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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

The head of the Madonna c.1510-15

Red and black chalk, brush and dilute ink and white heightening on pale red prepared paper | 24.4 x 18.7 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 912534

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A study of the Madonna's head turned three quarters to left and bent slightly forward. She wears a veil bound around her head, which hangs forward neatly over her forehead. Leonardo's hand is evident only in the intricate headdress, for the face was worked up later by another artist, following the Leonardesque type of large features and a downcast glance found subsequently throughout Milanese art. No headdress in this form occurs in any work by Leonardo, though there is evidence of four late paintings of the Madonna and Child of which no trace survives, and the drawing could in principle have been a study for one of these. Text adapted from 'Leonardo da Vinci: the Divine and the Grotesque'