three generations, two the fruit of immaculate conception – are portrayed in a landscape. The picture was very probably commissioned as an ex-voto to Saint Anne in gratitude for the birth of Louis XII’s daughter, but Leonardo worked too long on the picture to deliver it. The composition is a fine example of his experimentation with figure composition and greatly inspired artists of the following generation.”
The lamb is a symbol of sacrifice, a foreshadowing of the Passion. Jesus’s mother, Mary, tries to protect him by holding him back. What is interesting to me is that Mary is sitting on her mother’s lap. A protector of the protector, which suggest a close family connection. Some believe that Leonardo’s childhood provides context in that he was raised by his mother, but was adopted by the wife of his father, Ser Piero.
Sigmund Freud weighed in with a psychoanalytic examination entitled, Leonardo da Vinci, A Memory of His Childhood, suggesting that Mary’s garment, if you look at it at a certain angle, reveals a vulture. I confess that I have looked at this painting from various positions and cannot see anything that resembles a vulture.
In 2011-2012, there was a kerfuffle over whether this painting should be restored. Some experts were for the restoration, some were not, thinking that the painting may be damaged. The final outcome: the painting was cleaned and is located in Room 710 Department of Painting of the Lourvre, Denon wing 1st floor, Grande Galerie.
Or you can see the restored painting on the Louvre website.
I invite you to listen to my podcast Celebrating Leonardo on Tea Toast & Trivia.