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hand, may yet have something to do with the Madonnas painted at about this time, the Virgin of the Scales in the Louvre, and the Holy Family of the Hermitage, may specially be noticed.
The S. Petersburg Holy Family represents the Virgin seated, holding on her knees the Holy Child, who, with a smile, seeks the maternal breast. The young mother's costume consists of a red robe, lined with light blue, and a blue mantle lined with green. To the right stands S. Joseph, leaning on a staff, and smiling tenderly upon the sacred couple. He wears a white tunic and a brown cloak. To the left, S. Catherine reads a book ; she wears a grey robe bordered with gold, and a rea mantle, and holds a palm branch in her left hand Near her we see the wheel, the instrument of her martyrdom. The figures are all half-length, except that of the Child Christ.
This Holy Family comes from the Mantua Gallery, which was dispersed after the sack of that city in 1630. It was added to the Russian Imperial collections by Catherine II. Clément de Risl and Woermann ? are inclined to ascribe it to Cesare da Sesto.
This Hermitage Holy Family should be studied in connection with the Virgin of the Bas-relief, well known through Forster's engraving. The latter work passed from Woodburn, the dealer, into the collection of Lord Monson, at Gatton Park. It represents
i Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1879, vol. i., p. 343. 2 Geschichte der Malerei, vol. ii., p. 564.
the Virgin, the Infant Jesus, the little S. John, S. Joseph, and S. Zacharias. I
In the Virgin with the Scales Mary holds the little naked Jesus on her lap. The Archangel Michael, kneeling on one knee, offers him a pair of scales, on which Jesus lays his hands. To the left S. Elizabeth caresses the little S. John, who in turn plays with a lamb. The scene is a grotto, with cleft rocks not unlike those of the Vierge aux Rochers. The expressions are uniformly smiling, and the scale of tones lacks force and depth. To me it appears doubtful whether even the composition was derived from Leonardo ; the picture has been attributed both to Salai and to the mediocre d'Oggiono.
I may next refer to a certain number of sacred pictures the dates of which are not easy to fix.
Numerous drawings exist to prove that Leonardo at one time intended to paint a S. George and the Dragon (see below, p. 185). The drawing here reproduced seems to me to belong to his first Florentine period.
He must also have worked at a Resurrection and at a Descent into Hell. A Windsor drawing (no. 94 in the Grosvenor Gallery Catalogue) shows us a nude male figure, standing, holding in the left hand a long staff, and extending the right in the traditional gesture of a Christ summoning the souls in Limbo.
Leonardo was fond of fantastic subjects, and was even prone, on occasion, to a treatment which seems to us to border on irreverence. He proposed to paint the Madonna and the Child Jesus playing with a cat. Drawings on which this idea is treated in various ways are numerous.
One of the earliest of these is in the Library at Windsor. It contains three different suggestions for the group of the Holy Child making a cat stand up on its hind legs. 2
1 [At the sale of the Gatton Park collection, in 1888, this picture was bought by its present owner, the Earl of Carysfort, K.P. It is practically identical with the picture in the Brera, and only differs from that in the Hermitage, S. Petersburg, in minor details. All three are now acknowledged to be the work of Cesare da Sesto. (See the Catalogue of Pictures by Masters of the Milanese and allied Schools of Lombardy, printed for the Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1898. Ed.]
? Among the Windsor cats we find leopards and lionesses, which also occur among the drawings of horses in the same collection. These same leopards and lionesses re-appear in the Louvre drawing, a man defending himself with a shield from which dart rays of light.
Again, we find in M, Bonnat’s collection a drawing full of " pentimenti,” in which the Child plays with a cat ; and a larger one, very rough in execution and evidently drawn without models, in which the cat is being tickled. Lower down on this paper are the Virginthe inscrutable Leonardesque smile on her face—and the Child holding a cat, which jumps upon his knees.
The Uffizi possesses a drawing on prepared green paper, showing the Virgin seated and holding before her, on a sort of circular table or stool, the Infant Christ, who grasps a struggling cat. (Braun, no. 447.)
Then we have in the British Museum a washed drawing containing an extremely confused design for the same subject.1
There may be an interval of twenty years between these various designs. While the forms in the Windsor drawing still show an archaic touch (especially in the unsuccessful foreshortening of the Virgin's figure), those in the drawing at the British Museum are quite Raphaelesque in their breadth and freedom.
A theme like this might have led to much in the hands of a virtuoso like Leonardo, but we have no proof that he ever attacked it with the brush. His pupils, of course, poor in ideas as they were, took care not to lose sight of this one. Mantelli engraved a Child Jesus playing with a cat, over the name of Bernardino Luini.2 Another imitator of Leonardo, Bazzi, called Il Sodoma, is said to be the author of a picture now in the Brera, in which the Virgin supports the Divine Child, while he tenderly embraces a cat. Here the cat's head bears a curious resemblance to that of a lamb, or to that of the strange, long-muzzled animal (a weazel ?), represented in the unsympathetic female portrait of the Czartoryski Gallery at Cracow.
The idea long bore fruit. Giulio Romano painted a Madonna del Gatto. Titian varied the conception by leaving us a Madonna with a Rabbit (the Louvre and the Naples Museum).
1 Wallis, Art Journal, 1882, p. 33–36. Cf. Müller-Walde, p. 102-103.
? Raccolta di Disegni .... incisi sugli originali esistenti nella Biblioteca ambrosiana ; Milan, 1785, pl. xxii.
3 Published by Frizzoni, Archivio Storico dell'Arte, 1891, p. 279.
It may have been during his second stay in Milan, from 1506 onwards, that Leonardo painted the Bacchus of the Louvre. The conception is well known. Seated on a rock, the left leg bent upon the right, the left arm carelessly supporting a thyrsus, and the right hand extended, the vine-crowned god of wine seems to enjoy the beauty of the landscape about him. The identity of motive between this picture and the S. John the
Baptist—also in the Louvre — has led several critics to believe that here again we have a representation, not of Bacchus, but of the precursor of Christ. And, in fact, the Church of
Sant'Eustorgio, at (Windsor Library.)
Milan, possesses a picture, certainly a S. John the Baptist, identical in every respect with that in the Louvre, save for the crown of vine leaves. The same saint again is represented in the picture from the Penther Collection (sold at Vienna in December 1887), which is a textual reproduction of the Louvre picture. The thyrsus must have usurped the place of the reed cross. On the other hand, Leonardo's contemporary, F. A. Giraldi, celebrated the painter's Bacchus in the following distich, published by the Marquis Campori :
Bacchus LEONARDI Vinci:
Me peperit docta Vincius ille manu. The Louvre picture is remarkable for its comparatively high i Passavant, Raphael d’Urbin, vol. ii., p. 252-253. [Baroccio also painted a Madonna del Gatto. Ed.]
2 A. Gruyer, Le Salon Carré, p. 36.