'New' Da Vinci Work Is Unveiled

It's called 'The Virgin with the Laughing Child'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2019 3:38 PM CDT
Virgin Mary Work Is Only Surviving Leonardo Sculpture
The Virgin with the Laughing Child, 1472.   (Victoria & Albert Museum, London)

A smile, a laugh, a few folds, and presto—you have the only existing sculpture by Leonardo da Vinci. That's pretty much the takeaway after The Virgin with the Laughing Child was presented this week at an exhibition in Florence, NPR reports. An Italian academic and a Leonardo scholar from the Metropolitan Museum in New York were there to explain why the 20-inch-tall red clay work of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, previously attributed to artist Antonio Rossellino, was actually by the Renaissance master. For one thing, the Guardian reports, the folds over Madonna's legs resemble drapery drawings Leonardo did at the time.

Plus Mary's smile has an enigmatic feel reminiscent of the Mona Lisa, and baby Jesus is actually laughing—a nearly blasphemous portrayal back when the sculpture was made in 1472. Leonardo recalls in his notebooks getting in hot water for his version of an infant Christ, and this could be why. The Italian academic, Francesco Caglioti, also says the sculpture was attributed to Rossellino only because vastly influential art historian John Pope Hennessy, a Rossellino booster, said so "at his whim." The sculpture belongs to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and has since 1858. (Analysis shows Leonardo's edits to one of his drawings.)

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