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The Virgin of the Rocks (The Virgin with the Infant Saint John adoring the Infant Christ accompanied by an Angel)

Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

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Leonardo’s mysterious painting shows the Virgin Mary with Saint John the Baptist, Christ’s cousin, and an angel. All kneel to adore the infant Christ, who in turn raises his hand to bless them. They are crowded in a grotto overhung with rocks and dense with vegetation. The painting was part of a large, elaborate altarpiece made for the church of San Francesco Grande, Milan to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. It replaced a similar picture Leonardo made earlier (now in the Louvre, Paris). Leonardo has used innovative painting techniques to give the impression that the figures are emerging from the darkness of this shaded setting. For example, he has blurred the edges of their forms to indicate the shadows that envelop them.

The National Gallery, London

London

Title

The Virgin of the Rocks (The Virgin with the Infant Saint John adoring the Infant Christ accompanied by an Angel)

Date

about 1491-1508

Medium

Oil on wood

Measurements

H 189.5 x W 120 cm

Accession number

NG1093

Acquisition method

Bought, 1880

Work type

Painting

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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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