da Vinci

1452 - 1519

 Renaissance Art Map
     Leonardo da Vinci - biography
     Leonardo da Vinci
     1452-1481 Leonardo in the Florence of the Medici    
     1482-1499 At the court of Ludovico il Moro    
     1500-1508 The return to Florence    
     1508-1513 The Milan of Charles d'Amboise    
     1513-1519 The last years: Rome and France    



Leonardo da Vinci
c. 1512




The return to Florence




The sacred and the secular


During the four years of his second stay in Florence, Leonardo went through a period of extraordinary artistic productivity, creating no less than a dozen works brought to varying stages of completion. In addition, he carried on his studies of anatomy, arithmetic, geometry, and military engineering, and took on various military and civilian duties, one of which was a project to divert the Arno River near Pisa. Between 1500 and 1508 Leonardo worked on the Cartoon for the StAnne, Battle of Anghiari, Leda and the Swan, Madonna with the Yarn-Winder, Hercules and the Nemean Lion, Mary Magdalen, Neptune with the Sea Horses, the Salvator Mundi, the Angel of the Annunciation, and the Madonna and Child with the Young St John. Only drawings survive of the two mythological subjects, Neptune and Hercules; and all that remain of the Madonna with the Yarn-Winder, commissioned by Florimond Robertet, secretary of the French king, and of the Salvator Mundi, are the versions by pupils.


After Leonardo, Madonna with the Yarn-Winder, c.1501, Private Collection, New York.

This painting derives its iconography from the apocryphal Gospels in which it is related that the Virgin spun the purple cloth destined for the temple.
Seated in a landscape of mountains and streams, Mary, showing both concern and acquiescence, supports the Child, who leans against the spindle basket and holds fast the yarn-winder that has assumed the form of a cross. There is a complex symbolic and psychological interaction between the figures of the Virgin and the Child.


Leonardo da Vinci,
Neptune with the Sea Horses, 1500-08, Royal Library, Windsor.
This drawing was a preliminary study for the Neptune commissioned by Antonio Segni, a client of Botticelli.
The violence of the scene is reminiscent of the work done for the Battle of Anghiari.



Marco d'Oggiono, Salvator Mundi, after 1494, Galleria Borghese, Rome.
A copy of Leonardo's version, this painting was donated by Pope Paul V to Cardinal Scipione Borghese as the work of Leonardo.
There is debate as to whether the subject was painted for the French king or to celebrate the expulsion of the Medici from Florence,
which occurred on the day of San Salvatore, 1494.


After Leonardo, Madonna with the Yarn-Winder, c.1501, Drumlaring Castle, Edinburgh.
Here, too, criticism fluctuates between a secular and supernatural reading.
In his mature years Leonardo addressed the theme of play, here in a context of spinning
and weaving, archetypal images of the Passion. Once again the gestures imply a complex
chain of actions and reactions, with deep spiritual overtones.


Leonardo da Vinci
Grotesque head
Black chalk on paper
Christ Church, Oxford


Leonardo da Vinci
Head of a Man
Red chalk on paper
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice


Leonardo da Vinci
Profile of an old man
Pen and ink on paper
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence


Leonardo da Vinci
Star of Bethlehem and other plants
Pen and ink over red chalk on paper
Royal Library, Windsor


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