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Fortunately a valuable document, discovered in the Mantuan archives by Armand Baschet, and published by Charles Yriarte, has cast a flood of light upon this matter. The following words are quoted from M. Yriarte's elegant and faithful translation of a letter written to the Marchesa Isabella of Mantua by her correspondent Fra Pietro da Nuvolaria, and dated April 3, 1501. "I will apply all my care and haste to the commission, but, according to everything I hear, Leonardo's life is full of variety, and subject to many changes. He seems to be living without care for the morrow. He has only done one cartoon since he has been at Florence. His composition is an Infant Christ, hardly a year old, slipping from His Mother's clasp to catch hold of a lamb and embrace it. The Virgin, rising almost out of the lap of S. Anne, endeavours to part the Babe from the lamb—the animal must not be sacrificed; it represents the Passion of Christ. S. Anne seems about to make some movement to hold her daughter back. This may be an allusion to the Church, which would not seek to prevent the Lord's Passion. The figures are life-sized, and yet the composition is a small one, because, as all of them are either seated or bending down, they overlap each other on the left-hand side of the group. This sketch is not yet completed. He has done nothing else. Two of his pupils are painting portraits, and he touches them up from time to time. He grows very impatient of painting, and spends all his time on geometry.

I write this merely to acknowledge the receipt of

I will perform the commission and will advise your Excellency.”

This letter removes all doubt as to the identity of the composition selected for the picture in the Louvre with that produced by Leonardo in 1501.

What is the description given by the Marchesa's correspondent ? That Leonardo has represented the Infant Christ escaping from His Mother's arms, to lay hands on a lamb, that the Virgin rises, almost from her mother's lap, to part the Child from the lamb, and that S. Anne seems disposed to hold her daughter back. These features are applicable in every particular to the sketch in the Louvre, except that, in this latter, S. Anne, with hand on hip, quietly watches her grandson's play, instead of making any effort to prevent

your letter.

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i Gazette des beaux Arts, 1888, vol. i., p. 123.

Study for the Drapery of the Virgin in the

Anne.

"Saint

(THX TO Vak)

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