Painter and Sculptor of Florence

User Comments:

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2002-06-04
    Comments: There are two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks, one (the earlier) in the Louvre, Paris and another in the National Gallery, London. The first work that Leonardo executed in Milan is the so-called Virgin of the Rocks, which actually expresses the theme of the Immaculate Conception, the dogma that affirms Christ was conceived without original sin on Mary's part. This canvas was to decorate the ancona (a carved wooden altar with frames where paintings were inserted) in the chapel of the Immacolata in the church of San Francesco Grande in Milan. On 25 April 1483, the members of the Confraternity of the Conception assigned the work of the paintings (a Virgin and Child in the center and two Angel-Musicians for the sides), to Leonardo, for the most important part, and the brothers Ambrogio and Evangelista De Predis, for the side panels. Scholars now feel that the two canvases on this same subject, one in the Louvre and the other in London's National Gallery, are simply two versions of the same painting, with significant variants.
    The Paris Virgin of the Rocks, entirely by Leonardo, is the one which first adorned the altar in San Francesco Grande. It may have been given by Leonardo himself to King Louis XII of France, in gratitude for the settlement of the suit between the painters and those who commissioned the works, in dispute over the question of payment. The later London painting replaced this one in the ancona. For the first time Leonardo could achieve in painting that intellectual program of fusion between human forms and nature which was slowly taking shape in his view of his art. Here there are no thrones or architectural structures to afford a spatial frame for the figures; instead there are the rocks of a grotto, reflected in limpid waters, decorated by leaves of various kinds from different plants while in the distance, as if emerging from a mist composed of very fine droplets and filtered by the golden sunlight, the peaks of those mountains we now know so well reappear. This same light reveals the gentle, mild features of the Madonna, the angel's smiling face, the plump, pink flesh of the two putti. For this work, too, Leonardo made numerous studies, and the figurative expression is slowly adapted to the program of depiction. In fact, the drawing of the face of the angel is, in the sketch, clearly feminine, with a fascination that has nothing ambiguous about it. In the painting, the sex is not defined, and the angel could easily be either a youth or a maiden

    Name: moning
    Date: 2002-08-15
    Comments: well, no matter it is virgin of the rocks or madonna of the rocks, as long as it portrays something unique, original and inspiring.

    Date: 2002-09-04
    Comments: This is one of my favorite paintings, and I want to buy a poster of it. However, no one seems to have one for sale. Does anybody know a site I could go to that would?
    On the painting itself, it is absolutely beautiful. Personally, I like the earlier version, the one in the Louve.

    Name: meow
    Date: 2002-10-24
    Comments: I've heard it as Madonna of the rocks and Virgin and ...........with infant John the baptist, infant crist and angel.

    Name: Emily
    Date: 2003-03-17
    Comments: This version of the work is the earlier. It was commissioned by the church of San Francesco. Da Vinci painted it this way, but it was too scandalous for the church to actually display it. Note John blessing the baby Jesus, rather than the other way around? So Da Vinci painted the second, the "Virgin" to be displayed.

    Name: anonymous (art buffs don't want you to know this)
    Date: 2003-03-30
    Comments: In fact this is actually a very interesting painting because, although not portrayed in this exact version of "Madonna of the Rocks", the version in the Louvre is consider rather comically ironic. Do you see how the Virgin Mary's hand is raised? To the eye it seems as if she is about to rest her hand on top of the child (John the Baptist, Jesus is the child she has her hand on), but if you allow your eyes to focus correctly on the Louvre version, you will see that her hand is actually vaguely claw-like in appearance as if she's none-to carefully grasping something. Meanwhile, the angel in the picture (found to be the angel Uriel) is running her hand in a rather menacing motion under marries hand in what we could identify as a gesture similar to that of "cut it" (that is we slice te fingers of our hand across our neck). It is rather hard to explain this vision in words and i would encourage anyone to see the louvre version and see for yourself. This is a common version of pagan symbolism constantly hidden in many of Da Vinci's paintings (you can also see the same idea of the hand-running-across-the-neck-of-something in Da Vinci's THE LAST SUPPER). These symbols are underhanded comments criticizing religion because although these paintings appear Holy, they are, in many ways, not. What is Uriel the Angel cutting with here hand? What is the Virgin Mary grasping? Those answers are much too complicated to be explained here on a comment board, but if anyone out there would really like to know, post something here telling me so with their email address and i'd be more than happy to e-mail you. I also have found such symbols to be present in many of Da Vinci's other paintings, such as the aforementioned LAST SUPPER and even THE MONA LISA.IMPORTANT NOTE- THESE SYMBOLS DO NOT APPEAR IN THE ABOVE VERSION OF THE PAINTING; THEY APPEAR IN AN UNCENSORED-ESQUE VERSION HANGING IN THE LOUVRE

