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90  rediscovering Saint Anne

Fig. 64 Giampietrino, Leda c. 1510–15, Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Kassel.

A drawing copied many times over These copies by Lanino illustrate the extent of the reputation of the final Saint Anne cartoon, starting in the sixteenth century. The first artist inspired by it seems to have been Giampietrino, in the second decade of the Cinquecento. Under his Leda, now in the Kassel

museum (fig. 64), inspired from Leonardo’s drawings, infrared reflectography has revealed the existence of a first sketch of a Saint Anne, also after Leonardo (fig. 73).7 The contours of the composition seem similar to those of the third cartoon, and it reproduces characteristic details of it that were later modified by Leonardo as

he worked on the painting—these include the position of the lamb’s front left leg, which is bent and nearly touching the Virgin’s toe; the animal’s muzzle close against Jesus’s arm; and the large drapery of the cloak behind Mary’s back. Throughout the century, it was copied by Italian artists like Lanino and Pietro da Bagnara (figs. 82 and 83),8 as well as by such Flemish artists as Jan Sanders van Hemessen and Michiel van Coxcie (figs. 78 to 81 and cat. 118). In addition, a number of anonymous copies exist (figs. 84 and 85). Painted versions were made, as well as new, full-scale cartoons. These large drawings, which could be used to reproduce the composition, were certainly also considered to be collector’s works, as demonstrated by the four cartoons in the dukes of Savoy collection. Finally, there is a series of paintings representing the Christ Child and Lamb, the prototype of which was clearly taken from the original cartoon or from one of the copies (figs. 89 to 93). These works were obviously not all copied directly from the original cartoon, because in time, the copies themselves were used as models. Among them, the Resta-Esterházy cartoon appears to be the most detailed and certainly most accurate reflection of Leonardo’s composition. Unfortunately, we only have old photographs, which do provide an indication of the quality, but do not give enough information to determine its attribution. It certainly was not the original cartoon, as there are no perforation marks. The figures, however, are the same size as those in the Louvre painting, and the drawing, which is extremely precise, corresponds exactly to the lines of the underlying drawing visible via infrared imaging techniques. It may possibly be an excellent copy made in Leonardo’s workshop after the original. This would also explain its fame in Milan, at least since the early seventeenth century. Before it was viewed in Lombardy, Leonardo’s cartoon produced in Florence also inspired several artists in that city. Traces of the work can be seen in Raphael’s Little Cowper Madonna and especially in his Belvedere Madonna in Vienna (fig. 65),9 as well as in Franciabigio’s Holy Family in the same museum (fig. 182), and even in an anonymous Florentine painting from the early sixteenth century that recently came up for sale (fig. 66). This third composition left a much larger artistic legacy than that of the two earlier cartoons. We shall see that this design was copied widely, as Leonardo made changes during the painting process. A study of the copies and variations after the Saint Anne projects confirms the sequence of the cartoons and positions this one, a preparatory work for the painting in the Louvre, as the artist’s final reflection on the theme. Leonardo set the scene in a landscape, as in the Burlington House Cartoon. The study of the underlying drawing on the Louvre painting has confirmed that the chain of mountains had been drawn at the same

time and using the same technique as for the figures. In addition, the 1922 sale catalogue for the RestaEsterházy cartoon describes a tree and mountains; peaks are clearly visible to the right of Saint Anne’s head in the old photographs. A copy drawn from this cartoon (cat. 27), confirms the composition of this environment. By this stage, the artist had therefore largely finalized his landscape, which is also very similar to that of the London cartoon. The final composition This last composition was, in fact, more a refinement than a transformation of the previous design. Leonardo had decided, once again, to reverse the direction of the figures, then to perfect the movement, accentuating the continuous rhythm of the lines. Comparing the reverse image of the Resta-Esterházy copy to copies of the 1501 cartoon reveals that Saint Anne is in the same position. But her daughter is now firmly seated on her lap, leaning slightly more toward the ground, in a pose that brings to mind that of the Apostle Philip in The Last Supper (fig. 24).10 The shoulders of the two mothers

Fig. 65 Raphael, Belvedere Madonna, c. 1505–06, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.


exploring the subject, from the london cartoon to the painting in the louvre   91  

90  rediscovering Saint Anne

Fig. 64 Giampietrino, Leda c. 1510–15, Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Kassel.

A drawing copied many times over These copies by Lanino illustrate the extent of the reputation of the final Saint Anne cartoon, starting in the sixteenth century. The first artist inspired by it seems to have been Giampietrino, in the second decade of the Cinquecento. Under his Leda, now in the Kassel

museum (fig. 64), inspired from Leonardo’s drawings, infrared reflectography has revealed the existence of a first sketch of a Saint Anne, also after Leonardo (fig. 73).7 The contours of the composition seem similar to those of the third cartoon, and it reproduces characteristic details of it that were later modified by Leonardo as

he worked on the painting—these include the position of the lamb’s front left leg, which is bent and nearly touching the Virgin’s toe; the animal’s muzzle close against Jesus’s arm; and the large drapery of the cloak behind Mary’s back. Throughout the century, it was copied by Italian artists like Lanino and Pietro da Bagnara (figs. 82 and 83),8 as well as by such Flemish artists as Jan Sanders van Hemessen and Michiel van Coxcie (figs. 78 to 81 and cat. 118). In addition, a number of anonymous copies exist (figs. 84 and 85). Painted versions were made, as well as new, full-scale cartoons. These large drawings, which could be used to reproduce the composition, were certainly also considered to be collector’s works, as demonstrated by the four cartoons in the dukes of Savoy collection. Finally, there is a series of paintings representing the Christ Child and Lamb, the prototype of which was clearly taken from the original cartoon or from one of the copies (figs. 89 to 93). These works were obviously not all copied directly from the original cartoon, because in time, the copies themselves were used as models. Among them, the Resta-Esterházy cartoon appears to be the most detailed and certainly most accurate reflection of Leonardo’s composition. Unfortunately, we only have old photographs, which do provide an indication of the quality, but do not give enough information to determine its attribution. It certainly was not the original cartoon, as there are no perforation marks. The figures, however, are the same size as those in the Louvre painting, and the drawing, which is extremely precise, corresponds exactly to the lines of the underlying drawing visible via infrared imaging techniques. It may possibly be an excellent copy made in Leonardo’s workshop after the original. This would also explain its fame in Milan, at least since the early seventeenth century. Before it was viewed in Lombardy, Leonardo’s cartoon produced in Florence also inspired several artists in that city. Traces of the work can be seen in Raphael’s Little Cowper Madonna and especially in his Belvedere Madonna in Vienna (fig. 65),9 as well as in Franciabigio’s Holy Family in the same museum (fig. 182), and even in an anonymous Florentine painting from the early sixteenth century that recently came up for sale (fig. 66). This third composition left a much larger artistic legacy than that of the two earlier cartoons. We shall see that this design was copied widely, as Leonardo made changes during the painting process. A study of the copies and variations after the Saint Anne projects confirms the sequence of the cartoons and positions this one, a preparatory work for the painting in the Louvre, as the artist’s final reflection on the theme. Leonardo set the scene in a landscape, as in the Burlington House Cartoon. The study of the underlying drawing on the Louvre painting has confirmed that the chain of mountains had been drawn at the same

time and using the same technique as for the figures. In addition, the 1922 sale catalogue for the RestaEsterházy cartoon describes a tree and mountains; peaks are clearly visible to the right of Saint Anne’s head in the old photographs. A copy drawn from this cartoon (cat. 27), confirms the composition of this environment. By this stage, the artist had therefore largely finalized his landscape, which is also very similar to that of the London cartoon. The final composition This last composition was, in fact, more a refinement than a transformation of the previous design. Leonardo had decided, once again, to reverse the direction of the figures, then to perfect the movement, accentuating the continuous rhythm of the lines. Comparing the reverse image of the Resta-Esterházy copy to copies of the 1501 cartoon reveals that Saint Anne is in the same position. But her daughter is now firmly seated on her lap, leaning slightly more toward the ground, in a pose that brings to mind that of the Apostle Philip in The Last Supper (fig. 24).10 The shoulders of the two mothers

Fig. 65 Raphael, Belvedere Madonna, c. 1505–06, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.


