Madonna and Child with Saint Anne and the Infant Saint John

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Miki Hamano
Professor Foreman
History of Art 2B
April 16th 2012

Madonna and Child with Saint Anne and the Infant Saint John

Madonna and Child with Saint Anne and the Infant Saint John(22-3), sometimes called The Burlington House Cartoon, is a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci. The drawing is in charcoal and black and white chalk, on eight sheets of paper glued together. Because of its large size and format the drawing is presumed to be a cartoon for a painting. No painting by Leonardo exists that is based directly on this cartoon. The drawing depicts the Virgin Mary seated on the knees of her mother St Anne and holding the Child Jesus while St. John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, stands to the right. It was either executed in around 1499–1500, when the artist was in Milan. It currently hangs in the National Gallery in London. In the first the cartoon acted as a type of stencil, thousands of small holes pricked the edges of each line and a bag of charcoal dust was “pounced” upon the cartoon.  In the second the cartoon acted as carbon paper, the back of the image was coated with charcoal dust and the image was carefully traced.  Since either process was messy and damaged the original paper, very few of these survive.  Those that remain were typically created for paintings that weren’t executed. His cartoon may even outshine his paintings, using only charcoal and white chalk on paper. he manages to create an illusion of depth and convey emotion.  Look at the image closely and you can see that he used very few lines and used the combination of charcoal and chalk to bring his method of chiaroscuro to the drawing.  His hatching, visible here and there beneath the extensive blurring, curves around volumes and creates the misty atmosphere. We also need to see the strong triangular composition. The composition of the four figures is fairly tight, with the Virgin Mary clearly interacting actively with the infant Jesus. The knees of the two women point different...
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