    Name: DV Fan
    Date: 2003-03-31
    Comments: Da Vinci's original commission for his famous Madonna of the Rocks came from an organization known as the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, which needed a painting for the centerpiece of an altar triptych in their church of San Francesco Grand in Milan. The nuns gave Leonardo specific dimensions and a desired theme—the Virgin Mary, baby John The Baptist, Uriel, and Baby Jesus sheltering in a cave. Although Da Vinci did as they requested, when he delivered the work, the group reacted with horror. The painting contained several disturbing "un-Christian" anomalies, which seemed to convey a hidden message and alternative meaning. Da Vinci eventually mollified the confraternity by painting them a second version of Madonna of the Rocks, which now hangs in London's National Gallery under the name Virgin of the Rocks. Da Vinci's original hangs at the Louvre in Paris

    Name: Jack
    Date: 2003-04-01
    Comments: The one is Paris is the "Madonna of the Rocks". The one in London is the "Virgin of the Rocks. The first, with baby Jesus being blessed by baby John the Baptist, angered the powers that be, and to calm things down, he painted the second, which does not make Jesus' obsequious manner towards John so obvious.

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2003-04-11
    Comments: the painting is a fore shadowing of christ's fate. st. john is kneeling in a prayer stance, christ is being lifted by the angel.

    Name: Janis
    Date: 2003-04-22
    Comments: anonymous - please email me with the hidden pagan symbols in DaVinci's paintings. I am very interested. Thank you.

    Name: Joseph
    Date: 2003-04-22
    Comments: I have seen this painting in the National Gallery of Art in London. Although it was one of the earliest paintings on Leonardo and one of the earliest paintings that created true depth using light, I do not believe a human hand has created anything as beautiful as it since then. It is much larger in person and seeing it in a book or on a web page does not show the true magnificance of this piece of art. If you ever get the chance to visit London and see it in person, Do not pass it up. You will immediately see why Leonardo Da Vinci is the greatest artist of all time.

    Name: Ed
    Date: 2003-04-26
    Comments: Were it not for Dan Brown's most recent novel "The DaVinci Code", I never would have heard of the history of this most fascinating painting. I am just now learning to look more closely at his paintings for their hidden symbols.

    Name: redondoron
    Date: 2003-05-13
    Comments: I would like more specific indication of the anti-christian symbolic nature of Da Vinci's work. Especially his pagan influences. Can anyone supply source information? Thanks. Please email me.

    Name: Roger
    Date: 2003-05-29
    Comments: From what I understand, there are two versions of this painting but known by different names. The other being "Madonna of the Rocks" which differs in certain specifications such as the positioning of Uriel's right hand, being one of the most obvious differences. Other differences are symbological references by Da Vinci that appear in the earlier version.

    Name: Virginia
    Date: 2003-06-24
    Comments: In answer to "Anonymous", who obviously has read "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" and probably "The Da Vinci Code"--both fascinating & appealing to conspiracy buffs--"Anonymous", the angel is POINTING at something--Mary, perhaps--you can clearly see the index finger pointing and the other fingers drooping down at the back of the hand. This is NOT the same as the flat-hand "cutthroat" or "cut it" gesture we're familiar with (gangster movies?). Same in The Last Supper--the hand (Peter's) is not making a "cutthroat" gesture but is pointing at, presumably, Jesus. Here also, you can see the index finger pointing, held straight, while the other fingers sort of hang down behind.
    It's interesting that in this painting--the London Madonna--the children have haloes, while I couldn't see any haloes in the other painting. Also it's clear John is blessing Jesus--the child on the viewer's left in the London painting has the cross propped on his arm, exactly as in the picture of the Lamb of God seen in many church windows & elsewhere, which has a long thin cross such as this one held on one of its front legs. Also, Mary is extending a comforting (?) or supporting hand to that child, which she would probably not do if it were John. The gesture she's making over John's head also could be interpreted as blessing--isn't Jesus shown somewhere blessing someone by holding a hand over the person's head? I, like Anonymous, enjoy all the stuff about pagan symbolism in these paintings, etc., but there are some things--like the "cut it" gesture--that just don't add up, in my not-so-humble opinion. But--here's a mystery--in The Last Supper, is that a woman on Jesus's right? (Your left.) Look at an image of the cleaned version of the painting & see what you think. It's supposed to be John. I say it's Mary M., or at least Johnette ...

    Name: Kristen
    Date: 2003-07-10
    Comments: I think this painting is great. I love how Da Vinci sneaks in his contempt (if that's the right word) for christianity into alleged christian paintings. I am a christian myself, but I believe everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, and I absolutely love how he embeds his opinions into artworks that are supposed to reflect the exact opposite.

