The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne Rebecca Townsend Hum2235 Dr. Hoover Edison College Fall 2012 Townsend 1 The painting of The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne took more than a decade to complete. It was created in the 16th century, in Florence Italy. A young master artist declined the original commission for The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and suggested Leonardo da Vinci. The monks who commissioned the painting, an artifact of Christ’s family tree, gave Leonardo a workroom.
The figures in the picture are of Saint Anne representing the grandmother, the Virgin as mother (Mary/Madonna), the Child as Christ, and the lamb as the future sacrifice of Jesus. They are closely intertwined in the painting showing their tight bond in Christian History. Da Vinci could not separate Christianity from his work. Leonardo in his painting as well as in his life seemed to cultivate a sense of mystery (Capra XIX). The monks of the Florentine Santissima Annunziata commissioned Leonardo to paint The Virgin and Child with St. Anne as an altarpiece for their high altar. In his typical fashion, Leonardo did not complete the work on time.
The monks, eager for their altarpiece had to commission another artist to complete the work. The monks approached Filippo Lippi to complete the work Leonardo had started. Filippo Lippi was the artist that painted Madonna and Child with Two Angels in 1465. Lippi was the artist who had initially rejected the commission suggesting the monks give the project to Leonardo. Lippi considered Leonardo to be a superior artist. Lippi agreed to finish the project but died before its completion. After Lippi died, the monks had a young Florence artist named Perugino finally complete the piece.
At last, the monks of the Santissima Annuziata in Florence had their painting for their high altar. Some consider the painting to be a treasure of esoteric and occult wonders. Some are fascinated by the sight of St. Anne supporting her heavy daughter on her knee, with no visible means of support (Budny36). Townsend 2 It’s hard to find any evidence of Leonardo’s beliefs in his paintings, since there are no written records that have survived if they ever existed. Leonardo believed that a good artist must also be a good scientist in order to best understand and describe nature.
The humanistic, naturalistic, and scientific aspects of Leonardo’s life and work are not always clear because he was an original Renaissance man [Leonardo’s art, scientific investigations, technological inventiveness, and humanistic philosophy were all bound] together. During the 16th century he made numerous drawings and sketches with different themes that eventually lead to this famous artifact The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. Various designs still exist of the version painted in 1510. Leonardo could not fuse the two qualities he desired: an abstract formula and the immediacy of life.
The final painting now hangs in the Louvre in Paris. The painting is a complex and masterful synthesis of his previous variations (Capra 105). In some research it is stated that this artifact is unfinished, even though he had worked on this painting possibly for eight or nine years (Bramly 321). Leonardo had a habit of never finishing his work. Leonardo had drawn many different cartoons painting and sketches leading up to the final painting of The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. One of his cartoon sketches had St. John the Baptist kneeling next to Christ (Capra 105). Leonardo switched St.
John to a lamb in the final painting. The lamb (sacrificial animal) represents passion suffering in Christ’s destiny. It is not known why Leonardo replaced St. John, who was Christ’s cousin, with a lamb. He painted the Christ child as being about a year old. It looks as if he is slipping out of his mother’s hands and trying to grab hold of his destiny, the lamb. The lamb, being embraced by Christ has his head bent, while its tail and hind legs are clearly indicated to be in a comfortable place (Johannes 86). Townsend 3 Leonardo put his thoughts to paper and painted through, light, shadow, and geometry, using three dimensions.
Da Vinci declared, “There are three kinds of perspective. ” The first is concerned with the reason for the diminution of things as they form from the eye. Second contains the way in which colors vary as they form the eye. The third and last declaration of how objects should appear less distinct the more distant they are. Examples, perspective of disappearance (Capra 219). Perspective in painting was his destiny. From the pyramidal construction to the fact that only three feet belonging to the figures are visible, everything in the picture seems to be threefold.
