Feb 20, 2007

Virgin and Child

Virgin and Child

c. 1500

circle of Leonardo da Vinci

(Italian, 1452–1519)

Oil on wood

Framed: 57.5 x 47 x 4 cm (22 5/8 x 18 1/2 x 1 9/16 in.); Painted surface: 41.5 x 30.3 cm (16 5/16 x 11 15/16 in.); Panel: 41.7 x 30.9 cm (16 7/16 x 12 3/16 in.)

Holden Collection 1916.779



Madonna and Child appear in half-length, seated against a dark wall. The Child's body is covered in shadow as he looks over his shoulder at his mother. This painting was bought by James Jackson Jarves as a Leonardo. The landscape and features of the figures are similar to Leonardo's Madonna of the Rocks, and in typical Leonardesque fashion, the figures' heads incline slightly to the left. However, Virgin and Child was later attributed to a member of Leonardo's circle named Francesco Napolitano (active 1500) because of its resemblance to his Madonna and Child with St. Sebastian and St. John the Baptist in Zurich, Switzerland. Virgin and Child has not been widely accepted as a work of Napolitano; however, he was certainly a member of Leonardo's circle. The Sforzesco Castle, the seat of Milan's ruling Sforza family, appears in the background. The castle's original Torre del Filarete, visible in this painting, was destroyed by lightning in 1521 and later rebuilt by Francesco II Sforza. The destruction of the tower establishes a date of about 1500 for this painting.

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