• gerard van weyenbergh

Victoria & Albert museum, in London, have possibly the only Leonardo da Vinci sculpture

An Italian art historian has claimed that a terracotta statuette depicting the Virgin holding in her arms a laughing baby Jesus held by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London would be in the hand of Leonardo da Vinci although those responsible for this museum are not convinced.

Francesco Caglioti of the University of Naples did not give up: this terracotta made around 1465 is in the hand of the master due to more than convincing details, especially in terms of the face of the Virgin and her drapery, and would therefore be the only one he had ever produced. To explain his discovery, he referred to comparisons with the painting by Vinci "The Annunciation" , executed between 1472 and 1475, in which the dress of the Virgin is similar to that of sculpture.

For the Victoria & Albert, this figure of 47.5 cm is certainly a most beautiful of his collection but for years she had been attributed to various artists of the 15 th century, including Verrocchio, Vinci or Desiderio da Sellignano before being described as the probable work of Antonio Rossellino when several Leonardo specialists have expressed doubts about Caglioti's claims.

For Frank Zollner, professor of Renaissance art at the University of Leipzig, Caglioti does not provide any valid proof, especially since no sculpture of Vinci has been identified to date. As for the smile of the Virgin, it is not exclusively a trademark of the master who had in fact imitated Verrocchio.

The Victoria & Albert indicated not to change the attribution of the work given to Rossellino, described in 1899 as that of Vinci, until more convincing elements have been brought. In the meantime, it will be exhibited in March at the Strozzi Palace in Florence as part of an exhibition dedicated to Verrocchio (1435-1488) who was Vinci's mentor, before being shown in September at the National Gallery in Washington . artcult.com