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her daughter from restraining him. None of these features, on the other hand, are applicable to the Royal Academy cartoon ; the lamb is entirely absent (its place is supplied by the figure of the little S. John the Baptist), and the scene, therefore, is quite different both in aspect and significance, to that described by Fra Pietro da Nuvolaria, who further gives us the date at which the composition was definitely decided upon, in Leonardo's mind : April, 1501.
In 1503, as we have already said, the Servites, despairing of the completion of the work by Leonardo, signed a fresh contract with Filippino Lippi, who promised to deliver the picture before Whitsuntide in the following year. But his death (April, 1504) prevented the redemption of this promise, and the altar-piece was furnished by Perugino,-his famous Crucifixion, now at the Accademia delle Belle Arti at Florence.
When Leonardo returned to Milan, to reside there, he naturally carried his cartoon—perhaps his two cartoons—with him. And this explains the frequent reproduction of his charming and wonderfully harmonious composition by the painters of Northern Italy.
Finally, the cartoon followed its author to France. Vasari bears formal witness to this fact. He is corroborated by Paolo Giovio, and by the writer of the anonymous biography edited by Signor Milanesi. In his life of Leonardo, written about 1529, Paolo Giovio tells us, in explicit terms, that there was a picture representing the Infant Christ, playing with His Mother and S. Anne, and that this picture was bought by the King of France, and placed in his treasury: “ Extat et infans Christus in tabula cum Matre Virgine Annaque una colludens, quam Franciscus Rex Galliæ coemptam in sacrario collocavit.”
How then did the Saint Anne find its way out of the royal collection ? The explanation is easily found. In the same way as Benvenuto Cellini's saltcellar, or the casket of Valerio Belli, 1 or the great Viennese cameo—the first of which was given by Charles IX., in 1570, to the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, uncle of his betrothed wife, Elizabeth, while the second may have been carried into Austria by that same Elizabeth, after the death of Charles IX.-or again, without looking further afield, in the same way as Leonardo's John the Baptist, which was given to Charles I. of England by Louis XIII., purchased
i Plon, Benvenuto Cellini, p. 296.
by Jabach, when that monarch's belongings were dispersed, and bought back from Jabach by Mazarin.
I have grave doubts, in any case, as to whether it was the original Saint Anne which fell, as Lomazzo affirms, into the hands of Aurelio Luini, son of the painter, at Milan, towards the close of the sixteenth century. This was probably only a copy. It is certain that the original picture was found in Italy at the time of the siege of Casale, by Cardinal Richelieu, and by him brought back to France.1
How did the Saint Anne find its way back into the Royal collection ? I find this question more difficult to answer. For a moment I believed that two entries of payments, contained in the accounts connected with the buildings of Louis XIV., referred to the masterpiece in the Salon Carré. The following lines appear in certain documents published by M. Guiffrey: "1677. Bought, a picture by Leonardo da Vinci. 4400 lb." "1678, January 8. To M. le Marquis de Béthune for a picture by Leonard de Vincy which he has sold to the King. 4400 16.” 2
But in response to my appeal to M. Bonnaffé, the erudite and lively historian of Richelieu, I have received this learned pronouncement, which, with his kind permission, I will now proceed to lay before the public. “The Saint Anne by Leonardo, which the Cardinal brought back with him from Italy, in 1629, was hung in the “Grand Cabinet' of his hôtel in Paris, together with The Family oj the Virgin by Andrea del Sarto, the Disciples at Emmaüs by Paul Veronese, etc. In 1636, Richelieu presented this palace of his to the King. The gift was formally legalised in 1639. During the regency of Anne of Austria, the pictures were removed to Fontainebleau (Sauval., vol. ii., p. 169), and placed in the Queen's apartments. Subsequently (when, I know not), they were brought back to Paris, and hung in the Louvre. The picture bought from the Marquis de Béthune in 1678, cannot, therefore, have been the Saint Anne now in the Louvre.”
M. Bonnaffé is quite right. A note communicated to me by M. Engerand, who has applied his wide learning to the reconstitution of the history of our great national gallery, proves that the picture purchased from the Marquis de Béthune was the Virgin with the Scales.
1 The inventory of the ducal palace at Turin (1682) mentions a cartoon “della Madonna in grembo a S. Anna, di Leonardo da Vinci.” (Campori, Raccolta di Cataloghi ed Inventarii inediti, p. 98.)
