Although elements of this painting, such as the vase of flowers and the Virgin’s hairstyle, call to mind works by Verrocchio, the assured handling of colour, particularly in the draperies and the landscape, support the attribution to Leonardo, as does the novelty of the overall pictorial design.
In this ambitious painting, Leonardo sets out to rethink the traditional representation of the Madonna and Child in Florentine painting. Perhaps influenced by Netherlandish paintings of a similar type, Leonardo situated the mother and child in a richly shaded, intimate, domestic interior. The forms of the figures are successfully modelled by in dramatic chiaroscuro lighting to achieve an unprecedented sense of plasticity of form. The dark interior is in sharp contrast to the brightly-lit and expansive landscape vista seen through the double windows behind, where vast mountains can be seen receding far into the distance.
Here, Leonardo continues to develop his innovative technique of aerial perspective, successfully replicating the effects of light and atmosphere in a new way through the application of colour.