By Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti

Nationwide Gallery, Washington from the sequence nice museums of the realm.

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The Virgin Reading (circa 1500) 20". LEONARDO DA The young lady VINCI. is by Leonardo, according However, some scholars The calm di Credi. Ginevra de' Benci generally identified as the Ginevra de' Benci portrayed to old sources, before he left Florence for Milan. attribute the painting to Verrocchio or Lorenzo of the sitter does have affinities with the style of these but the elevated poetry of the characterization and the melting of artists, forms into the atmosphere can only be Leonardo's work, contemporary to his Adoration of the Magi.

The Virgin Reading Next to a marble balustrade a young woman in a white turban and a sumptuous pink and orange dress sits reading intently despite the distractions an ample landscape might offer her eye. The halo suggests she is a saint, once perhaps visible St. Catherine of Alexandria. The leg of the Christ Child on the cushion at the left indicates that this is a fragment of makes one think that the figure might be the a larger composition and Virgin reading while the Child played, perhaps with a bird, a flower, a butterfly or a Cross.

It is known that it was painted for one of rooms in the Castello at Ferrara and that the payments for the picture ended in 1514. But its style leads one to think that it must have been conceived much earlier and that it might be identified with a 1509 project for Isabella d'Este. The left-hand part of the landscape background is Titian's work; he altered the composition about 1530 (R. Pallucchini) to bring the picture into harmony with his own Bacchanals which were meant to decorate the same rooms.

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