Madonna and Child with Saint Anne - Leonardo da Vinci. C. 1510
Before us is a painting by Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1510) on a popular plot Holy Virgin with the Infant Christ and her mother, St. Anna. All the first years of the XVI century. Leonardo da Vinci worked on versions of this plot: a drawing with a somewhat excellent interpretation of the group, including St. John the Baptist in infancy (National Gallery, London), as well as the now lost cardboard, which caused a sensation when he was exhibited at the Monastery of the Annunciation in Florence in 1501.
Although St. Anna is depicted in her usual place, behind the Holy Virgin, all three figures are very lively and realistic. Moving away from the tradition of depicting Anna as an elderly matron, Leonardo da Vinci painted her unexpectedly young and attractive. She barely restrains her glee at the sight of the Baby. The ill-fated lamb in the arms of the Infant serves as an allusion to his future role as the lamb of God, an innocent sacrifice for the atonement of sins; nevertheless, the symbolic meaning of this lively family trio against the background of a hazy landscape is insignificant.
ST ANNA. The cult of Anna (1st century A.D.), the mother of the Virgin Mary, came to the West with Christian refugees persecuted by Muslim conquerors. Her earliest image (c. 650 CE) appeared in the church of Santa Maria Antiqua, in Rome, where she is depicted with the Holy Virgin. Around the 14th century St. Anna was already a popular figure in part because her motherhood at a later age confirmed the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. Usually she is portrayed with her daughter. Legend has it that she was married three times and had three daughters. In the Middle Ages, she was portrayed together with a large family, the so-called Holy Family, by various artists, for example, the Master St. Veronica. In 1479, the monks of the Carmelite Order in Frankfurt formed the brotherhood of St. Anna ordered an altar dedicated to her, on which were depicted sienna from her life.