Friday, August 15, 2008

The Madonna and Child with Nature`s Masterpiece

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Study for the Virgin and Child with a Cat , 1478-81
Pen and ink and wash over stylus
130.000 mm x 94.000 mm
The British Museum, London

The seated Virgin is holding the Christ Child on her right knee. She is looking at her son. The Child in turn is looking at and grasps a cat which struggles to escape. Note the scene is dynamic not static.

Leonardo made a number of drawings on this theme.

He referred to the cat as "Nature's Masterpiece."

However there has not been discovered a painting by Leonardo on this theme.

Other works which have the Madonna with a Cat are: Guilio Romano`s Madonna of the Cat (c. 1523), Rembrandt van Rijn The Virgin and Child with the Cat and Snake (1654 ); Jan Vermeyen The Holy Family (16th cent.), and Charles Le Brun The Infant Jesus Asleep (1655)

Cats were often used as emblems of sight or liberty, or to create a domestic scene.

Frequently the artist, however, just seemed to like cats.

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