Designs for a Nativity or Adoration of the Christ Child; Perspectival Projection (recto); Slight Doodles (verso)

Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, Vinci 1452–1519 Amboise)

Silverpoint, partly reworked with pen and dark brown ink on pink prepared paper; lines ruled with metalpoint (recto); pen and brown ink (verso)
7-5/8 x 6-3/8 in. (19.3 x 16.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1917
Accession Number:
  • Description

    In these dazzling sketches of the Virgin kneeling in humility before the Christ Child, who lies on the ground, Leonardo investigated a theme that he would also use in the Virgin of the Rocks (Musée du Louvre, Paris; and National Gallery, London), in which the Virgin kneels facing the spectator, her right hand raised in blessing over the seated Infant Jesus. The composition in the center is closest to the Virgin of the Rocks. These sketches, however, seem more closely related to an undocumented painting from around 1483-85 by Leonardo that must have been brought at least to the stage of a complete cartoon (full-scale drawing); several contemporary painted copies of this composition survive. Leonardo explored a number of solutions to the same theme on the sheet with dazzling fluency. He used the traditional fifteenth-century medium of metalpoint but reinforced the shadows with pen and ink for a deeper tonal contrast. The geometric constructions at the lower right represent his attempts to work out the perspective within the composition, with respect to the spectator's vantage point.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: [in pen and brown ink at upper border of old mount]: de la main de Leonardo da Vinci

    Marking: Metropolitan Museum of Art stamp removed from center of lower margin of recto in February 1969. When the original negative was made in 1917 (37134 tf B) the stamp had not yet been applied. In 1963 when a new negative was made (177999 8 x 10) the stamp was visible. No recent photograph recording that the drawing no longer has the stamp has been taken.

  • Provenance

    Jacques Guillaume Legrand (French, Paris, 1743–1807); Joseph Allen Smith (London and Charleston, South Carolina); Thomas Sully (American, Horncastle, Lincolnshire 1783–1872 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); Francis T. S. Darley ; Thomas Nash (New York, 1861–1926)(bequeathed by Darley)

  • Exhibition History

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "100 European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art".

    Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Diamond Jubilee Exhibition, Masterpieces of Drawing (Philadelphia)," November 4, 1950–February 11, 1951.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings from New York Collections I: The Italian Renaissance," November 8, 1965–January 9, 1966.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 14, 1970–February 14, 1971.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Leonardo da Vinci and His Followers in the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," March 5, 1981–June 7, 1981.

    Palazzo Grassi. "Leonardo & Venice (Venice)," April 4, 1992–July 13, 1992.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," October 6, 1997–January 4, 1998.

    Gibbes Museum of Art. "In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad, 1740-1860 (Charleston)," April 8, 1999–July 3, 1999.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," September 11, 2000–December 4, 2000.

    Palazzo Reale, Comune di Milano. "Il Genio e le Passioni, Leonardo e il Cenacolo: innovazioni, precedenti, riflessi di un capolavoro (Milan)," March 15, 2001–June 17, 2001.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Leonardo da Vinci: Master Draftsman," January 22, 2003–March 30, 2003.

    Musée du Louvre. "Leonard de Vinci. Dessins et manuscrits," May 5, 2003–July 14, 2013.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Raphael at the Metropolitan: The Colonna Altarpiece (New York)," June 20, 2006–September 3, 2006.

    National Gallery, London. "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan (London)," November 9, 2011–February 5, 2012.

  • References

    J. W. Lieb "Elenco e analisi...: Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Jork, october 1918." in Raccolta Vinciana. vol. 10, 1919, pp. 259-60.

    Bryson Burroughs "Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci on Exhibition." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 13, no. 10, New York, October 1918, pp. 214-17, ill.

    Emil Möller "Zwei bisher unerkannte Bildnisse der Mona Lisa" in Monatshefte für Kunstwissenschaft. vol. 11, 1918, pp. 219-20.

    Adolfo Venturi "Leonardo da Vinci pittore" in Istituto di Studii Vinciani in Roma. vol. 2, Bologna, 1920, p. 89.

    Bernard Berenson "Un possible Antonello da Messina ed uno impossibile." in Dedalo. vol. 4, 1923, pp. 21, 29.

    Adolfo Venturi Storia dell'arte italiana: Vol. 9: La Pittura del Cinquecento. vol. 9, parts 1-2, Milan, 1925, p. 120.

