Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Vergine delle Rocce’

door Michèl Nijdam

This painting by Leonardo da Vinci shows the Virgin Mary (Madonna), both Christ and St. John the Baptist as a child, and the archangel Uriel within a cave. The original painting was done by Da Vinci in 1485 whilst living in Milan.

We see the Virgin Mary stretching one hand to include John the Baptist and raising the other hand above the head of Christ in a blessing. The infant St. Jogn is making a gesture of prayer to the Christ child. The Christ child in return blesses St. John. Mary’s left hand hovers protectively over the head of her son while the angel Uriel looks out and points to St. John. Normally when we see the Virtin Mary and Christ, Mary has been enthroned as the Queen of Heaven. Here, in contrast, we see Mary seated on the ground. This type of representation of Mary is referred to as the Madonna of Humility.

In 1508 a second paintin of Madonna of the Rocks was created. It is believed it was made by Da Vinci and some others artists. This painting – which contains brighter colors, but is almost identical in form – can be foud at the National Gallery of Art in London.