In fact in this painting, Leonardo was pursuing a theological meditation on the destiny of Christ, which had begun in his early painting Virgin of the Rocks (Bramly 320). Most research indicates the rocks, mountain streams, and escarpments of his childhood made up his private landscape in his paintings (Bramly 86). Leonardo depicts the women as sister like in age even though they are indeed mother and daughter. Saint Anne, the mother of Virgin and Child, sits with her daughter on her lap. The Virgin is half rising from her sitting position and she appears to want to restrain her daughter from separating the Child and lamb (Kemp 273).
It is unusual for Mary to be portrayed in her mother’s lap. The painting may have more meaning to it than the Passion of Christ. Saint Anne perhaps represents the Church in this painting. Art critics have admired the unity of the three figures, the freedom of movement, the sweet and melting quality of the faces, and the mountains in the background. The family figures almost blend into each other in their rhythmic balance, with Leonardo’s dreamy mountains, foreshadowing the landscape of the Madonna, in the background (Capra 105). What better way to describe the bond of maternal love uniting three generations?
Leonardo had written in a short note in one of his journals, The Virgin and Child Townsend 4 with Saint Anne means “the glorification of motherhood”. The Virgin and Saint Anne in this masterpiece seem to be about the same age in the painting, with their two bodies merging almost into one. Leonardo gave the child two mothers both graced with the blessed smile of happiness. To the viewer’s eye, the painting may imply to evoke his thoughts on his childhood which the painter wanted our thought as childhood had been divided between his real mother and his stepmother.
He may have united them in his mind as he did in his painting, a picture that no one could have painted except of Leonardo De Vinci (Bramly 318). Both women, Saint Anne and the Virgin, have dedicated their lives to God, which had touch Da Vinci. One research source stated that in the painting Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, the Virgin is designed first, as she is in so many of his drawing, and the landscape seems to flow from her. The Painting is designed by Da Vinci in a diagonal, where we formerly saw a pronounced swing down from top right at the crown of the tree, through St .
Anne’s left arm and elbow, through the successive arm/knee/arm/knee configuration of the Virgin, down to the placement of St. Anne’s feet on the then more brightly “spotlighted” left section of the rocky foreground. Against that progression, we saw in the earlier state how Leonardo had orchestrated a countervailing upper left to the bottom right sweep through the principal heads and the arms of the Virgin and the Child, down to the rump and tail of the lamb. This movement was decisively echoed and enforced by the parallel diagonals of the Virgin’s right leg and St.
Anne’s left leg (Johannes 3). It is stated that Saint Anne’s left arm was painted the same way in another Leonardo da Vinci painting. Townsend 5 Leonardo’s composition of the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne is perhaps the one which, of all his designs, he contemplated the longest and in great depth. Perhaps, he felt attracted by the particular formal and iconographical problems presented by the subject. When we were asked to select an artifact to research and write about, the painting of the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne caught my eye.
The love and compassion in the women’s eyes and their expressions towards the innocent child reminds me of the love I have for my own children. Although much research has been done to discover why Leonardo painted the picture the way he did, it is still unclear. It is unclear why the women appear to be the same age and why he substituted St. John with the lamb for the final painting. Research is still being done on his journals and notes. Leonardo, who was left handed, wrote all his notes in mirror writing, from right to left (Capra, 27).
Perhaps further analysis of his notes and sketches will reveal more insight into the painting of the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. [pic] Work Citied Bramly Serge. Leonardo the Artist and the Man. Penguin Group. Great Britain. 1994. Print. Budny Virginia. The Art Buletin. Vol. 65, No. 1 (Mar. , 1983), pp. 34-50. Print. Capra Fritjof. The Science of Leonardo. New York. Anchor. December 2008. Print Johannas Nathan. Miteilungen. 36. Bd. H. ? (1992), pp. 85-102. Article. Kemp Martin. Leonardo on Painting. Yale Nota Bene. Yale University. 2001. Print. Marani Pietro C. Leonardo Da Vinci. Abrams Harry N. New York: 2000. Print.