    Aldo De Rinaldis Storia dell'opera pittorica di Leonardo da Vinci. Bologna, 1926, p. 51.

    Osvald Sirén Léonard de Vinci: L'artiste et l'homme: Edition entièrement refondue et mis à jour.. 3 vols., Paris and Brussels, 1928, fig. no. pl. 54, p. 41, ill.

    Anny E. Popp Leonardo da Vinci: Zeichnungen. Munich, 1928, cat. no. 19, pp. 6, 37, ill.

    Emil Möller "Die Madonna mit den Spielenden Kindern aus der Werkstatt Leonardos" in Zeitschrift für BildendenKunst. vol. 62, 1928-1929, pp. 219-20.

    Wilhelm Suida Leonardo und sein Kreis. Munich, 1929, fig. no. pl. 49, pp. 51, 270, ill.

    Tancred Borenius "Leonardo's Madonna with the Children at Play" in The Burlington Magazine. vol. 56 (no. 324), March. 1930.

    Nando De Toni I manoscritti e i disegni di Leonardo da Vinci pubblicati dalla Reale Commissione Vinciana sotto gli auspici del Ministero della istruzione pubblica. Disegni. I (1928), II (1930), III (1934-42), IV (1936-45), V (1939-47), VI (1949), VII (1952). Edited with epilogue by Adolfo Venturi, 8 vols., Rome, 1928-1952, fig. no. vol. II, pl. 40, vol. II, p. 25, ill.

    Heinrich Bodmer "Leonardo: Des Meisters Gemälde und Zeichnungen." Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben. 37, Stuttgart and Berlin, 1931, pp. 149, 386, ill.

    Woldemar von Seidlitz Leonardo da Vinci: Der Wendepunkt der Renaissance. Revised edition. Vienna, 1935, fig. no. pl. 54, ill.

    Bernard Berenson The Drawings of the Florentine Painters. 3 vols., amplified edition. Chicago, 1938, cat. no. 1049 C (vol. III), fig. no. 484 (vol. III), pp. 171-72, n. 1 (vol. I), p. 116 (vol. II), ill.

    Sir Kenneth Clark Leonardo da Vinci: An Account of His Development as an Artist. 2nd editon 1952. Cambridge, 1939, fig. no. pl. 20, p. 42, ill.

    Italian Drawings. Exh. cat. Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, 1941, fig. no. 35.

    Walter Mehring European Drawings from the Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Portfolio of Collotype Reproductions [Vol. 1: Italian Drawings; Vol. 2: Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British drawings; Vol. 3: "New Series": Italian, Flemish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, and British drawings]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 3 vols., New York, 1942-1944, also in N.S., no. 2., cat. no. 8 (vol.1), fig. no. 8, ill.

    Ludwig Goldscheider Leonardo da Vinci. London and New York, 1943, cat. no. 81.

    Robert Langton Douglas Leonardo da Vinci: His Life and his Pictures. Chicago, 1944, pp. 77-78.

    Ludwig H. Heydenreich "Review of The Drawing of Leonardo da Vinci, by A. E. Popham" in Phoebus. vol. 1, nos. 3-4, 1946, p. 182.

    Hans Tietze European Master Drawings in the United States. J. J. Augustin, New York, 1947, cat. no. 21, fig. no. 159, pp. 42-43, ill.

    A. E. Popham Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. London, 1949, fig. no. pl. 159, pp. 69-70, 149, ill.

    Diamond Jubilee Exhibition: Masterpieces of Drawings. Exh. cat., November 4, 1950 - February 11, 1951. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1950, cat. no. 21, ill.

    Giulia Brunetti et al. Quinto centenario della nascita di Leonardo da Vinci: Mostra di disegni, manoscritti d documenti. Exh. cat. Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence, 1952, p. 17, under no.

    Ludwig H. Heydenreich Leonardo da Vinci [vol. I, 1943; vol. II, 1954]. 2 vols., New York and Basel, 1954, fig. no. vol. II, pl. 34, pp. I-p.60, II-p, ill.

    Giorgio Castelfranco La pittura di Leonardo da Vinci. Milan, 1956, fig. no. 43, pp. 32, 58.

    Ludwig Goldscheider Leonardo da Vinci: Life and Work, Paintings and Drawings, with the Leonardo Bibliography by Vasari, 1568. 6th edition, revised. London, 1959, fig. no. 70, p. 168.

