La Madonna Litta is a bright, vivid tempera on canvas, painted between the years of 1490 and 1491, during the High Renaissance period, after Leonardo Da Vinci moved to Milan. It portrays La Madonna, the Virgin Mary breastfeeding Christ. The portrait is set on dark interior construction. Behind them, there are arched windows from where it’s possible to observe a landscape with a blue sky and bright clouds and a set of mountains on the back. Both windows have a perspective detail where it’s possible to observe the color of the construction where the Madonna and Christ would be standing. The figures are standing right in the middle of both windows, and the whole painting has a very symmetrical and a regular, stable atmosphere.
The Madonna is dressed in a scarlet color and has a gold and blue mantle over her shoulders. Both the mantle and her vestments are deeply detailed, and it’s possible to observe the golden pattern on the fabric on the red dress. Virgin Mary as a hairpiece entangled in her hair forming a thin transparent veil. She has an innocent motherly facial expression and looks directly at baby Jesus. On her hands runs the same veil from her hair.
The Christ child, while breastfeeding, is looking at the viewer and holds on his left hand a small goldfinch.
Whether Da Vinci truly painted this piece a matter of research and controversy. Despite the existence of a series of notes and sketches that work as evidence that the piece was indeed idealized and created by Leonardo Da Vinci, some suggest that his pupil Boltraffio completed it. Nonetheless, some researchers have concluded that the hand of a single artist painted it.
At the same time that the shape of the Madonna and the Child are often not recognizable as Leonardo Da Vinci’s work, it could be the result of the work with a different media as tempera, that would make Da Vinci’s characteristic sfumato technique hardest to achieve and possibly produce a different result.
Several families have owned this painting, but it’s currently located in Saint Petersburg, in the Hermitage Museum.
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