    Name: Unimportant
    Date: 2003-08-13
    Comments: Da Vinci's original commission fpr Madonna of the Rocks came from Confraternity of the immaculate Conception (a religious organization), which needed a painting for the centerpiece of an altar triptych in their Church of San Francesco in Milan. Specific guidelines were given to Leonardo along with the desired theme for the painting. Da Vinci followed the guidelines with a twist, the result socked the Confraternity. The painting shows a Virigin ary dressed in a blue robe with her arm around an infant (probably Baby Jesus). Opposite Mary you can see Uriel also with an infant (probably John the Baptist). All seems fine until you look at the Madonna of the Rocks version in Paris (Musee du Louvre) where Mary is holding one hand high above the head of infant John in a threatening gesture - her hand looks as if it grips an invisible head, what more Uriel is making a cutting gesture with his hand as if slicing the neck of the invisible head gripped by Mary's claw like hand. The painting above is mistakenly labelled Madonna of the Rocks it should read instead the Virgin of the Rocks which indeed can be see in London. The original version is in Paris and is indeed called Madonna of the Rocks.

    Name: afg
    Date: 2003-09-04
    Comments: The version at Le Louvre is named "Madonna of the Rocks" while the London version is called "Virgin of the Rocks". The distinction is necessary because while the subject matter is the same they are different paintings. The reason there are two is because when those who commissioned the painting saw it, they became very disturbed by it. Note that in the "Virgin of the Rocks", Mary is purportedly sheltering John who is in the process of receiving Jesus' benediction. In fact, in the "Modonna of the Rocks" it is Jesus who is wating for John's benediction. The shepard's cross in the "Vigin" painting was an addition (probably not put there by Da Vinci) in order to give the painting the desired perspective (that is, John should be the worshiper). Also, in the "Modonna" Uriel (with Jesus) is pointing towards John while inspecting the audience (the viewers of the painting), these details are lacking in the "Virgin". The hand has disappeared and Uriel has his/her (what is the sex of an angel?) turned inwards. Must who have studied Da Vinci in earnest claim that he painted the "Madonna" this way as joke. However, it is a known fact that Da Vinci was at odds with the Catholic Church, though he mercenarilly accepted their commissions.

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2003-09-04
    Comments: This IS in fact the later painting: aka, the Virgin of the Rocks. The original painting is Madonna of the Rocks and is, in fact, rather anti-religious (lots of symbolism with John blessing Jesus instead of vice versa

    Name: anonymous
    Date: 2003-10-04
    Comments: According to Gardners Art through the Ages, The Western Perspective, the version of the painting that hangs in the Louve is the Virgin of the Rocks painted in 1485 which shows Jesus sitting next to the Angel to Mary's right. The Angel points to John (on Mary's left) who is praying to Jesus. And Jesus blesses John in return. The version depicted above apparently is the later version that hangs in the National Gallery in London. It is not infant John who blesses Jesus but the other way around. The infant to Mary's right is John....not Jesus.

    Name: Charles
    Date: 2003-10-08
    Comments: In the original painting in Paris, you will note that the Angel is wearing a red cape. Red in religious paintings is an indication of John the Baptist as I understand it. The child that Mary's hand is on is her son Jesus and the child that is blessing Jesus is John the baptist as evidenced by the angels red cloak. The head being cut off is an obvious historical reference to the fate of John the Baptist, what fascinates me is why Leonardo painted Jesus bowing to John. Who was the master, Jesus or John?

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2003-10-08
    Comments: I have seen the version hanging in the Louvre and I have to disagree with the above comment about the angel and the virgin adding pagan symbolism to this painting. In this version the gestures of all four figures serve to unite them visually. The angel points to St. John (not this version), who in turn prays to the Christ child who then blesses St. John in return. The Virgin completes this series with her left hand reaching toward the Christ child and her arm protectively around St. John. Yes the Virgin's fingers are slightly more curved in the Louvre version but it does not at all look as though she is holding something neither does it look as if the angel is making a "cut it" motion with his/her hand.

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2003-11-07
    Comments: there are two different paintings of this seen, both by da vince. the origanal was to contravercal so he had to make a "cleaner" version. look at them both and see the differences. (he was a master of the hands, every detail in the paintings that makes them look threatining in for a reason)

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2006-07-03
    Comments: The original work titled "Madonna on the rocks" was painted as a joke from DaVinci to the order that orginally wanted the painting. They did not like the end result and he repainted it thus "Virgin on the rocks". This is NOT the orginal painting.It is quite different and is not to be taken literally.

    Name: Natalie
    Date: 2006-07-18
    Comments: There are 3 different painting of Virgin of the Rocks, one is on the National Gallery, London, one is in the Louvre, and the other one is in the Chéramy Collection in Switzerland..