    Jakob Rosenberg Great Draughtsmen from Pisanello to Picasso. Cambridge, MA, 1959, p. 22.

    Bernard Berenson, Luisa Vertova I disegni dei pittori fiorentini. 3 vols., Revised and enlarged. Milan, 1961, cat. no. 1049C (vol. III), fig. no. 475 (vol. III), pp. I-251-52 (vol. II), ill.

    Winslow Ames Great Drawings of All Time. Volume I: Italian, Thirteenth through Nineteenth Century. Edited by Ira Moskowitz, vol. 1, New York, 1962, cat. no. 153, ill.

    Charles De Tolnay "Quelques dessins inédits de Léonard de Vinci." Raccolta Vinciana. vol. 19, Milan, 1962, fig. no. 13, pp. 110-11, ill.

    Italian Drawings from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century. London, 1963, cat. no. 153.

    Jacob Bean 100 European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York Graphic Society, New York, 1964, cat. no. no. 3, ill.

    Jacob Bean, Felice Stampfle Drawings from New York Collections, Vol. I: The Italian Renaissance. Ex. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1965, cat. no. 15, fig. no. 15, p. 26, ill.

    Giorgio Castelfranco Studi vinciani. Rome, 1966, fig. no. 23, 24, pp. 203, 212.

    Sir Kenneth Clark, Carlo Pedretti The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle. 3 vols., 2nd revised (1st edition 1935). London, 1968-1969, vol. I, pp. 105-.

    B. Bacall A Catalogue of the Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and his School in the United States of America M.A. thesis, directed by Carlo Pedretti. Master's thesis, 1968 cat. no. 3.

    Jack Wasserman "A Re-discovered Cartoon by Leonardo da Vinci." in The Burlington Magazine. vol. 112, no. 805, April 1970, p. 198.

    Sir Kenneth Clark Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. Exh. cat., November 14, 1970 - February 14, 1971. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, E. P. Dutton and Company, New York, 1970, fig. no. 218, p. 222, ill.

    Carlo Pedretti Leonardo da Vinci: Studies for a Nativity and the 'Mona Lisa Cartoon' with Drawings after Leonardo from the Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana Exh. cat., in Honor of Elmer Belt, M. D. on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, University of California, Los Angeles. Los Angeles, University of California, 1973, fig. no. 4, pp. 13-17, 31-34, ill.

    Carlo Pedretti Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style. Berkley and Los Angeles, 1973, pp. 59-60.

    Cecil Gould Leonardo: The Artist and the Non-Artist. Boston and London, 1975, fig. no. 35, pp. 75-76.

    Carlo Pedretti The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci. Compiled and Edited from the Original Manuscripts by Jean Paul Richter Commentary. 2 vols., Berkely and Los Angeles, 1977, vol. I, p. 378.

    Leonardo da Vinci and His Followers in the Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Exh. (no catalogue): March 5 - June 7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1981.

    Alessandro Vezzosi et al. Leonardo dopo Milano: La Madonna dei fusi (1501). Exh. cat., Vinci, Castello dei Conti Guidi. Florence, 1982, fig. no. 84, pp. 27, 31 n. 24.

    Pierluigi De Vecchi "La Vergine delle Rocce." in Dell' Aqua. 1982, fig. no. 19, 20, p. 50.

    Jacob Bean, Lawrence Turcic 15th and 16th Century Italian Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1982, cat. no. 107, pp. 114-15, ill.

    Pietro C. Marani L' Architettura fortificata negli studi di Leonardo da Vinci, con il catalogo completo dei disegni. Florence, 1984, p. 13.

    Angela Ottino della Chiesa, Mario Pomilio, L. D. Ettlinger L' opera completa di Leonardo pittore. English edition (Italian edition Milan 1967). London, 1985, p. 111.

    Carlo Pedretti Leonardo da Vinci, Engineer and Architect. Exh. cat., Montreal, The Montreal Museum of Art. Edited by Paolo Galluzzi, Montreal, 1987, pp. 17-18.

    Sir Kenneth Clark, Martin Kemp Leonardo da Vinci. Revised edition (1st edition 1939, 2nd edition 1959). London, 1988, fig. no. 34, pp. 90-93.

    Pietro C. Marani Leonardo: Catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1989, pp. 114, under n.