104  rediscovering Saint Anne

exploring the subject, from the london cartoon to the painting in the louvre   105  

28  Attributed to Bernardino Lanino (Vercelli [?], c. 1512–Vercelli 1581/83) Virgin and Child with Saint Anne c. 1543–50 [?] Black chalk, brown wash, heightened with white on five sheets of paper 127 5 86 cm Pinacoteca dell’Accademia Albertina, Turin, n. 348 Prov. Collection of the dukes of Savoy, until 1832; given by Charles Albert de Savoie-Carignan, king of Sardinia, to the Accademia Albertina delle Belle Arti in Turin in 1832. Bibl. Marks 1893, p. 189; Cook 1897, p. 384 (Gaudenzio Ferrari or his school); Baudi di Vesme 1897, p. 62; Seidlitz 1909, II, pp. 28–29 (copy); Ricci, in Louvre Catalogue 1913, p. 169; Shapley 1925, p. 96 (Leonardo imitator); Rinaldis 1926, p. 235 (copy); Rodolfo 1927, pp. 2–3; Milan 1939, p. 162 (16th-cent. Lombard master); Paris 1952, p. 44 (16th-cent. Lombard master); Galante Garrone, in Turin 1982, pp. 159–61, no. 25 (Bernardino Lanino [?]); Galante Garrone, in Vercelli 1985, pp. 68–70 (Lanino); Quazza 1986, p. 255 (Lanino); Sacchi 1986, pp. 126–28 (Lanino); Marani 1987, p. 240 (Lanino); Fiorio 1988, p. 77 (Lanino); Kemp and Barone 2010, p. 77 (Lanino). Exh. Milan 1939, p. 162; Turin 1982, no. 25.

27  Unknown 17th-century Italian Virgin and Child with Saint Anne c. 1680–90 Pen and brown ink 17.7 (21.8 with extensions at bottom) 5 14.8 cm Inscription at bottom: dal Cartone del S. Bonola di Leonardo da Vinci, il di cui quadro in S. Celso / di Milano. Département des Arts Graphiques, Musée du Louvre, Paris, INV. 2561 Prov. Collection of Charles Paul Jean Baptiste Bourgevin de Vialart, sire of Saint-Morys; seized in 1793. Bibl. Nicodemi 1939, p. 74 (Vinci); Marani 2008, pp. 163–64, no. 112 (unknown Leonardoesque or Tuscan from beginning of the 16th cent.).

An inscription at the bottom of this drawing reveals that the work was inspired from a cartoon

by Leonardo da Vinci that then belonged to the Milanese painter Giorgio Bonola. It is therefore a copy after the Resta-Esterházy cartoon (cat. 25). It also indicates that the painting was in the San Celso church in Milan. This painting (cat. 50) was often attributed to Leonardo in the seventeenth century, and its connection with the cartoon was well understood. Cardinal Federico Borromeo had already noted this in his deed of gift to the Ambrosiana in 1618, referring to the copy by Vespino; he had asked the artist to reproduce the cartoon, which he must have viewed as more fragile or more authentic (cat. 26). In his letter to Bellori, Resta also noted that the San Celso painting was derived from his drawing, but he attributed the painting to Salai, Leonardo’s student. The interest of this rapidly executed copy resides in the rendering of the landscape, which

is so difficult to see in the photographs of the Resta-Esterházy cartoon: it represents trees on each side, and to the right, a sort of valley leading to barely sketched mountains. The very strange, roughly hatched parallel lines on the left reproduce those visible on the photographs of the cartoon. This landscape is very similar to that of the San Celso painting. Pietro C. Marani has speculated, on a suggestion from Carlo Pedretti, that the writing may have been by Padre Resta.Yet the text refers to a period prior to the oratorian’s acquisition, as it notes that the work belonged to Bonola. The facture of the drawing seems contemporaneous with the inscriptions, in other words, from the 1680s–90s, when Bonola owned the work, after apparently acquiring it from Giovan Francesco Arese. VD

This work belongs to the exceptional collection of cartoons in the Accademia Albertina delle Belle Arti in Turin, donated to the institution by Charles Albert de Savoie-Carignan, king of Sardinia, in 1832. References to it can be found in old inventories of the Savoy Collection. In 1631, a mention to the property of Victor Amedeus I includes “a cartoon of the Madonna on the lap of Saint Anne, by Leonardo de Vinci.1 A new inventory, dated 1635, mentions three cartoons of Saint Anne: first, number 218, a copy of a Leonardo cartoon by Francesco del Cairo deemed “mediocre”; then, number 698, the cartoon credited to Leonardo and considered to be an “extremely exceptional work”; and finally, number 699; another “exquisitely drawn” copy by Gaudenzio Ferrari.2 In the late seventeenth century, the Savoy acquired a collection of cartoons by Gaudenzio Ferrari and his followers, including Bernardino Lanino from Vercelli. Among these works was a drawing “of the Blissful Virgin by Leonardo da Vinci painted in Milan in the Santo Celso church.”3 This is therefore a fourth cartoon of the Saint Anne, as indicated by the reference to the San Celso painting, which was, as we have seen, a workshop copy—not of the cartoon but of the Louvre painting as Leonardo was working on it (cat. 50). Unfortunately, in the nineteenth century, only one of these cartoons still existed, and it was donated to the Accademia Albertina in 1832. The Turin cartoon, like the Resta-Esterházy cartoon (cat. 25), accurately reproduces the proportions and contours of the first underlying drawing on the Louvre painting. Yet it is hard to assess its stylistic quality because of its poor condition. It was cut along the four edges, which eliminated sections of the figures. The surface is extremely worn in parts, and the materials are not coherent. The contours are therefore

imprecise. Furthermore, the work seems to have been thoroughly restored by Giovanni Volpato in 1842 to improve its appearance.4 Insofar as no perforation marks are visible on the contours, this certainly cannot be the original cartoon. The drapery seems to have been simplified and is schematic, and the anatomy is slightly rigid. These mediocre aspects suggest that the work can be indentified as the Gaugenzio copy mentioned in the 1635 inventory, the work by Cairo, or even the cartoon acquired with the collection

of works by Gaudenzio Ferrari and Bernardino Lanino in Vercelli. This final theory has now been accepted, although it remains speculative given the mediocre condition of the drawing. VD 1. Campori 1870, p. 98: “Cartone della Madonna in grembo a S.Anna, di Leonardo da Vinci.” 2. Baudi di Vesme 1897, p. 43, 62. I would like to thank Maria Beatrice Failla, who was kind enough to send me the section of her thesis dealing with the Saint Anne


104  rediscovering Saint Anne

exploring the subject, from the london cartoon to the painting in the louvre   105  

28  Attributed to Bernardino Lanino (Vercelli [?], c. 1512–Vercelli 1581/83) Virgin and Child with Saint Anne c. 1543–50 [?] Black chalk, brown wash, heightened with white on five sheets of paper 127 5 86 cm Pinacoteca dell’Accademia Albertina, Turin, n. 348 Prov. Collection of the dukes of Savoy, until 1832; given by Charles Albert de Savoie-Carignan, king of Sardinia, to the Accademia Albertina delle Belle Arti in Turin in 1832. Bibl. Marks 1893, p. 189; Cook 1897, p. 384 (Gaudenzio Ferrari or his school); Baudi di Vesme 1897, p. 62; Seidlitz 1909, II, pp. 28–29 (copy); Ricci, in Louvre Catalogue 1913, p. 169; Shapley 1925, p. 96 (Leonardo imitator); Rinaldis 1926, p. 235 (copy); Rodolfo 1927, pp. 2–3; Milan 1939, p. 162 (16th-cent. Lombard master); Paris 1952, p. 44 (16th-cent. Lombard master); Galante Garrone, in Turin 1982, pp. 159–61, no. 25 (Bernardino Lanino [?]); Galante Garrone, in Vercelli 1985, pp. 68–70 (Lanino); Quazza 1986, p. 255 (Lanino); Sacchi 1986, pp. 126–28 (Lanino); Marani 1987, p. 240 (Lanino); Fiorio 1988, p. 77 (Lanino); Kemp and Barone 2010, p. 77 (Lanino). Exh. Milan 1939, p. 162; Turin 1982, no. 25.

