A conversion narrative

I meant to have added this observation to my previous post, but no matter. It’s another example of Leonardo da Vinci continuing the banter between himself and Sandro Botticelli.

On the left is detail from Botticelli’s Primavera painting; on the right, a later work by Leonardo, The Virgin and Child with St Anne. It’s a mix and match affair. Leonardo was responding to a narrative Botticelli disguised in some of his other paintings that touched on the personal life of the polymath.

In the Primavera detail, the hound in the corner is replaced by the lamb in Leonardo’s response. The figure of Flora is changed into St Anne (notice the elbow’s position and shaping). The wind god Zephyrus becomes the Virgin Mary, while the Christ child, with his head turned, is substituted for Chloris.

UPDATE: April 28, 2023

A correction to my interpretation of the hound being replaced by the lamb… The lamb, as a reference to the Lamb of God (Christ), becomes the figure of Chloris, as is the Christ Child. The hound reference appears elsewhere in Leonardo’s painting, which I will explain in a future post.