“The little picture he is doing is of a Madonna seated as if
she were about to spin a yarn. The child has placed his foot on the basket of
yarns and has grasped the yarn-winder and gazes attentively at the four spokes
that are in the form of a cross. As if desirous of the cross he smiles and
holds it firm, and is unwilling to yield it to his Mother who seems to want to
take it away from him”.
At this stage in his life, da Vinci seems more preoccupied
with his scientific studies rather than any attempts to complete paintings,
this is highlighted in Novella’s a previous letter to Isabella (3 April 1501).
“He has done nothing else save for the fact that two of his
apprentices are making copies and he puts his hand to one of them from time to
time. He is hard at work on geometry and has no time for the brush”.
Several versions of the painting exist, among these two are
considered to be of such quality that they can be attributed, at least in part,
to Leonardo himself. These are the Buccleuch Madonna and the Lansdowne Madonna.
The Buccleuch Madonna. 1500-1501
Oil on Walnut, 48.9 x 36.8 cm.
The 10th Duke of Buccleuch.
The Lansdowne Madonna. 1501
Oil on Wood, 50.2 x 36.4 cm.