27  Unknown 17th-century Italian Virgin and Child with Saint Anne c. 1680–90 Pen and brown ink 17.7 (21.8 with extensions at bottom) 5 14.8 cm Inscription at bottom: dal Cartone del S. Bonola di Leonardo da Vinci, il di cui quadro in S. Celso / di Milano. Département des Arts Graphiques, Musée du Louvre, Paris, INV. 2561 Prov. Collection of Charles Paul Jean Baptiste Bourgevin de Vialart, sire of Saint-Morys; seized in 1793. Bibl. Nicodemi 1939, p. 74 (Vinci); Marani 2008, pp. 163–64, no. 112 (unknown Leonardoesque or Tuscan from beginning of the 16th cent.).

An inscription at the bottom of this drawing reveals that the work was inspired from a cartoon

by Leonardo da Vinci that then belonged to the Milanese painter Giorgio Bonola. It is therefore a copy after the Resta-Esterházy cartoon (cat. 25). It also indicates that the painting was in the San Celso church in Milan. This painting (cat. 50) was often attributed to Leonardo in the seventeenth century, and its connection with the cartoon was well understood. Cardinal Federico Borromeo had already noted this in his deed of gift to the Ambrosiana in 1618, referring to the copy by Vespino; he had asked the artist to reproduce the cartoon, which he must have viewed as more fragile or more authentic (cat. 26). In his letter to Bellori, Resta also noted that the San Celso painting was derived from his drawing, but he attributed the painting to Salai, Leonardo’s student. The interest of this rapidly executed copy resides in the rendering of the landscape, which

is so difficult to see in the photographs of the Resta-Esterházy cartoon: it represents trees on each side, and to the right, a sort of valley leading to barely sketched mountains. The very strange, roughly hatched parallel lines on the left reproduce those visible on the photographs of the cartoon. This landscape is very similar to that of the San Celso painting. Pietro C. Marani has speculated, on a suggestion from Carlo Pedretti, that the writing may have been by Padre Resta.Yet the text refers to a period prior to the oratorian’s acquisition, as it notes that the work belonged to Bonola. The facture of the drawing seems contemporaneous with the inscriptions, in other words, from the 1680s–90s, when Bonola owned the work, after apparently acquiring it from Giovan Francesco Arese. VD

This work belongs to the exceptional collection of cartoons in the Accademia Albertina delle Belle Arti in Turin, donated to the institution by Charles Albert de Savoie-Carignan, king of Sardinia, in 1832. References to it can be found in old inventories of the Savoy Collection. In 1631, a mention to the property of Victor Amedeus I includes “a cartoon of the Madonna on the lap of Saint Anne, by Leonardo de Vinci.1 A new inventory, dated 1635, mentions three cartoons of Saint Anne: first, number 218, a copy of a Leonardo cartoon by Francesco del Cairo deemed “mediocre”; then, number 698, the cartoon credited to Leonardo and considered to be an “extremely exceptional work”; and finally, number 699; another “exquisitely drawn” copy by Gaudenzio Ferrari.2 In the late seventeenth century, the Savoy acquired a collection of cartoons by Gaudenzio Ferrari and his followers, including Bernardino Lanino from Vercelli. Among these works was a drawing “of the Blissful Virgin by Leonardo da Vinci painted in Milan in the Santo Celso church.”3 This is therefore a fourth cartoon of the Saint Anne, as indicated by the reference to the San Celso painting, which was, as we have seen, a workshop copy—not of the cartoon but of the Louvre painting as Leonardo was working on it (cat. 50). Unfortunately, in the nineteenth century, only one of these cartoons still existed, and it was donated to the Accademia Albertina in 1832. The Turin cartoon, like the Resta-Esterházy cartoon (cat. 25), accurately reproduces the proportions and contours of the first underlying drawing on the Louvre painting. Yet it is hard to assess its stylistic quality because of its poor condition. It was cut along the four edges, which eliminated sections of the figures. The surface is extremely worn in parts, and the materials are not coherent. The contours are therefore

imprecise. Furthermore, the work seems to have been thoroughly restored by Giovanni Volpato in 1842 to improve its appearance.4 Insofar as no perforation marks are visible on the contours, this certainly cannot be the original cartoon. The drapery seems to have been simplified and is schematic, and the anatomy is slightly rigid. These mediocre aspects suggest that the work can be indentified as the Gaugenzio copy mentioned in the 1635 inventory, the work by Cairo, or even the cartoon acquired with the collection

of works by Gaudenzio Ferrari and Bernardino Lanino in Vercelli. This final theory has now been accepted, although it remains speculative given the mediocre condition of the drawing. VD 1. Campori 1870, p. 98: “Cartone della Madonna in grembo a S.Anna, di Leonardo da Vinci.” 2. Baudi di Vesme 1897, p. 43, 62. I would like to thank Maria Beatrice Failla, who was kind enough to send me the section of her thesis dealing with the Saint Anne


106  rediscovering Saint Anne

cartoons in the Turin collections (Maria Beatrice Failla, “Committenze, artisti, allestimenti alla corte di Vittorio Amedeo I di Savoia (1630–37),” doctoral thesis, University of Turin, 2005–06). 3. “uno della Beata Vergine di Leonardo da Vinci dipinto in Milano nella chiesa di Santo Celso.” Agosti 2001, p. 5, includes these words in a letter from Giovan Battista Natali to Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici. 4. Galante Garrone, in Turin 1982, p. 160.

29  Attributed to Bernardino Lanino (Vercelli [?], c. 1512–Vercelli 1581/83) Virgin and Child with Saint Anne c. 1543–50 [?] Wood 158 5 108 cm Pinacoteca Nazionale di Brera, Milan, reg. cron. 518 Prov. Sant’Alessandro College, Milan, until 1810; entered the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan in 1810. Bibl. Fumagalli 1811 (Lanino); Guillon 1836, pp. 32–33 (Lanino); Rigollot 1849, p. 99 (Lanino); Tarral 1850, p. 40 (Lanino); Clément 1861, pp. 218, 374 (Lanino); Houssaye 1869, p. 433; Heaton 1874, p. 231; Waagen 1875, p. 174 (Lanino); Blanc 1876, p. 37; Lübke 1878–79, p. 71; Gruyer 1887b, p. 99; Gruyer 1891, p. 41; Marks 1893, p. 189 (Andrea da Milano or Cesare Magni according to Bertini); MacLeod 1903, pp. 295–300 (attr. Lanino); DurandGréville 1904, p. 88 (copy); Seidlitz 1909, II, pp. 28, 274 n. 22 (Lanino); Ricci, in Louvre Catalogue 1913, p. 168 (attr. Lanino); Sirén 1928, I, p. 116 (Lanino); Suida 1929, p. 134; Bodmer 1931, p. 371 (Milanese imitator of Leonardo); Heydenreich 1933, p. 209 (school of Vinci); Modigliani, in Brera Catalogue 1935, p. 78 (Lanino [?]); Pedretti [1950–51] 1952, p. 23 (Leonardoesque school); Paris 1952, p. 43 (attr. Lanino); Griseri 1956, p. 79 (problematic); Pomilio and Ottino della Chiesa 1967, p. 109; Wasserman 1971, p. 322 (unknown); Pedretti 1973, pp. 130–31; Fiorio 1982, pp. 49, 58, 61 (Lanino); Galante Garrone, in Turin 1982, pp. 160–61 (Lanino); Budny 1983, p. 46 (Lanino); Galante Garrone, in Vercelli 1985, pp. 68–70 (Lanino); Quazza 1986, p. 255 (Lanino); Sacchi 1986, pp. 126–28 (Lanino); Marani 1987, pp. 238–41 (attr. Lanino); Fiorio 1988, p. 77 (Lanino); Marani, in Brera Catalogue 1989, pp. 77–79 (attr. Lanino); Fiorio 1998, p. 59 (Lanino); Zöllner 2003, p. 245; Kemp and Barone 2010, p. 77 (Lanino); Turner, in Göteborg 2010, p. 211.

