Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “The Madonna of the Rock” puts the National Gallery in London at the center of his new exhibition. Visitors to the exhibition can learn about the sketches hidden under the paint layer of the work, discovered during the scientific examination of the work.
Leonardo has been known to finish his paintings for a long time. He worked on the Madonna of the Rock for two periods, from 1491 to 1499, then from 1506 to 1508. An earlier study in 2005 found that he originally wanted to paint the madonna in a different pose, but no further changes were revealed.
Thanks to the latest technology – macro-X-ray fluorescence maps, something like infrared and hyperspectral imaging – we were able to discover a new sketch under the paint layer, The Art Newspaper website reported.
In Leonardo’s first composition, the child Jesus and the angel were placed higher, the angel looking down on the little Jesus. It is not clear why the artist broke up with this idea, but on a new sketch he recently discovered, he had a different vision of the scene. For example, he changed the headrest of the baby Jesus to make it look profile, and some of the angel’s curls had disappeared.
The Rocky Madonna will be moved to the lower level of the Gallery for an exhibition in November. As Caroline Campbell, the gallery’s collection director, said sketches that were hidden underneath the painting were explored behind closed doors in studios, laboratories and libraries, so now they want the public to discover what the researchers have discovered.
According to experts at the National Gallery, the Rocky Madonna was entirely painted by Leonardo, but there are those who believe that some of her landscapes were assisted by her assistants.
The gallery has confirmed that the Madonna of the Rock will not be lent for the large Leonardo exhibition on the Louvre in Paris. Another version of the theme, from 1483 to 1486, is owned by the Louvre and will be on display in Paris at the end of October.
The Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece exhibition at the London National Gallery will open on November 9 and will be on view until January 12, 2020.