The Virgin and Child, three heads in profile and other sketches Metalpoint and leadpoint, with pen and brown ink, on pale salmon pink prepared paper Verso: Three studies of the Virgin and Child, seated Pen and brown ink, over leadpoint, the lower sketch in leadpoint only
- 1478-1480 (c.)
- Height: 203 millimetres
- Width: 156 millimetres
Inscription ContentPopham & Pouncey 1950
Inscribed in Leonardo's hand, on the recto, bottom right: 'in principio era' and higher up 'iesus e V[ergine]'.
Lit.: A.E. Popham and P. Pouncey, 'Italian drawings in the BM, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries', London, 1950, I, no. 100, II, pls. XCIV, XCV (with previous literature); A.E. Popham, in exhib. cat., London, Royal Academy, 'Leonardo da Vinci quincentenary exhibition', 1952, no. 25
Popham & Pouncey 1950
The sketch with the arched top on the verso corresponds almost exactly with the 'Madonna Benois' in the Hermitage (Bodmer 8), for which there is every reason to suppose that it is a study. The other pen and ink study on the verso and the Madonna on the recto are perhaps variants. The faint lead-point study of the Madonna in profile on the verso has been plausibly related by Clark ('Burlington') to the 'Madonna Litta' in the Hermitage (Bodmer 43), which he tentatively identifies with a 'Madonna' in the list of works which Leonardo drew up, probably soon after his arrival in Milan about 1482: "un altra [nostra donna] qu(a)si [finita] chē proffilo".
Literature: BB 1027; Comm. Vinciana, i (1928), 29 (recto), 28 (verso); Bodmer 118 (recto), 117 (verso); Popham 15 (recto), 16 (verso); Thiis, pp. 165 ff.; Poggi, pl. 56; K. Clark, Burlington, lxii (1933), p. 139; the same, Windsor, under no. 12569; Bottari, pl. 22; Giglioli, pp. 95 f., pl. LVII (recto), pl. LVI (verso) ; Venturi, pp. 74 ff.
Italian Roy XVc
1994, Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland, 'Raphael the pursuit of perfection', no. 17 2003 Jan-April, New York, Met Mus of Art, 'Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman' 2003 May-July, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 'Léonard de Vinci: Dessins et manuscrits', no. 17
23 March 2012
Reason for analysis
Leonardo Drawings Technical Examination ProformaThe Virgin and Child, three heads in profile and other sketches, PD 1860,0616.100
The proforma below contains results from a technical examination (based onimaging and chemical analysis) of a Leonardo da Vinci drawing undertaken between2011 and 2012 by the authors listed above. This proforma was produced as an ongoingrecord of work in progress and is therefore written in note form and requiressome explanation.1, Title and description fieldsThese are taken from the British Museum Merlin database record at the time atwhich the examination began. The current database entries may therefore havebeen updated and revised (in some cases to include the findings of this work).2, Materials fieldThese include the results of the examination. The methods used are based on thosegiven in Ambers, Higgitt and Saunders 2010.Drawings were first studied optically using magnification and/or raking andtransmitted light. They were then subject to technical imaging using the methodologygiven below. This included infrared (IR)-reflected imaging (two IR wavelengthranges were used; 800-1000 nm, termed here infrared-reflected imaging, and 800-1700 nm, termed here infrared reflectography), ultraviolet (UV)-reflected imaging andUV-induced visible luminescence imaging. IR- and UV-false colour images, whichmake interpretation easier by combining information from the visible image with thatfrom IR or UV images respectively, were also generated. Where drawings aremounted behind Perspex, photographs were taken through the Perspex cover, whichmay influence the appearance of the resulting images.The imaging results were then used to inform a strategy for X-ray fluorescence (XRF)and Raman spectroscopy to provide elemental and molecular informationrespectively, as required. Where definite material identifications were confirmed byXRF or Raman analysis, these are presented in bold text. Otherwise materials areinferred from imaging and visual examination only.These three steps were used iteratively and it was sometimes necessary to repeatstages in the light of the results obtained using other methods.3, ImagesA full suite of images is included (Figures 1 to 14).
Analysis reference number
Prints & Drawings
The Virgin and Child, three heads in profile and other sketches Metalpoint, with pen and brown ink, on prepared paper Verso: Three studies of the Virgin and Child, seated Pen and brown ink and metalpoint recto recto recto recto verso (photographed under ultra-violet light) verso verso verso recto recto recto verso
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Object reference number: PDO6927
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