This painting entered the Pinacoteca di Brera collection in 1810 from the Sant’Alessandro College in Milan. Unfortunately, nothing is known of its history prior to this date. In 1811, Ignazio Fumagalli mentioned the painting in his work, Scuola di Leonardo da Vinci, as part of his commentary on a more famous copy of the Saint Anne in the Milanese church of San Celso, which Prince Eugène de Beauharnais had just purchased (cat. 50). He was the first to attribute the painting to Bernardino Lanino, a name nearly all subsequent historians have accepted. Studies conducted of this artist, notably by Giovanni Romano, have revealed the strong influence of Leonardo on his work, starting in the 1540s. During travels to Milan, the painter discovered the compositions of the master, and made copies of his work, notably after the large

exploring the subject, from the london cartoon to the painting in the louvre   107  

Saint John the Baptist in a landscape, known from a workshop version in the Louvre, and after the Saint Anne. From the latter he retained the smiling figure of the Virgin, with her particular position between three-quarter and profile view, which would become one of his lietmotifs from this time on. It reappeared in the Saint Mary Magdalene on the altarpiece painted in 1543 for the San Paolo church in Vercelli (now in the National Gallery in London); in the Saint Mary Magdalene from Santa Marta in Milan (now in the Pinacoteca di Brera); in the Saint Catherine in the Santa Caterina church of San Nazzaro in Milan; and again in the Eve in the frescoes of the sanctuary of the Madonna dei Miracoli in Saronno. And it reappeared regularly until the end of his life, for example, in the figure of the Virgin in his Adoration of the Magi, dated 1553, in the Santa Croce church in Mortara, or in that of Saint Catherine in the central panel of the Polyptych of San Giorgio in Valduggia, dated 1564. Lanino changed certain motifs in these references. The figure’s sleeve is often pushed up to the shoulder, as in the Brera painting.Yet the artist was familiar with the original design of the drapery, since he had sometimes adopted it identically, as for example, for the Virgin in his Visitation, now in Berlin (cat. 71). The Brera Saint Anne demonstrates that he had studied Leonardo’s composition in the version of the cartoon used for the painting, probably from one of the copies that had been made of it, such as the Resta-Esterházy drawing. We can see characteristics of this design: the lamb’s leg touching Mary’s right foot, the Virgin’s cloak

raised off her back, and the opaque headdress of Saint Anne, an aspect that ages her in relation to her daughter. Also, Lanino reproduced this drawing in 1575, in a painting that used to be in the San Marco church in Vercelli and is now in a private collection (fig. 77). Lanino set the group in an improbable interior, enclosed by a wall partially covered with a green curtain, but with an earthen floor scattered with flowers. A fairly stereotypical landscape representing a valley with a river running through it is visible through an opening. This arrangement has been rightly compared to that of the Saint Paul painted by Lanino’s master, Gaudenzio Ferrari, in 1543, for the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan (now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Lyon). A similar background also appears in the first engraving after the Saint Anne (cat. 99), which, however, seems to have drawn more from the San Celso painting for the group of figures. The pictorial quality of the Brera painting shows a certain stiffness in the drawing, which could be explained by the process used to accurately reproduce the original composition. While this aspect has, at times, raised some reservations on the attribution, several formal details, which differ from Leonardo’s composition, but appear in works known to be by Lanino—the Virgin’s sleeve pushed upward and the strange opening in the rocks in the background, as well as the physiognomy of the figures and the background composition—lead us back to the art of the painter from Vercelli. VD

Fig. 71. Bernardino Lanino, Visitation, c. 1550–60, Gëmaldegalerie, Berlin.


106  rediscovering Saint Anne

cartoons in the Turin collections (Maria Beatrice Failla, “Committenze, artisti, allestimenti alla corte di Vittorio Amedeo I di Savoia (1630–37),” doctoral thesis, University of Turin, 2005–06). 3. “uno della Beata Vergine di Leonardo da Vinci dipinto in Milano nella chiesa di Santo Celso.” Agosti 2001, p. 5, includes these words in a letter from Giovan Battista Natali to Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici. 4. Galante Garrone, in Turin 1982, p. 160.

29  Attributed to Bernardino Lanino (Vercelli [?], c. 1512–Vercelli 1581/83) Virgin and Child with Saint Anne c. 1543–50 [?] Wood 158 5 108 cm Pinacoteca Nazionale di Brera, Milan, reg. cron. 518 Prov. Sant’Alessandro College, Milan, until 1810; entered the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan in 1810. Bibl. Fumagalli 1811 (Lanino); Guillon 1836, pp. 32–33 (Lanino); Rigollot 1849, p. 99 (Lanino); Tarral 1850, p. 40 (Lanino); Clément 1861, pp. 218, 374 (Lanino); Houssaye 1869, p. 433; Heaton 1874, p. 231; Waagen 1875, p. 174 (Lanino); Blanc 1876, p. 37; Lübke 1878–79, p. 71; Gruyer 1887b, p. 99; Gruyer 1891, p. 41; Marks 1893, p. 189 (Andrea da Milano or Cesare Magni according to Bertini); MacLeod 1903, pp. 295–300 (attr. Lanino); DurandGréville 1904, p. 88 (copy); Seidlitz 1909, II, pp. 28, 274 n. 22 (Lanino); Ricci, in Louvre Catalogue 1913, p. 168 (attr. Lanino); Sirén 1928, I, p. 116 (Lanino); Suida 1929, p. 134; Bodmer 1931, p. 371 (Milanese imitator of Leonardo); Heydenreich 1933, p. 209 (school of Vinci); Modigliani, in Brera Catalogue 1935, p. 78 (Lanino [?]); Pedretti [1950–51] 1952, p. 23 (Leonardoesque school); Paris 1952, p. 43 (attr. Lanino); Griseri 1956, p. 79 (problematic); Pomilio and Ottino della Chiesa 1967, p. 109; Wasserman 1971, p. 322 (unknown); Pedretti 1973, pp. 130–31; Fiorio 1982, pp. 49, 58, 61 (Lanino); Galante Garrone, in Turin 1982, pp. 160–61 (Lanino); Budny 1983, p. 46 (Lanino); Galante Garrone, in Vercelli 1985, pp. 68–70 (Lanino); Quazza 1986, p. 255 (Lanino); Sacchi 1986, pp. 126–28 (Lanino); Marani 1987, pp. 238–41 (attr. Lanino); Fiorio 1988, p. 77 (Lanino); Marani, in Brera Catalogue 1989, pp. 77–79 (attr. Lanino); Fiorio 1998, p. 59 (Lanino); Zöllner 2003, p. 245; Kemp and Barone 2010, p. 77 (Lanino); Turner, in Göteborg 2010, p. 211.

