Madonna of the Rocks

Madonna of the Rocks
Artist Leonardo da Vinci
Year 1483-1486
Medium Oil on panel
Location Louvre, Paris
Dimensions 78.3 in × 48.0 in
199 cm × 122 cm

Madonna of the Rocks, also called as Virgin of the Rocks, is a Leonardo da Vinci painting left unfinished by the artist. The painting depicts Mary and the child Jesus inside a cave of rocks accompanied by the Angel Gabriel. The scene illustrates the meeting of the child Jesus and the child St. John the Baptist. Mary is shown guiding the child John the Baptist towards Jesus who sits with the angel.

There are two versions of the paintings. One sits in the Louvre Museum and the other one in the National Gallery of Art in London. The Louvre version was painted with oil on a 199 x 122 cm panel dated c. 1483 – c. 1486. The second and later version in London was painted with oil on a 189.5 cm × 120 cm panel dated c. 1495 – 1508. In the Louvre museum, Angel Gabriel was pointing his hand towards John the Baptist. The London version, which is a more mature version but is believed to be not done by da Vinci alone, doesn’t have the hand gesture of the angel. There are other differences in the attributes between the two paintings. The Louvre version, however, is believed to be done mainly by da Vinci.

The painting was an altarpiece commissioned by the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception to decorate their chapel in the Church of San Francesco Grande in Milan on April 25, 1483. The commission was for Leonardo to do in collaboration with the de Pedis siblings, Evangelista and Ambrogio, who were assigned to do the embellishment, coloring and retouching of the side panels. Another artist, Giacomo del Maino was assigned to do the framework. Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint the central piece.

This painting created a commotion between the artists and the commissioners and the conflict lasted for a long time. Moreover, it has been one of the most intricate religious paintings that stirred intrigues.