MELZI, Francesco
(b. 1493, Milano, d. 1570, Milano)

St Anne with the Virgin and the Child Embracing a Lamb

Oil on panel, 99 x 72 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

This painting is a fairly faithful copy of Leonardo's The Virgin and Child with St Anne in the Louvre. The picture in Florence differs from Leonardo's in the landscape, which is entirely reformulated here, and a few, yet significant, details, such as the foreground in which an alluvial riverbank is replaced by a sumptuous meadow. A possible explanation of the differences could be that the painter of the Florence version used as model not Leonardo's painting but his cartoon (now lost) which probably showed only the figures without Leonardo's final alterations, and no landscape at all.

Traditionally the painting is attributed to Gian Giacomo Caprotti, called Salai, Leonardo's rakish and ill-reputed pupil. However, on basis of stylistic similarities with Melzi's signed Vertumnus and Pomona, it is now attributed to Francesco Melzi.