This painting entered the Pinacoteca di Brera collection in 1810 from the Sant’Alessandro College in Milan. Unfortunately, nothing is known of its history prior to this date. In 1811, Ignazio Fumagalli mentioned the painting in his work, Scuola di Leonardo da Vinci, as part of his commentary on a more famous copy of the Saint Anne in the Milanese church of San Celso, which Prince Eugène de Beauharnais had just purchased (cat. 50). He was the first to attribute the painting to Bernardino Lanino, a name nearly all subsequent historians have accepted. Studies conducted of this artist, notably by Giovanni Romano, have revealed the strong influence of Leonardo on his work, starting in the 1540s. During travels to Milan, the painter discovered the compositions of the master, and made copies of his work, notably after the large

exploring the subject, from the london cartoon to the painting in the louvre   107  

Saint John the Baptist in a landscape, known from a workshop version in the Louvre, and after the Saint Anne. From the latter he retained the smiling figure of the Virgin, with her particular position between three-quarter and profile view, which would become one of his lietmotifs from this time on. It reappeared in the Saint Mary Magdalene on the altarpiece painted in 1543 for the San Paolo church in Vercelli (now in the National Gallery in London); in the Saint Mary Magdalene from Santa Marta in Milan (now in the Pinacoteca di Brera); in the Saint Catherine in the Santa Caterina church of San Nazzaro in Milan; and again in the Eve in the frescoes of the sanctuary of the Madonna dei Miracoli in Saronno. And it reappeared regularly until the end of his life, for example, in the figure of the Virgin in his Adoration of the Magi, dated 1553, in the Santa Croce church in Mortara, or in that of Saint Catherine in the central panel of the Polyptych of San Giorgio in Valduggia, dated 1564. Lanino changed certain motifs in these references. The figure’s sleeve is often pushed up to the shoulder, as in the Brera painting.Yet the artist was familiar with the original design of the drapery, since he had sometimes adopted it identically, as for example, for the Virgin in his Visitation, now in Berlin (cat. 71). The Brera Saint Anne demonstrates that he had studied Leonardo’s composition in the version of the cartoon used for the painting, probably from one of the copies that had been made of it, such as the Resta-Esterházy drawing. We can see characteristics of this design: the lamb’s leg touching Mary’s right foot, the Virgin’s cloak

raised off her back, and the opaque headdress of Saint Anne, an aspect that ages her in relation to her daughter. Also, Lanino reproduced this drawing in 1575, in a painting that used to be in the San Marco church in Vercelli and is now in a private collection (fig. 77). Lanino set the group in an improbable interior, enclosed by a wall partially covered with a green curtain, but with an earthen floor scattered with flowers. A fairly stereotypical landscape representing a valley with a river running through it is visible through an opening. This arrangement has been rightly compared to that of the Saint Paul painted by Lanino’s master, Gaudenzio Ferrari, in 1543, for the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan (now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Lyon). A similar background also appears in the first engraving after the Saint Anne (cat. 99), which, however, seems to have drawn more from the San Celso painting for the group of figures. The pictorial quality of the Brera painting shows a certain stiffness in the drawing, which could be explained by the process used to accurately reproduce the original composition. While this aspect has, at times, raised some reservations on the attribution, several formal details, which differ from Leonardo’s composition, but appear in works known to be by Lanino—the Virgin’s sleeve pushed upward and the strange opening in the rocks in the background, as well as the physiognomy of the figures and the background composition—lead us back to the art of the painter from Vercelli. VD

Fig. 71. Bernardino Lanino, Visitation, c. 1550–60, Gëmaldegalerie, Berlin.


Fig. 86 [cat. 26] Andrea Bianchi, known as Vespino Virgin and Child with St. Anne c. 1611–18 Oil on canvas, 142 5 109 cm Pinacoteca, Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan Fig. 83 Pietro Bacchi, called Pietro da Bagnara Virgin and Child with many Saints c. 1550–60 Santa Maria Nuova, Asti

Fig. 84 After Leonardo da Vinci Virgin and Child with St. Anne Second half of the 16th century [?] Wood, 90 5 68.5 cm Private collection, Switzerland Fig. 85 After Leonardo da Vinci The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and the Infant John the Baptist Second half of the 16th century [?] 96.5 5 68.5 cm Christie’s, South Kensington, London, February 16, 1989, no. 151

Fig. 88 After Leonardo da Vinci Virgin and Child with St. Anne 17th or 18th century [?] Black chalk, white highlights, 42.4 5 33 cm Graphische Sammlungen, Weimar

Fig. 87 [cat. 27] Unknown 17th-century Italian Virgin and Child with St. Anne c. 1680–90 Pen and brown ink, 17.7 5 14.8 cm Département des Arts graphiques, Musée du Louvre, Paris


Fig. 86 [cat. 26] Andrea Bianchi, known as Vespino Virgin and Child with St. Anne c. 1611–18 Oil on canvas, 142 5 109 cm Pinacoteca, Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan Fig. 83 Pietro Bacchi, called Pietro da Bagnara Virgin and Child with many Saints c. 1550–60 Santa Maria Nuova, Asti

Fig. 84 After Leonardo da Vinci Virgin and Child with St. Anne Second half of the 16th century [?] Wood, 90 5 68.5 cm Private collection, Switzerland Fig. 85 After Leonardo da Vinci The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and the Infant John the Baptist Second half of the 16th century [?] 96.5 5 68.5 cm Christie’s, South Kensington, London, February 16, 1989, no. 151

Fig. 88 After Leonardo da Vinci Virgin and Child with St. Anne 17th or 18th century [?] Black chalk, white highlights, 42.4 5 33 cm Graphische Sammlungen, Weimar

Fig. 87 [cat. 27] Unknown 17th-century Italian Virgin and Child with St. Anne c. 1680–90 Pen and brown ink, 17.7 5 14.8 cm Département des Arts graphiques, Musée du Louvre, Paris


164  rediscovering Saint Anne

The Pictorial Execution: an Incessant Quest for Perfection that Led to Incompletion   165  

the two largest copies (cats. 50 and 52) contained figures of the same proportions as those in the original, although the three panels are of slightly different height. The Los Angeles version (cat. 50), which is 178.5 cm in height, is the tallest of the panels and the upper and lower edges are bare, which proves that it has retained its original dimensions. Indeed, the other two copies were no doubt originally of a similar height. The painting held in the private collection (cat. 52) measures 160 cm, but it has obviously been trimmed by at least 6 to 7 cm on its lower edge. Moreover, three copies of this painting (figs.  133 to 135) measure around 180 cm in height, which is similar to that of the American painting. The Louvre panel measures 168.5 cm, but, in the oldest inventory of the royal collection compiled by Charles Le Brun, the height is recorded as being 176 cm. It is therefore highly likely that the original, like its copies, was of a similar size, around 178 cm in height and around 114–15 cm in width, and that it was trimmed during the eighteenth century.3 Salai or Melzi? Even though the most admirable copies (cats. 50, 52, and 56) do not capture the extraordinary and indeed inimitable pictorial quality of the original, they are nevertheless very finely worked and were often executed using techniques and materials employed by the master. In the large paintings from Los Angeles and the private collection, the drapery of the Virgin’s blue mantle has been prepared with an underlayer of red lake and there is abundant use of lapis lazuli, as in the original. The presence of this precious and expensive pigment is a measure of the status of these very fine works, which may have been commissioned from Leonardo himself and, although they were produced by his workshop, they bore the stamp of his prestige. The inventory compiled after the death of Salai, who was one of Leonardo’s favorite pupils, mentions a copy that was probably similar—even though it is not one of the two large versions (cats. 50 and 52)— which was estimated to be worth the considerable sum of 100 écus (cat. 96). The work’s value may have been based in part on the cost of the materials, and most certainly the reputation of the master, who had conceived its composition. Moreover, in the absence of the original, which was taken by Leonardo to France in 1516, these works—and particularly the Hammer Museum painting, which had been exhibited in the Church of Santa Maria presso San Celso in Milan 1. The other later copies were not produced by members of Leonardo’s workshop. 2. See the texts by Sue Ann Chui and Alan Phenix in entry no. 50, p. 167, the text by Bruno Mottin in entry no. 52, p. 174, and that of Cecilia Frosinini in

