(b. 1452, Vinci, d. 1519, Cloux, near Amboise)

The Madonna of the Carnation (detail)

Oil on panel, width of detail: 25 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

The authorship of this variation on the Madonna and Child theme was disputed for a long time. The work was attributed to both an unknown Flemish artist as well as to Verrocchio and Leonardo. Mary is holding a red carnation out to the Christ Child, who is attempting to grasp it. The vividness of the boy, and his well-observed, childishly clumsy movement does, however, suggest that it was Leonardo's work. The convincing plastic quality of the child suggests that during his early years Leonardo may have worked in three dimensions, using either clay or other sculptural techniques.