Leonardo Da Vinci Essay

Leonardo Da Vinci Essay

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Featured in this gallery are the two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks (also known as The Madonna of the Rocks). These two altarpieces are being showcased in particular in this exhibition because they share a location in the same Milanese church, the San Francesco Grande, and most importantly the same artist (although this has been debated), Leonardo Da Vinci, painted both versions of the altarpiece. Further, another reason why they are being portrayed in this exhibition is due to the debates over their authenticity, even though they are 15 years apart in conception. Additionally, the two pieces share the same subject matter, imagery, iconography and pyramidal composition. In both altarpieces, the subject matter is unusual since the Biblical figures are placed in a mountainous pictorial backdrop; also, both paintings depicted were made for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception. These two pieces were further chosen because they incorporate many stylistic features - such as sfumatto (blurring of lines) and the exploitation of the gradation of light (chiaroscuro) - that the painter had accumulated and learnt from previous experiments, and which he then applied in this peak period of his career. The two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks also represent the artist’s continuous growth in the art of Italian Renaissance; The Virgin of the Rocks set the base for Leonardo Da Vinci to grow and mature as an artist in his two following infamous commissions, the Last Supper, and the Mona Lisa.

The two altarpieces share the same iconography of the plants painted. Leonardo Da Vinci was a botanist just as much as he was an engineer, or an artist. He paid close attention to details; for these paintings, rather than looking at ima...


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...ical way light and shade are distributed in separate areas, the loss of radiance in the light and the loss of the atmospheric veil” suggest that the Virgin was not painting by Da Vinci, but by Ambrogio de’ Predis.

The head of the angel may be the only part of the altarpiece where Da Vinci’s artistic hand is evident, although it was not solely him responsible for it. It has some of his “vivacity and sensitivity of handling, and the spotted light over the delicate curls in the angel’s hair is surely his invention.” Ambrogio de’ Predis’ hand is evident in the head of the angel as well, as there is a lack of crispness in the facial expression. In this altarpiece, the angel is no longer pointing to the infant St. John. This collaboration between the two artists is clearly identifiable and comparable to the first version in which Da Vinci was the single artist.

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