entry no. 56, p. 191. 3. The widths of the two copies are 114 and 115 cm respectively; the original measures 113 cm, but its edges were planed down during the enlargement process, so it is difficult to determine the exact

since at least 1635 and has sometimes been considered as an autograph work—became the new models for the numerous copies produced during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (cat. 50 and figs. 121 to 128). Our knowledge of the workshop’s members and its modus operandi during this period is unfortunately too limited for us to be able to attribute these paintings with any certainty. In 1508, Giovanni Giacomo di Pietro Caprotti da Oreno, known as Salai, was no doubt the longest serving apprentice. Born around 1480, he had been entrusted at the age of ten to Leonardo,4 in whose workshop he learned the art of painting. In 1505, he was sufficiently experienced to be sent by his master to advise the famous Perugino on the painting that he was then executing for Isabella d’Este, and in which he even corrected certain details.5 The other conspicuous figure in the workshop was Francesco Melzi, whom the artist met in Milan in 1506–07. Melzi was fifteen at the time and joined Leonardo’s household when the master returned to Milan in the summer of 1508. Unfortunately, there is still little known about these two painters’ artistic activities. Only one work—a Christ signed and dated 1511, which was sold at auction in 2007 (fig. 112)—is known to be an autograph work by Salai, who died in 1524. The rest of his “oeuvre” only consists of works that have in the past been attributed to him but without any real justification.6 Melzi is the author of the very fine Vertumnus and Pomona in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (fig. 35), which still bore his signature in Greek letters in the eighteenth century, according to an account by Mariette when the painting was in the Saint-Simon Collection,7 and which in fact appears to date from Leonardo’s second Milanese period (see cat. 45). Also attributed to him is the Hermitage Flora, which does in fact bear certain similarities to the Berlin painting. However, this information does not provide us with sufficient reference points to establish the attribution— which remains difficult—of the copies, which endeavored to imitate the style of the original as closely as possible. This exhibition has at least enabled us to identify certain similarities in the pictorial execution of the works, particularly between the Los Angeles painting and Mona Lisa of the Prado Museum (cat. 77). It would be necessary to conduct a systematic study of the workshop versions of the master’s other compositions, in order to better categorize them and make more detailed comparisons with the extremely rare originals. VD original dimensions, which were probably close to 114–15 cm. 4. Institut de France, Paris, Manuscript C, fol. 15 v. 5. Letter from Luigi Ciocca to Isabella d’Este dated January 22, 1505, Mantua, Archivio Gonzaga, serie E,

busta 1105, n. 343. This work was the Combat of Love and Chastity, painted by Perugino for Isabella d’Este’s studiolo; it is now held in the Musée du Louvre. 6. See Shell 1998. 7. Mariette 1856, pp. 378–79.

­­Fig. 112 Salai, Christ, Sotheby’s, New York, January 25, 2007, no. 34, present location unknown.


164  rediscovering Saint Anne

The Pictorial Execution: an Incessant Quest for Perfection that Led to Incompletion   165  

the two largest copies (cats. 50 and 52) contained figures of the same proportions as those in the original, although the three panels are of slightly different height. The Los Angeles version (cat. 50), which is 178.5 cm in height, is the tallest of the panels and the upper and lower edges are bare, which proves that it has retained its original dimensions. Indeed, the other two copies were no doubt originally of a similar height. The painting held in the private collection (cat. 52) measures 160 cm, but it has obviously been trimmed by at least 6 to 7 cm on its lower edge. Moreover, three copies of this painting (figs.  133 to 135) measure around 180 cm in height, which is similar to that of the American painting. The Louvre panel measures 168.5 cm, but, in the oldest inventory of the royal collection compiled by Charles Le Brun, the height is recorded as being 176 cm. It is therefore highly likely that the original, like its copies, was of a similar size, around 178 cm in height and around 114–15 cm in width, and that it was trimmed during the eighteenth century.3 Salai or Melzi? Even though the most admirable copies (cats. 50, 52, and 56) do not capture the extraordinary and indeed inimitable pictorial quality of the original, they are nevertheless very finely worked and were often executed using techniques and materials employed by the master. In the large paintings from Los Angeles and the private collection, the drapery of the Virgin’s blue mantle has been prepared with an underlayer of red lake and there is abundant use of lapis lazuli, as in the original. The presence of this precious and expensive pigment is a measure of the status of these very fine works, which may have been commissioned from Leonardo himself and, although they were produced by his workshop, they bore the stamp of his prestige. The inventory compiled after the death of Salai, who was one of Leonardo’s favorite pupils, mentions a copy that was probably similar—even though it is not one of the two large versions (cats. 50 and 52)— which was estimated to be worth the considerable sum of 100 écus (cat. 96). The work’s value may have been based in part on the cost of the materials, and most certainly the reputation of the master, who had conceived its composition. Moreover, in the absence of the original, which was taken by Leonardo to France in 1516, these works—and particularly the Hammer Museum painting, which had been exhibited in the Church of Santa Maria presso San Celso in Milan 1. The other later copies were not produced by members of Leonardo’s workshop. 2. See the texts by Sue Ann Chui and Alan Phenix in entry no. 50, p. 167, the text by Bruno Mottin in entry no. 52, p. 174, and that of Cecilia Frosinini in

entry no. 56, p. 191. 3. The widths of the two copies are 114 and 115 cm respectively; the original measures 113 cm, but its edges were planed down during the enlargement process, so it is difficult to determine the exact

since at least 1635 and has sometimes been considered as an autograph work—became the new models for the numerous copies produced during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (cat. 50 and figs. 121 to 128). Our knowledge of the workshop’s members and its modus operandi during this period is unfortunately too limited for us to be able to attribute these paintings with any certainty. In 1508, Giovanni Giacomo di Pietro Caprotti da Oreno, known as Salai, was no doubt the longest serving apprentice. Born around 1480, he had been entrusted at the age of ten to Leonardo,4 in whose workshop he learned the art of painting. In 1505, he was sufficiently experienced to be sent by his master to advise the famous Perugino on the painting that he was then executing for Isabella d’Este, and in which he even corrected certain details.5 The other conspicuous figure in the workshop was Francesco Melzi, whom the artist met in Milan in 1506–07. Melzi was fifteen at the time and joined Leonardo’s household when the master returned to Milan in the summer of 1508. Unfortunately, there is still little known about these two painters’ artistic activities. Only one work—a Christ signed and dated 1511, which was sold at auction in 2007 (fig. 112)—is known to be an autograph work by Salai, who died in 1524. The rest of his “oeuvre” only consists of works that have in the past been attributed to him but without any real justification.6 Melzi is the author of the very fine Vertumnus and Pomona in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (fig. 35), which still bore his signature in Greek letters in the eighteenth century, according to an account by Mariette when the painting was in the Saint-Simon Collection,7 and which in fact appears to date from Leonardo’s second Milanese period (see cat. 45). Also attributed to him is the Hermitage Flora, which does in fact bear certain similarities to the Berlin painting. However, this information does not provide us with sufficient reference points to establish the attribution— which remains difficult—of the copies, which endeavored to imitate the style of the original as closely as possible. This exhibition has at least enabled us to identify certain similarities in the pictorial execution of the works, particularly between the Los Angeles painting and Mona Lisa of the Prado Museum (cat. 77). It would be necessary to conduct a systematic study of the workshop versions of the master’s other compositions, in order to better categorize them and make more detailed comparisons with the extremely rare originals. VD original dimensions, which were probably close to 114–15 cm. 4. Institut de France, Paris, Manuscript C, fol. 15 v. 5. Letter from Luigi Ciocca to Isabella d’Este dated January 22, 1505, Mantua, Archivio Gonzaga, serie E,

busta 1105, n. 343. This work was the Combat of Love and Chastity, painted by Perugino for Isabella d’Este’s studiolo; it is now held in the Musée du Louvre. 6. See Shell 1998. 7. Mariette 1856, pp. 378–79.

