The Virgin and Child with St. Anne by Leonardo da Vinci
|Courtesy of www.renaissanceart.org|
Leonardo's development of the painting is evidenced in several preparatory works. He decided against placing an infant St. John the Baptist as Jesus' playmate, and instead replaced him with a lamb. The Lamb of God is placed at the precipice edge of the composition. Young Jesus has playfully slid off his mother's knee and closer to the lamb. The Virgin Mary sits upon St. Anne's lap and bends at the waist to hold Jesus.
St. Anne is featured prominently and forms the axis of the composition. All three figures blend and overlap. Their naturally outstretched limbs convey the lineage between them. The landscape is mountainous and the viewer has a sense of gazing over an abyss at the scene unfolding.
Leonardo employed his trademark "sfumato" effect that allowed the tones of the surrounding mountains and sky to blend into the religious figures. All appear softened and romanticized. The painting has influenced generations of classically inspired and manneristic painters and is now housed at the Louvre in Paris.