2 Los Comptes des Bâtiments du Roi, vol. i. p. 943—1012.
In addition to the Royal Academy cartoon, and the picture in the Louvre, I may mention a third cartoon, with fragmentary sketches of hands and feet, in her Majesty's library at Windsor.1
And at a yet more recent date, Mr. Marks has brought to light a cartoon which passed out of the collection of Padre Resta (1696) into that of the Plattemberg family, at Münster, and finally into the hands of Count Nicolas Esterhazy, at Vienna. My knowledge of this specimen, which is remarkable for its wonderful finish, is confined to photographs.2
The idea, certainly singular, and even somewhat irreverent, of representing the Virgin seated on the knee of her mother, S. Anne, would seem to have been haunting Leonardo's fancy for a long time. Perhaps he reckoned on the increased strength of the impression to be produced by the contemplation of these two generations of maternity, this tenderness twice told, of S. Anne for the Virgin, and of the Virgin for her Son. However that may have been, the idea of this grown woman, already a mother herself, sitting on the lap of her own parent, is not altogether an agreeable one. There is something over-familiar about it, which startles and repels.3
A pen and ink drawing in the Accademia delle Belle Arti, at Venice (see above, p. 121), contains the germ of this composition, which is certainly more picturesque than solemn in conception. The Virgin, seated on S. Anne's lap, holds the Infant Jesus, who bends to bless the lamb which raises its head towards him. In the background there is a second figure, probably a study for the first two. The grouping is not definite, the arrangement of the lines is neither clear nor vigorous. With this Venetian drawing, I must refer to that in the British Museum. This last, which is engraved in Mr. Marks' works (p. 41), is connected with the Royal Academy cartoon, and is composed of four figures, almost in the same attitude as the latter.
1 The writer of an article in the Gazette des Beaux Arts (November, 1897) contests the authenticity of these fragments, which he describes as “heavy and formless lumps of flesh.” I appeal from him to the testimony of all art connoisseurs.
2 In his article already referred to, in the Gazette des Beaux Arts, and in the Catalogue of the Burlington Fine Arts Club (1898, p. 35), Mr. Cook affirms that the Esterhazy cartoon is an imitation, and not by Leonardo's hand at all.
3 Yet it is asserted that in the Middle Ages the Virgin used to be represented under the form of a child, sitting on her mother's lap, beside the Infant Jesus (Lübke, Geschichte der italienischen Malerei, vol. ii., p. 70). Michelangelo, too, represented the Virgin seated on the lap of St. Anne (Oxford University; Robinson, no. 22 ; and at the Louvre), as did also Girolamo dai Libri, in a picture in the National Gallery
In the second rank, we note a drawing in the Louvre, originally belonging to the His de la Salle collection, which has been described as follows by M. de Tauzia. “No. 120. A Holy Family. The Blessed Virgin, seated on her mother's knees, holds the Infant Jesus in her arms. He turns to the right, and looks at S. Anne. Two columns, very slightly indicated, enframe the composition : although the subject is the same as that of the picture known as the Saint Anne in the Louvre Museum, there is an evident difference between the two compositions (in black chalk, worked over with the pen). Size, 160 millim. by 120 millim.”—Feuchère Collection.
The Royal Academy cartoon, which may be taken as the link between these preparatory studies and the Louvre picture, is as lacking in definition as the Venetian drawing. The two female heads are so close together as to produce, at first sight, the effect of a two-headed body. The figures, also, are too closely interlocked. In every particular, the absence of the dignity and clearness characteristic of the Saint Anne in the Louvre makes itself felt.
Let us also glance, before proceeding further, at a head in the Uffizi Gallery which has many points in common with the S. Anne of the cartoon (Braun, 931). There are the same somewhat soft and irregular outlines, the same high chin, the same irregular features and uncertain glance.
A number of studies of heads, hands, feet, and draperies, carried out either in black chalk or body-colour, give us an idea of the care taken by Leonardo to ensure all possible perfection in his picture. These studies have lost-I will not say the dryness—but the overprecision and minuteness of those made for the Virgin of the Rocks. Though still scrupulously careful, they are full of an unequalled delicacy and ease. Leonardo had left the period of struggle behind him, and had entered on the epoch of his triumphs. The long laborious travail which brought the Last Supper into existence had given him an incomparable sureness of hand and charm of style. The
His de la
i Notice des dessins de la p. 89.