Madonna Litta (mid-1490s)

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Madonna Litta
mid 1490s
Tempera on canvas (handed over from panel), 42 x 33 cm
Hermitage MuseumSt Petersburg

This painting would seem to have been produced in Milan, where the artist moved in 1482. It was one of a number of works to herald the arrival of a new period in art, which was to become known as the High Renaissance. The beautiful woman feeding her child seems to be the epitome of motherhood and motherly love, perceived as perhaps the greatest human value. The composition is simple and balanced, the figures of the Madonna and the Christ child modelled with the finest use of light and shade. Beyond the symmetrical windows lies an endless mountain landscape, recalling the harmony and vastness of all Creation. There is a preparatory drawing for this canvas in the LouvreParis. The painting is also known by the name of its previous owner, Count Antonio Litta, from whom it was acquired in 1865. (SHM)

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