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2006-07-23
    Comments: madonna of the rocks shows jesus praying to john. also urial is making a cutting motion with his hand under marys "claw". virgin of the rocks is the watered down version da vinci had to do because the first was so controversial

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2004-09-03
    Comments: The painting shows that mankind is as important as Jesus. John's ( representing mankind) blessing is necessary for Jesus's (the divine) sanctification.

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2006-09-16
    Comments: Many people seem to be very confused about who is Jesus and who is John the Baptist in this painting. This is most likely in part due to the fact that Da Vinci confused us by seemingly showing Mary holding "Jesus" (actually John) and also due to Dan Brown's famous misinterpretation of the art. Keep in mind that despite his claims, Brown is no art historian and his many errors have been pointed out countless times. Using simple logic, it is easy to determine who is who. It is clearly stated in the Gospel of Luke that St. John the Baptist was born 6 months before Jesus' birth. Now, look at the painting. Does not one child (the one on the viewer's left, with Mary's arm around him) appear to be significantly older than the other (seated next to the angel)? Leonardo was a brilliant artist who was an expert in proportions and would not inadvertently paint an older baby to be that much smaller than his 6-month younger companion. Clearly the praying child (with Mary's arm around him) is St. John the Baptist, and the baby making a "blessing" hand gesture (next to the angel) is Jesus. It's the only logical explanation.

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2005-01-18
    Comments: As a long time admirer of the work of Da Vinci, i find it hard to view a piece with fresh eyes. I must admit, this is not to my personal taste, but i can apprecite the fact that every time i see it, i feel something different, see something different, and understand something different. I dont know how he does it. Amazing

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2006-06-10
    Comments: there are not two versions of madonna of the rocks there is one madonna of the rocks and this isnt it and there is one virgin of the rocks which is this one. this one, virgin of the rocks is held in london and madonna of the rocks is held in the louvre in france. its slightly different than this one because da vinci originally painted madonna of the rocks and it was too controversial which is why he then painted virgin of the rocks which we can see here

    Name: Ophelia
    Date: 2006-11-27
    Comments: I think the most striking difference between The Madonna and Virgin paintings is the lack of distinction between the babies in the first version. Madonna of the Rocks shows which baby is which... John has a cruciform staff, one of his symbols, and Jesus has a halo. The first one doesn't. Now, one would assume that whichever child closest to Mary would be her son, so that makes Jesus the one to the left of her. Therefore, he's kneeling to John the Baptist.

    Name: Shane
    Date: 2006-12-02
    Comments: I have seen both versions. The first was titled Madonna Of The Rocks which displayed Da Vinci's darker side. If any of you out there have seen it you know what I mean. Da Vinci is known for that, but this one had him actually playing with fire which is why we now see the wider known version titled Virgin of the rocks. A very much so g rated version.

    Name: Unknown
    Date: 2006-12-03
    Comments: Have you seen the article by a geologist, Ann Pizzorusso that analyzes the rocks in the two paintings and concludes that Leonardo da Vinci did not paint the picture in London's National Gallery. The Louvre painting is by Leonardo. The article is in Leonardo Magazine published by MIT Press

    Name: Chelsie
    Date: 2007-01-02
    Comments: This painting was requested to be done by nuns of the Catholic church, however in the first version, Madonna On The Rocks, Da Vinci (a pagan) basically makes a mockery of the church by putting the characters of the painting(Jesus, and his mother Mary, John the Babtist,and his mother Elizabeth) in inappropriate positions. In Madonna On The Rocks Jesus is placed praying to John and John is making some inappropriate pointing motions at Jesus and Mary. Also Mary is holding her hand above John's head in a "choking motion". The painting obviously insulted the Roman Catholic nuns and so Da Vinci did the latter version, Virgin On The Rocks

    Name: gail
    Date: 2007-01-26
    Comments: I really get confused by all the different idea's and which child is which. I want to know what was Leonardo's intention. I like the older version, where other painters did not add on the churches required halo's and cross. It is more natural.

    Date: 2007-02-28
    Comments: It is fascinating how the above comments all echo Dan Brown's nonsense about sinister symbolism in Leonardo's splendid works. Certainly, Leonardo's thinking was at odds with the church, and this was, of necessity since the church was the principal patron of the arts at that time, surreptiously -symbolically- expressed in his paintings (symbolism was by no means confined to Leonardo's art), but it almost certainly did not take the absurd form of hands supposedly holding invisible heads, or making cut-throat gestures, he was far too intelligent and sensitive a person than to think in such crudely nonsensical terms. With Leonardo, one must look for far more profound, philosophically based, symbolism: although poorly school, he was widely read, mixed, and participated in intellectual circles. Dan Brown demeans one of the worlds' greatest artists and thinkers.

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