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 Museum Explorer

Birds and beasts
in Europe

Virgin and child with cat

Height: 130.000 mm
Width: 94.000 mm

PD 1856-6-21-1 recto

Virgin and Child with Cat

From: Florence, Italy
Date: around AD 1478-81

This is a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, who would try out different ideas in a sketch before doing a painting. He has tried to make it seem as if the people in the sketch are moving rather than sitting still. Leonardo has drawn Christ holding a cat as it tries to escape, and the Virgin Mary holding Christ.

Cats have lived with people for thousands of years, and have appeared in art since Egyptian times. They are particularly useful in catching rats and mice.