Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Leda and the Swan

Bachiacca (Francesco d'Ubertino Verdi) (Italian, Florence 1494–1557 Florence)
Oil on wood
Overall 16 7/8 x 12 1/2 in. (42.9 x 31.8 cm); painted surface 16 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (41.9 x 31.8 cm)
Credit Line:
The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 537
Oscar Bondy, Vienna, later Switzerland and New York (by 1929–d. 1944; seized by the Nazis for the Führer Museum, Linz; inv., n.d., as "Oelbild, Leda auf Schwan sitzend," in the Renaissancezimmer; sent in 1941 from Kremsmünster to the Kunstmuseum Linz; Bondy inv. no. 1372, "v.Conninxlo, Leda"); Mrs. Oscar Bondy, New York (1944–at least 1946; at Alt Aussee salt mines, Austria, in 1945; Bondy inv. nos. 1372, "Leda mit Schwan und 5 Putten, Oel auf Holz ital.Manier," and 1685 B 1372, "Conningslo, Mytholg.Darstellung"; almost certainly restituted along with rest of collection); Mr. and Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (by 1949–his d. 1980); Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (1980–82)
Los Angeles County Museum. "Leonardo da Vinci," June 3–July 17, 1949, no. 7 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Jack Linsky).

Baltimore Museum of Art. "Bacchiacca and His Friends," January 10–February 19, 1961, no. 8 (lent by Mr. Jack Linsky).


Wilhelm Suida. Leonardo und sein Kreis. Munich, 1929, p. 245.

Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 36, lists it in Oscar Bondy's collection in Vienna; attributes it to Bacchiacca.

Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 31, attributes it to Bacchiacca; lists it as part of the Oscar Bondy collection in Vienna.

Roberto Salvini in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 33, Leipzig, 1939, p. 523, attributes it to Bacchiacca.

William E. Suida in Leonardo da Vinci. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum. Los Angeles, 1949, pp. 75–76, no. 7, ill., indicates that it was sold in March 1949 in New York.

Gertrude Rosenthal in Bacchiacca and His Friends. Exh. cat., Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore, 1961, p. 8, fig. 8.

Howard S. Merritt in Bacchiacca and His Friends. Exh. cat., Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore, 1961, p. 32 n. 9, states that the pose of the child clutching the egg at left is derived from a cupid riding a satyr in Perugino's "Battle of Chastity and Love" (Louvre, Paris).

Gertrude Rosenthal. "Il Bacchiacca at Baltimore." Connoisseur 149 (January 1962), p. 61, fig. 8.

Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School. London, 1963, vol. 1, p. 20; vol. 2, pl. 1247.

John Shearman. Andrea del Sarto. Oxford, 1965, p. 216, notes that the swan in our picture is derived from Andrea del Sarto's version of this subject (Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels), and that the left background is based on a print by Lucas van Leyden.

Lada Nikolenko. Francesco Ubertini called "Il Bacchiacca". Locust Valley, N.Y., 1966, pp. 18, 50, fig. 45, argues that Bacchiacca undermines the innocence of the Leda's nudity by giving her decorative accessories and posing her on the back of a large swan; dates this painting to about 1525.

Charles D. Colbert. "Bacchiacca in the Context of Florentine Art." PhD diss., Harvard University, 1979, p. 62 [see Ref. La France 2002].

Silvia Meloni Trkulja in Firenze e la Toscana dei Medici nell'Europa del Cinquecento: Il primato del disegno. Exh. cat., Palazzo Strozzi. Florence, 1980, p. 60.

Alessandro Vezzosi in Leonardo e il Leonardismo a Napoli e a Roma. Ed. Alessandro Vezzosi. Exh. cat., Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples. Florence, 1983, p. 111, no. 201, fig. 201.

Keith Christiansen in The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, pp. 43–44, no. 11, ill. (color), discusses the subject in detail and Bacchiacca's four other versions of it; identifies the three children hatching from one egg in the present picture as Castor, Pollux, and Helen, and the two children at the left as Clytemnestra and Phoebe, based on Euripedes (Iphigenia at Aulus) and the medieval text known as the First Vatican Mythographer, as well as the fourteenth-century Ovide Moralisé, the last two of which state that Castor, Pollux, and Helen all emerged from a single egg; calls this painting the most individual and accomplished of the versions and believes it is also most likely to be the earliest.

