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

Studies for a Nativity

Pen and brown ink, on pink prepared paper, 193 x 162 mm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Leonardo left hundreds of notebooks filled with drawings in which he explored ideas, compositions, or inventions. His curiosity led him to sketch and puzzle out diverse subjects, such as running water, growing plants, and human anatomy. The series of sketches on this sheet show Leonardo exploring a theme that would later emerge as the Virgin of the Rocks, in which the Virgin kneels over the infant Jesus, raising her right hand in benediction.