    Giovanni Nepi Sciré, Pietro C. Marani Leonardo & Venice. (Italian edition: Leonardo & Venezia) Exh. cat., Palazzo Grassi, Venice (Apr. 4 - Jul. 5, 1992). April 4 - July 5. Venice, 1992, (entry by Martin Clayton), cat. no. 7, pp. 202-203, ill.

    Carlo Pedretti, Patricia Trutty-Coohill The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and His Circle in America. Florence, 1993, cat. no. 7, pp. 40-42.

    Philippe de Montebello Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Barbara Burn et al., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1993, p. 108, ill.

    Carlo Pedretti "Excursus: Un gioco di simboli per bambini." in Achademia Leonardo Vinci: Journal of Leonardo Studies and Bibliography of Vinciana. vol. 7, 1994, fig. no. 8, p. 96.

    Pietro C. Marani Leonardo. Milan, 1994, p. 13.

    A. E. Popham, Martin Kemp The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. Revised (1st edition 1945). London, 1994, cat. no. 159.

    Michael Wiemers Bildform und Werkgenese: Studien zur zeichnerischen Bildvorbereitung in der italienischen Malerei zwischen 1450 und 1490. Munich and Berlin, 1996, fig. no. 270, pp. 282-84.

    Daniel Arasse Léonard de Vinci: Le rythme du monde. Paris, 1997, fig. no. 219, pp. 320, 322.

    Otto Letze, Thomas Buchsteiner Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist Exh. cat., Boston, Museum of Science, Tübingen, Institut für Kulturaustausch. Tübingen, 1997, p. 72.

    Pietro C. Marani in L'Ambrosiana e Leonardo. Exh. cat., Biblioteca-Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan. Edited by Marco Rossi, and Alessandro Rovetta, Biblioteca Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan, Milan, 1998-1999, pp. 26-27,under, ill.

    Daniel Arasse Leonardo da Vinci: The Rhythm of the World. New York, 1998, fig. no. 219, pp. 319, 322.

    Claudia Echinger-Maurach "Ein Entwurf Michelangelos für den Tondo Pitti und seine Beziehungen zu Leonardo da Vinci, zu antiken Werken und zu Raffael." in Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz. vol. 42, nos. 2-3, Florence, 1998, fig. no. 7, pp. 278-282, ill.

    Leonardo da Vinci: I documenti e le testimonianze contemporanee. Edited by Edoardo Villata, Milan, 1999, cat. no. 107, p. 92.

    Maurie D. McInnis , et al. In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad 1740-1860 Exh. cat., Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina, April 9 - July 3, 1999. Columbia, South Carolina, University of South Carolina Press, 1999, (entry by Carmen C. Bambach), cat. no. under no. 49, fig. no. 81, p. 185., ill.

    Pietro C. Marani Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings With an appendix of documents transcribed by Edoardo Villata. New York, 2000, pp. 79-83.

    Pietro C. Marani Il genio e le passioni, Leonardo e il Cenacolo: Precedenti, innovazioni, riflessi di un capolavoro Exh. cat., Palazzo Reale, Milan. Milan and Florence, 2001, (entry by Pietro C. Marani), cat. no. 24, pp. 118-119.

    Gigetta Dalli Regioli, Romano Nanni, Antonio Natali Leonardo e il mito di Leda: Modelli, memorie e metamorfosi di un'invenzione. Exh. cat., Vinci, Palazzina Uzielli del Museo Leonardiano. Cinisello Balsamo, 2001, fig. no. 13, pp. 19-20, ill.

    Françoise Viatte, Varena Forcione Leonard de Vinci. Dessins et manuscrits. Exh. cat.: Paris, Musée du Louvre, May 5 - July 14. Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2003, (entry by Carmen C. Bambach), cat. no. 36, fig. no. 36, p. 133, pp. 132-134, ill.

    Carmen C. Bambach Leonardo da Vinci: Master Draftsman. Exh. cat.: January 22 - March 30, 2003. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Press , New Haven and London, 2003, (entry by Carmen C. Bambach), cat. no. 45, fig. no. 24, pp. 35-36, 366-3, ill.

    Linda Wolk-Simon "Raphael at the Metropolitan: The Colonna Altarpiece." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006, p. 74, ill.

    Luke Syson, Larry Keith Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan. Ex. cat., The National Gallery, London. London, 2011, (entry by Luke Syson), cat. no. 39, pp.182-83, ill.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History