­­Fig. 112 Salai, Christ, Sotheby’s, New York, January 25, 2007, no. 34, present location unknown.


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Fig. 114. Infrared reflectogram.

The Pictorial Execution: an Incessant Quest for Perfection that Led to Incompletion   169  


168  rediscovering Saint Anne

Fig. 114. Infrared reflectogram.

The Pictorial Execution: an Incessant Quest for Perfection that Led to Incompletion   169  


Emulation and Imitation in Florence

Traces of Saint Anne

S

ixteenth-century sources all indicate that Leonardo began thinking about the theme of Saint Anne with the Virgin and Christ Child when in Florence during the very first years of the Cinquecento. Florentine accounts in the Libro di Antonio Billi (fig. 211), by the Anonimo Magliabechiano (fig. 212) and by Vasari (cat. 121) mention only a cartoon drawn by the master, which was later sent to France. However, a note written in 1503 by Agostino Vespucci (cat. 30) proves that the artist had already sketched out his painting. According to the reconstruction of the Saint Anne project presented in this catalogue, it would seem that Florentines were able to admire his various compositions on the subject, including the definitive solution, which he applied in oils on the panel held in the Louvre. For Tuscan artists, these inventions would no doubt have represented the culmination of the experiments carried out at the end of the Quattrocento. The Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Francesco Granacci, which

can be dated to around the mid-1490s (fig. 178), and the Manchester Madonna by the young Michelangelo (The National Gallery, London) do effectively display a mode of construction that Leonardo monumentalized and made both more natural and more complex. I have already mentioned the influence of the Saint Anne on Michelangelo’s graphic work via the Oxford drawing (fig. 26), which reproduces his memories of the Burlington House Cartoon and possibly of the one described in 1501 by Fra Pietro. Some of his sculptures (cat. 85 and fig. 185), and of course the Doni Tondo in the Uffizi (fig. 179), seem also to have been conceived in a spirit of competition with regard to the older artist. In this last work he attempted to find his own solution to the difficulties of representing a compact group of figures whose movements form a continuous whole and whose gazes meet. The influence of Leonardo’s compositions on the work of the young Raphael is even more marked. He produced both fairly close variants, such as the Holy

Fig. 178 Francesco Granacci, The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, c. 1494–95, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. Fig. 179 Michelangelo, The Holy Family with St. John the Baptist, known as the Doni Tondo, c. 1504–06, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.


Emulation and Imitation in Florence

Traces of Saint Anne

S

ixteenth-century sources all indicate that Leonardo began thinking about the theme of Saint Anne with the Virgin and Christ Child when in Florence during the very first years of the Cinquecento. Florentine accounts in the Libro di Antonio Billi (fig. 211), by the Anonimo Magliabechiano (fig. 212) and by Vasari (cat. 121) mention only a cartoon drawn by the master, which was later sent to France. However, a note written in 1503 by Agostino Vespucci (cat. 30) proves that the artist had already sketched out his painting. According to the reconstruction of the Saint Anne project presented in this catalogue, it would seem that Florentines were able to admire his various compositions on the subject, including the definitive solution, which he applied in oils on the panel held in the Louvre. For Tuscan artists, these inventions would no doubt have represented the culmination of the experiments carried out at the end of the Quattrocento. The Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Francesco Granacci, which

can be dated to around the mid-1490s (fig. 178), and the Manchester Madonna by the young Michelangelo (The National Gallery, London) do effectively display a mode of construction that Leonardo monumentalized and made both more natural and more complex. I have already mentioned the influence of the Saint Anne on Michelangelo’s graphic work via the Oxford drawing (fig. 26), which reproduces his memories of the Burlington House Cartoon and possibly of the one described in 1501 by Fra Pietro. Some of his sculptures (cat. 85 and fig. 185), and of course the Doni Tondo in the Uffizi (fig. 179), seem also to have been conceived in a spirit of competition with regard to the older artist. In this last work he attempted to find his own solution to the difficulties of representing a compact group of figures whose movements form a continuous whole and whose gazes meet. The influence of Leonardo’s compositions on the work of the young Raphael is even more marked. He produced both fairly close variants, such as the Holy

Fig. 178 Francesco Granacci, The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, c. 1494–95, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin. Fig. 179 Michelangelo, The Holy Family with St. John the Baptist, known as the Doni Tondo, c. 1504–06, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.


260

traces of saint anne

85 Michelangelo, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known as (Caprese 1475–Rome, 1564) Virgin and Child and the Young John the Baptist, known as the Pitti Tondo 1503–1504 Bas-relief, marble 82 5 85.5 cm Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Fiorentino, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, Inv. n. 1068 (1825) Prov. Executed by Michelangelo for Bartolomeo Pitti, then given by his son, Fra Miniato Pitti de Monte Oliveto, to Luigi Guicciardini; Varchi sees the tondo at the home of Pietro Guicciardini, Luigi’s nephew; bought by the Florence gallery, 1823; placed in the Museo del Bargello, 1873. Bibl. Vasari [1550] 1991, II, p. 888; Vasari [1550 and 1568] 1966–1987, VI, pp. 21–22; Wölfflin 1891, p. 43; Thode 1908–13, I, p. 114; Justi 1909, p. 184; Weinberger 1967, I, pp. 100–23; Tolnay 1968a, p. 354; Tolnay 1969, I, pp. 101–02, cat. VIII; Baldini 1973, no. 17; Hartt 1976, pp. 124–29; Barocchi 1982, pp. 3–13; Echinger-Maurach 1998, pp. 274–310; Barolsky 2003.

According to Vasari, in 1504, having just completed his David (Galleria dell’Accademia,

emulation and imitation in florence

Florence) and while in the process of preparing the fresco of The Battle of Cascina—two works commissioned by the gonfaloniere of the new Florentine Republic, Piero Soderini— Michelangelo executed two tondi, one for Bartolomeo Pitti and the other for Taddeo Taddei.1 Although he came from an important Florentine banking family who were allies and then rivals of the Medici, not much research has been done on Bartolomeo Pitti. The only element shedding light on how he came to know Michelangelo and, perhaps, commissioned the tondo is a document found by Michael Hirst.2 On July 1, 1503, Bartolomeo entered the fabrica of Florence cathedral as one of the operai. This was less than a month after Michelangelo first showed his almost finished David. The importance to Michelangelo’s career of the Pitti Tondo, a work intended for private devotions, was a late discovery.3 Together with the Bruges Madonna (Notre-Dame, Bruges, 1504), the Taddei Tondo (fig. 185) and the Doni Tondo (fig. 179), it effectively constitutes part of the artist’s response to Leonardo’s cartoon and work on the Saint Anne theme. Michelangelo probably used the tondo in order to make his work closer to painting.4 This circular bas-relief form, which originated in

Fig. 185. Michelangelo, Virgin and Child with the Young St. John, known as the Taddei Tondo, c. 1503–04, The Royal Academy, London.

