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seeker had disappeared. The finder had taken his place, as we see in such things as the fine drawing in black chalk at the Louvre, made for some of the lower draperies on the figure of the Virgin (this drapery is much more elaborately carried out than in the picture itself), and the red chalk drawing at Windsor, less advanced, and therefore more remote from the actual picture. It only shows the right leg of the Virgin, and a bare arm, stretched out towards the Child, who does not appear in the drawing (Grosvenor Gallery, no. 100). For other drawings of this period see the Catalogue at the end of this volume.
An admirable drawing in the Louvre of a woman, seen full face, with an eager countenance, great eyes almost starting from their sockets, and dishevelled hair, yet with an indescribable air of dignity and grandeur, might well be the first idea for the Saint Anne. The expression and attitude in the Louvre picture are totally different. But in an ancient copy preserved at the Uffizi, though it varies in many particulars, the analogy is still striking. As to another drawing in the Louvre of the head of S. Anne (Braun, no. 213), it may have been done from the picture, and not for it.
A charming red chalk drawing, preserved in the Condé Museum at Chantilly (see vol. i., p. 12; there is a replica in the Accademia at Venice), contains studies for the head, for an arm, a foot, and finally for the whole figure, of the Infant Christ. The general attitude is indeed the same as in the picture ; but the presence of the lamb is not yet indicated. In one case the Child holds a thong, in another the hands are empty. Of the lamb itself there is no trace. There is a bad copy of this drawing in the Ambrosiana at Milan (Gerli., pl. ix.).
Let us turn to the picture itself. Who does not know the famous canvas, one of the artist's masterpieces, one of the gems of our Salon Carré? Seated on a hillock, facing the spectator, her figure thrown back, her left arm leaning on her hip, her two bare feet planted squarely on the ground as though to steady herself, S. Anne, her face shining with happiness, an ineffable smile upon her lips, contemplates the charming group formed by her daughter and her grandson. The Virgin, sitting on her mother's knee, but turned to the right, and seen in profile only, bends to take up her Son, who is playing with a lamb, and who—that age knows no pity !-seems to be tormenting the innocent creature somewhat. He has caught hold of one of its ears, and thrown one of his legs over its neck, as though desiring to ride upon it. The lamb, though seeming to recognise this as mere caressing sport, gently resists, while the Child, obedient to his mother's voice, turns round as if to say, “But I am not hurting it!”
1 Each of these drawings shows the same subjects, that is to say, two full length figures of the Infant Jesus, a head, a foot, and an arm. But each also contains things lacking in the other. The drawing at the Accademia at Venice contains, on the left, a shoulder and part of a torso, and on the right a male torso, which do not exist in the Chantilly drawing. On the left side of this last, on the other hand, we find a study for the lower part of a child's body, which is not in the Venetian drawing.
Any attempt to describe the naturalness, the ease, the charm of this little idyll in written words, must be futile indeed. The correctness of the various expressions, and the grace of the movements, are as nothing beside the overflowing poetry of the whole picture. In every detail of the work the artist has achieved the wonderful feat of making us forget the skill of the painter in our admiration of the poet, who calls up the most smiling fancies before our eyes. No other artist has based composition of such apparent lightness and grace on so deep a groundwork of effort and research, and Leonardo's work, consequently, bears criticism better than that of any other master.
Leonardo endeavoured to reduce the result of his long continued personal study of painting to a system. But though his Trattato della Pittura had been ten times as judicious and profound as it is, the artist would never have produced such a masterpiece as the Saint Anne, unless he had himself possessed a special artistic instinct. The qualities which are least affected by didactic analysis and instruction are the most precious, after all.
Let us not forget that the Saint Anne (a sketch only, but what a sketch !) is a complete contrast to the Virgin of the Rocks. The extreme of close and careful execution in the last-named picture, carried as far as that of the most sincere of the Primitives, is balanced, in this later work, by an outburst of fancy and freedom. Leonardo's genius, so radiant in its essence, handles the subject over which it had so long been brooding with consummate ease. Not a trace of effort remains. He has acquired sufficient self-control, sufficient power of abstraction, to spare us
the sight of the gropings and struggles which have led up to his triumph ; the work seems to have sprung into complete existence in a flash, and we could not desire or conceive it different in any one particular.
The colouring of the Saint Anne is clear, tender, sunny, full of pinks and blues, and tender carnations. It foreshadows Luini, Sodoma, Andrea del Sarto. The Virgin wears a reddish dress, the sleeves of a shade approaching blue, and a bluish mantle. (Positive colours very seldom appear in Leonardo's pictures. Everything, in his case, is relative and subjective. He must have had a foreknowledge of the laws of Daltonism.)
The landscape is light and hazy. Towards the centre, on the right, stands a clump of trees (ashes ?) fuller and leafier than those of the primitive masters, but treated in quite as poetic a style. (Leonardo kept his youth so long !) They have the same smooth trunks, crowned by sparse, quivering foliage, showing the deep Italian sky beyond. My readers will, I am sure, be glad that I should place before them, in this connection, some remarks on Leonardo's landscape art, furnished by my friend M. Emile Michel, whose opinion carries double weight, as being that both of an artist and an art critic. “ Like Mantegna," writes M. Michel, “ Leonardo holds that even as a background to pictures, the mere reproduction of nature does not offer sufficient interest. He searches out strange features, and in one and the same work he will bring together, without much air of probability, such curiosities of picturesque scenery as seem to him likely to appeal to the spectator's curiosity.
“ The weird landscape that stretches behind La Gioconda certainly does add to the mysterious fascination of that enigmatic figure. The treacherous country, with its jagged peaks and deep waters and winding passes, the leaden sky, the threatening elements, frame the siren's beauty in most expressive fashion.
“The same background of bare bluish peaks appears in the Saint Anne, overlooking a far more smiling landscape, with waters that spread in rushing cascades amongst the trees and brown spaces of earth. The strangeness of these backgrounds of Leonardo's is increased by the fact that the details of his foregrounds are, as a rule, faithfully taken from nature, and reproduced with the scrupulous care and skill