DaVinci’s “St. Anne” at the Louvre

Last night we went to the new exposition at the Louvre of the recently cleaned and restored work by Leonardo Da Vinci referred to as the “Saint Anne”. Accompanying us were three French friends: Annie, Fabienne and Thomas. (Annie has degrees in art history and has been walking the halls of the Louvre since childhood.)

The painting as you can see includes Anne, the mother of Mary, Mary and the infant Jesus playing with a lamb. (symbolic of his coming sacrifice)

Here’s a few things I learned at the expo:

1. Da Vinci was basically a rock star at the time he painted this painting in the early 1500’s even despite the fact that France had captured part of Italy (not a very popular idea in Italy at the time) and that Leonardo had moved to France and had become real chummy with the French king – he was still massively popular in Italy.

2. This painting was so popular in its day that almost everyone who called themselves a painter was compelled to copy it or paint their version of it. Even after Da Vinci took it to France, his students were using Leonardo’s sketches as a basis for their versions. The expo at the Louvre displays several of these copies.

3. Da Vinci thought long and hard about this painting. The expo displays many of his sketches and pondering about the details: the feet of each figure, the way that the folds in Mary’s robe lay, Mary and Anne’s hair, how chunky looking baby Jesus was going to be, which way they would be facing…right or left, etc. I’m not sure of the exact dates but these sketches seem to range at least a decade, maybe two. He even drew three full size drawings of his idea!

4. The painting is not even finished! There seems to be some of the background that hasn’t been completely filled out.

5. The painting hung in the Louvre for centuries and became darkened due to the yellowing varnishes. There also seemed to be problems with the blue paint he used in Mary’s robe. Part of the recent cleaning and restoration took care of those issues. I’m sure at other sites you can read much more about those details, if your are interested.

6. My favorite thing in the expo, however, was not the famous painting but this sketch of the face of Mary. Exquisite, non? Click on the photo to the left and take a look at Mary’s eyes. I love her hair, the braids, her mouth….Doesn’t the slight smile remind you of another Da Vinci painting? I think this version is far better than the final version, but hey, what do I know?

Thanks for enduring to the end. I mainly wanted you to see this mesmerizing sketch by the master, Da Vinci….hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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