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Leonardo Da Vinci
Florentine School. One of the very greatest painters. The most famous of the few of his works which have come down to us is, perhaps, the fresco at Milan, The Last Supper.
LONDON, NATIONAL GALLERY
THE VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS In a grotto-or rather in the foreground of a " rockscape "-the Virgin kneels, turned slightly to the left, her right hand resting on the shoulders of the infant St. John, who kneels on one knee with clasped hands towards the right, where in the foreground at the edge of the stream sits the infant Saviour, facing him in profile to the left, His left hand resting on the ground, His right raised in benediction. Behind the Saviour to the right sits an angel in a red mantle lined with green; her left hand supports the Child.
It is questioned whether this or the Louvre picture (see below) is Leonardo's original, but the weight of opinion is in favour of the latter.
The composition of the latter differs only in the detail of the angel's right hand, which points across the picture to the left with extended forefinger, symbolising the denial of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, whereas the London version is taken to affirm it.
The original version was commissioned by the Franciscan monks for the Church of the Conception, Milan, in 1483,
THE MADONNA AND CHILD AND ST. ANNE In the foreground of an open landscape St. Anne is seated facing us, her left hand resting on her hip. On her knees the Virgin is sitting in profile, stretching both arms out towards the right to hold her little Son, who is trying to mount a lamb which He has hold of by the ears.
Probably painted between 1507 and 1512. A large cartoon in black chalk is in the Diploma Gallery at Burlington House, which appears to be a study for the principal group.
LA VIERGE AUX ROCHERS
"LA BELLE FERONNIERE" A portrait of a young woman, bust length, behind a parapet footing the picture. She is in half profile to the left, the head turned slightly towards us, the eyes looking over our right shoulders. Her hair is parted in the middle, arid falls in smooth folds over the ear. Across her forehead is a thin black silk band supporting a jewel in the centre. A silk cord is wound three times round her neck, and falls on to her breast. Her velvet dress is cut square, and the sleeves are slashed at the shoulders.
"La Belle Feronniere" was the wife of a man named Feron, and was supposed to have been beloved by Francis I. But another tradition calls this a portrait of Lucrezia Crivelli.
ST. JOHN Half length, life size, turned slightly to our right. The head, framed in long curling locks, slightly bent to our left. The eyes and the mouth express a faint smile. The right forearm is raised, the hand pointing upward with forefinger extended. The left presses a cross to his breast and the folds of his raiment of camel's hair.
MONNA LISA ("LA GIOCONDA") Bust length, seated slightly to left, her left arm resting on the arm of her chair, her hands crossed. Her head turned facing us, her hair parted in the middle and falling on her shoulders under a thin veil. Her mouth seems to smile. Her dress is green, with yellow sleeves. Background, a landscape with winding rivers, and in the far distance snow mountains.
Painted in Florence about 1500 for Francesco del Giocondo as a portrait of his third wife, Monna Lisa Gherardini.
( Originally Publihed 1910 )