The Virgin of the Rocks (da Vinci)

The Virgin of the Rocks (da Vinci)

Artist Leonard da Vinci

Date ca. 1485

Movement High Renaissance

Medium Oil on panel transferred to canvas

Dimensions 6’6″ x 4′

Housed at Musée du Louvre


This work was commissioned for a confraternity dedicated to the Immaculate Conception in Milan. During the Renaissance, the “humanization” of Christ became a popular topic for study; therefore, works depicting Christ’s earlier years became increasingly commonplace. Da Vinci employs sfumato to create a hazy atmosphere; as a result the figures appear much more naturally a part of the landscape in which they inhabit.


This work depicts St. John the Baptist kneeling towards Christ, who blesses his cousin in return; Christ is steadied by an angel, and the Virgin Mary connects the scene; the figures form a balanced and stable pyramid, lending a peaceful air to the scene which is accentuated by its dream-like haze.