Madonna Benois, Leonardo da Vinci

Madonna Benois, Leonardo da Vinci
Madonna Benois, Leonardo da Vinci

The first works that a painter makes alone, away from his teacher's workshop, are of great importance since in them one can appreciate the first artistic intentions of the painter, as well as his own most personal style and unique to him. In this sense, the work that we are analyzing here is somewhat special since it is considered to be one of the first paintings that Leonardo da Vinci made after leaving Verrochio's workshop and the work has an already very personal style of the Renaissance genius that not all painters who have just left their master's workshop are capable of displaying.


The Benois Madonna, also known as The Madonna with the Flower, is an exceptional work currently on display at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg although it is not actually knows for sure how it arrived in Russia, experts say that perhaps the piece had been taken from Italy to Russia by the artist Alexander Korsakov at the end of the 18th century; for a long time the painting was considered lost since there was no news of it, but at the beginning of the 20th century it reappeared in an exhibition organized by the architect Leon Benois.

There was also much discussion about the authorship of the piece and not all historians agreed that the piece belonged to Leonardo -partly because it was made in oil and this material is not typical of the first stage of productionby the artist- however, some preparatory drawings dating from the same date as the canvas, around the year 1478, lead us to suppose that it really was a painting by Leonardo.

In the foreground and occupying almost the entire scene, we can see theVirgin Mary playing entertainingly with herson in her arms. She is little more than a child, with a chubby, smiling face that is configured as an inverted triangle, the same scheme that Leonardo will later use in Virgin of the Rocks. Her carefree and smiling attitude is contrasted with the serious and meditative gesture of the child who concentrates on the flower that her mother shows him

The four petals of the flower are an allusion to the cross, while the transparent brooch that María wears on her dress alludes to her virginity.

In the background, a twin window breaks the darkness of the room showing a trend towards chiaroscuro that was so fashionable at the time.

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