Denys Sutton. "The Linsky Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Apollo, n.s., 122 (July 1985), p. 9, fig. 6.

Roberta Bartoli in Leonardo e il mito di Leda. Ed. Gigetta Dalli Regoli et al. Exh. cat., Palazzino Uzielli del Museo Leonardiana Vinci. Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), 2001, unpaginated, under no. III.8.

Robert G. La France. "Francesco d'Ubertino Verdi, il Bachiacca (1494–1557): 'diligente dipintore'." PhD diss., Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 2002, pp. 382–84, no. 36, suggests that the convex nature of the panel means that the painting served as a piece of furniture; argues that the figure of Leda is based entirely on Saint John's mistress in Dürer's print of the "Penance of Saint John Chrysostom," and also resembles Franciabigio's Bathsheba in his "David and Bathsheba" in Dresden; dates it to around 1525.

Sophie Lillie. Was einmal war: Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens. Vienna, 2003, p. 229.

Birgit Schwarz. Hitlers Museum, Die Fotoalben "Gemäldegalerie Linz": Dokumente zum "Führermuseum". Vienna, 2004, pp. 119, 499, no. V/18b, ill. p. 253 (reproduction of page from photo album), gives details of the Nazi seizure of this picture, stating that it was restituted to the Austrian Republic in 1946 and returned to the owner in 1948.

Giovanni Maria Fara. Albrecht Dürer: originali, copie, derivazioni. Florence, 2007, p. 114, under no. 45, notes that Leda's pose derives from Dürer's print "The Penance of Saint John Chrysostum".

Robert G. La France. Bachiacca: Artist of the Medici Court. Florence, 2008, pp. 26, 67, 102, 107, 153, 187, 293, no. 42, colorpl. XXVIII, dates it to the end of the 1520s, after his other versions of this subject; attributes the I Tatti picture to the workshop; suggests that Bacchiacca painted series, such as the Leda pictures, "on spec, implying a marketing and exportation of art".

Serena Padovani in The Alana Collection. Ed. Miklós Boskovits. Vol. 2, Italian Paintings and Sculptures from the Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century. Florence, 2011, pp. 32–33, 36 n. 24.

Robert G. La France in Carl Brandon Strehlke and Machtelt Brüggen Israëls. The Bernard and Mary Berenson Collection of European Paintings at I Tatti. Florence, 2015, p. 112, fig. 6.1.

Other versions of this subject by Bachiacca are at Villa I Tatti, Settignano; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Troyes; Museum Boijmans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; and formerly with Julius Böhler.

The picture is painted on a panel with an intentionally convex surface. The vertical edges have been cut, though probably not very much. On the whole the condition is good. There are scattered minor losses and a few larger ones in the foreground and on the left wing of the swan. The picture was cleaned in 1983.

For identification of mythological subject matter, see Christiansen 1984. Suida (1949) notes that Leda's pose derives from a print by Dürer, The Penance of Saint John Chrysostum, and Shearman (1965) identifies the source of the buildings in the left background as a print of The Prodigal Son by Lucas van Leyden of 1510. Nikolenko (1966) dates the picture about 1525.
Related Objects

Eve with Cain and Abel

Artist: Bachiacca (Francesco d'Ubertino Verdi) (Italian, Florence 1494–1557 Florence) Date: 1520s Medium: Tempera and oil on wood Accession: 38.178 On view in:Not on view

Young Man Standing in Profile Facing Left (recto); Sketch of Two Capitals (verso)

Artist: Bachiacca (Francesco d'Ubertino Verdi) (Italian, Florence 1494–1557 Florence) Date: 1494–1557 Medium: Red chalk Accession: 1999.405a, b On view in:Not on view

Madonna and Child

Artist: Bachiacca (Francesco d'Ubertino Verdi) (Italian, Florence 1494–1557 Florence) Date: possibly early 1520s Medium: Oil and gold on wood Accession: 1982.60.10 On view in:Gallery 537