‘As Eden was the Paradise of Creation, Mary is the Paradise of the Incarnation, and in her, as a Garden were celebrated the first nuptials of God and man’ – Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

Born in 1452, Leonardo da Vinci (literally of Vinci, a region near Florence, Italy) had an uninhibited search for knowledge. A multifaceted genius and a blue-sky thinker, his interest in architecture, engineering, sculpting, mathematics, science, anatomy, biology, astronomy, etc. earned him the epithet ‘The Renaissance Man’. His absolute thirst for unending knowledge and his infinite ‘whys’ produced several substantial cross-disciplinary connections that unraveled the science of art and the art of science. To date, most of his works continue to stir controversies, theories, feuds, and fantasies.

One such masterpiece was executed by this creative genius during his stay in Milan. Titled ‘The Virgin of the Rocks’ the painting was commissioned by a confraternity devoted to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. The painting was meant to be the main altarpiece in their newly built chapel in the Church of San Francesco Grande, Milan. However, when the patrons refused to pay what the artist considered a fair price, Leonardo sold the painting to another customer.

A few years later the confraternity obliged and persuaded the artist to paint a second version. Today the former is on display at the Louvre, Paris while the latter now hangs in the National Gallery, London. The two versions are almost identical but for the angel, who in the Paris version gazes at the viewer while pointing towards St. John the Baptist. In this article, we will consider the painting at the National Gallery.

At first sight, we are captivated by the Blessed Virgin who dominates the center of the scene. The Blessed Mother is seated not on a royal throne but the throne of nature. This depiction of the Virgin seated on the ground was popularly recognized as ‘The Madonna of Humility.’ Her gestures are incredibly beautiful. Dressed in blue, the Blessed Mother tilts her head to the right, wrapping her right arm around the little Baptist, almost directing him towards Christ Child.

Spread the love ♥
Continue Reading