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The Madonna and Child with St Anne

The subject of the Madonna and Child with St Anne, with either a lamb or the infant St John the Baptist, occupied Leonardo for the last two decades of his life. The original commission possibly came from the French king Louis XII after his invasion of Milan in 1499. Leonardo produced three full-size compositions, of which a cartoon (National Gallery, London) and a painting (Louvre, Paris) survive. The painting was begun around 1508 and was recorded in Leonardo’s studio in France, still in progress, in 1517. Leonardo executed his detailed studies as work on the painting progressed, and they are thus of a range of techniques and dates.

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