Quattrocento Florence, was traditionally employed for private uses. However, according to Vasari, Michelangelo “roughed out but left unfinished” both the Pitti Tondo and the Taddei Tondo. He left them in an incomplete state called non finito,5 which art historians have compared to Leonardo’s art of sfumato in painting. Whether intentional or not, Michelangelo’s non finito enhances the unity of the figures with their ground and gives a strong impression of movement, both these effects being due to the vibration of the light over the roughly worked surface of the stone. As a painter, however, Michelangelo ignored Leonardo’s technique in favor of the kind of sculptural modeling and linear contours found in the Doni Tondo. For the Pitti Tondo, Michelangelo represented a Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John. The theme of Virgin with a book was a familiar one in Florence. As in the Doni Tondo, which he painted later, and in several drawings, Michelangelo relegates the young Saint John to the background of the scene.6 For Charles de Tolnay, the only known study for this tondo is the small drawing in Chantilly (c. 1503, Musée Condé, Chantilly).7 However, the posture of the Virgin is similar to that of the Virgin in drawing INV. 6858 at the Louvre (cat. 86).8 According to Tolnay, Michelangelo used the same gradine for the Virgin’s head, bust and drapery, for the whole of Christ’s body and for the young Saint John, but worked with a broader gradine for part of the Virgin’s right sleeve. To obtain the parallel lines to the left of the Virgin and the right of the Infant, he used a chisel, leaving the marble around the Virgin’s head roughly worked. While the prototype for Michelangelo’s Taddei Tondo is to be found in Donatello’s Virgins in sculpted profile,9 for the Pitti Tondo he used the pyramidal composition and monumentality of the figures in Leonardo’s work. The Virgin here sits at the center of the composition, her body in profile, her face in half-profile. On her lap is an open book on which the Child is resting his elbow. Her head is in high relief and rises above the upper edge of the tondo, while her very fine, rectilinear facial features recall those of the David and Saint Pius (c. 1504, cathedral, Piccolomini Chapel, Siena). Her androgynous features, her clothes, and her hair evoke the antique statuary, teste ideali (“ideal heads”) and sibyls of the Sistine Chapel,10 which heightens the premonitory quality of the scene and the importance of the figure of the Virgin.11 According to Tolnay, her posture and drapery are similar to those of the Prudence by Jacopo della Quercia (Fonte Gaia, Siena).12 The figure of Faith sculpted by Donatello for the baptistery in Siena was another model for the Virgin’s face and hair. The ruched drapery round the small of her back may come from the Virgin in Leonardo’s Saint Anne. Unlike other Madonnas with the book, such as Raphael’s La Belle Jardinière (cat. 88), this Virgin is not preventing the child from reading. His

261


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traces of saint anne

85 Michelangelo, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known as (Caprese 1475–Rome, 1564) Virgin and Child and the Young John the Baptist, known as the Pitti Tondo 1503–1504 Bas-relief, marble 82 5 85.5 cm Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Fiorentino, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, Inv. n. 1068 (1825) Prov. Executed by Michelangelo for Bartolomeo Pitti, then given by his son, Fra Miniato Pitti de Monte Oliveto, to Luigi Guicciardini; Varchi sees the tondo at the home of Pietro Guicciardini, Luigi’s nephew; bought by the Florence gallery, 1823; placed in the Museo del Bargello, 1873. Bibl. Vasari [1550] 1991, II, p. 888; Vasari [1550 and 1568] 1966–1987, VI, pp. 21–22; Wölfflin 1891, p. 43; Thode 1908–13, I, p. 114; Justi 1909, p. 184; Weinberger 1967, I, pp. 100–23; Tolnay 1968a, p. 354; Tolnay 1969, I, pp. 101–02, cat. VIII; Baldini 1973, no. 17; Hartt 1976, pp. 124–29; Barocchi 1982, pp. 3–13; Echinger-Maurach 1998, pp. 274–310; Barolsky 2003.

According to Vasari, in 1504, having just completed his David (Galleria dell’Accademia,

emulation and imitation in florence

Florence) and while in the process of preparing the fresco of The Battle of Cascina—two works commissioned by the gonfaloniere of the new Florentine Republic, Piero Soderini— Michelangelo executed two tondi, one for Bartolomeo Pitti and the other for Taddeo Taddei.1 Although he came from an important Florentine banking family who were allies and then rivals of the Medici, not much research has been done on Bartolomeo Pitti. The only element shedding light on how he came to know Michelangelo and, perhaps, commissioned the tondo is a document found by Michael Hirst.2 On July 1, 1503, Bartolomeo entered the fabrica of Florence cathedral as one of the operai. This was less than a month after Michelangelo first showed his almost finished David. The importance to Michelangelo’s career of the Pitti Tondo, a work intended for private devotions, was a late discovery.3 Together with the Bruges Madonna (Notre-Dame, Bruges, 1504), the Taddei Tondo (fig. 185) and the Doni Tondo (fig. 179), it effectively constitutes part of the artist’s response to Leonardo’s cartoon and work on the Saint Anne theme. Michelangelo probably used the tondo in order to make his work closer to painting.4 This circular bas-relief form, which originated in

Fig. 185. Michelangelo, Virgin and Child with the Young St. John, known as the Taddei Tondo, c. 1503–04, The Royal Academy, London.

Quattrocento Florence, was traditionally employed for private uses. However, according to Vasari, Michelangelo “roughed out but left unfinished” both the Pitti Tondo and the Taddei Tondo. He left them in an incomplete state called non finito,5 which art historians have compared to Leonardo’s art of sfumato in painting. Whether intentional or not, Michelangelo’s non finito enhances the unity of the figures with their ground and gives a strong impression of movement, both these effects being due to the vibration of the light over the roughly worked surface of the stone. As a painter, however, Michelangelo ignored Leonardo’s technique in favor of the kind of sculptural modeling and linear contours found in the Doni Tondo. For the Pitti Tondo, Michelangelo represented a Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John. The theme of Virgin with a book was a familiar one in Florence. As in the Doni Tondo, which he painted later, and in several drawings, Michelangelo relegates the young Saint John to the background of the scene.6 For Charles de Tolnay, the only known study for this tondo is the small drawing in Chantilly (c. 1503, Musée Condé, Chantilly).7 However, the posture of the Virgin is similar to that of the Virgin in drawing INV. 6858 at the Louvre (cat. 86).8 According to Tolnay, Michelangelo used the same gradine for the Virgin’s head, bust and drapery, for the whole of Christ’s body and for the young Saint John, but worked with a broader gradine for part of the Virgin’s right sleeve. To obtain the parallel lines to the left of the Virgin and the right of the Infant, he used a chisel, leaving the marble around the Virgin’s head roughly worked. While the prototype for Michelangelo’s Taddei Tondo is to be found in Donatello’s Virgins in sculpted profile,9 for the Pitti Tondo he used the pyramidal composition and monumentality of the figures in Leonardo’s work. The Virgin here sits at the center of the composition, her body in profile, her face in half-profile. On her lap is an open book on which the Child is resting his elbow. Her head is in high relief and rises above the upper edge of the tondo, while her very fine, rectilinear facial features recall those of the David and Saint Pius (c. 1504, cathedral, Piccolomini Chapel, Siena). Her androgynous features, her clothes, and her hair evoke the antique statuary, teste ideali (“ideal heads”) and sibyls of the Sistine Chapel,10 which heightens the premonitory quality of the scene and the importance of the figure of the Virgin.11 According to Tolnay, her posture and drapery are similar to those of the Prudence by Jacopo della Quercia (Fonte Gaia, Siena).12 The figure of Faith sculpted by Donatello for the baptistery in Siena was another model for the Virgin’s face and hair. The ruched drapery round the small of her back may come from the Virgin in Leonardo’s Saint Anne. Unlike other Madonnas with the book, such as Raphael’s La Belle Jardinière (cat. 88), this Virgin is not preventing the child from reading. His

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Saint Anne  

'The Virgin and Child with St. Anne' is, with the Battle of Anghiari, Leonardo's most ambitious project of his later years. This masterpiece...

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