By LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519)

A melancholy interest attaches to this picture owing to the irreparable loss which the world has sustained by its theft from the Louvre not so very long ago. Vasari, a famous Italian critic who lived in Italy in Leonardo's day, says of it: " Let him who wants to know how far Art can imitate Nature realise it by examining this head ... it is a work that is divine rather than human."

The painter was one of the wonder-men of the world. Born at Vinci, between Pisa and Florence, he became a painter, sculptor, architect, and engineer, and achieved renown in all these capacities. At the age of twenty-eight he went to the East as engineer to the Sultan of "Babylon," or Cairo, and in later years he planned a system of hydraulic irrigation for the plains of Lombardy. In 1500 he entered the service of Caesar Borgia as architect and engineer, and four years later he finished this half-length portrait of "the woman with the inscrutable smile," which is accounted his most celebrated easel picture.

His famous " Last Supper" was painted on the walls of the refectory in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. It has suffered from frequent restoration, necessitated by the dampness of the walls and the method of painting in oil upon plaster, but it still remains one of the world's masterpieces.

Leonardo was not content with an easy adherence to known rules, but achieved his style by a thorough and painstaking study of Nature. His known works are few in number, but English people are fortunate in being able to study and enjoy a representative picture in the National Gallery, while the finest series of his drawings are in the British Museum and at Windsor.

From the book "Famous Paintings" Volume 2 printed in 1913.

Large files of this public domain print are available at Stock Photos at Songs of Praise
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Online "Name the Painting"

The Day the Mona Lisa Was Stolen

"The Last Supper"
at Olga's Gallery

Restoration of "The Last Supper"

Leonardo Da Vinci
Online book by Maurice W. Brockwell

Mona Lisa
art project for children

Famous Paintings in this Series

James Archer
My Great Grandmother

The Meeting


John Brett
From the Dorsetshire Cliffs

Arnesby Brown
The River Bank

Joseph Clark
Mother's Darling

John Constable
The Hay-Wain

Jean Baptiste Camille
The Fisherman's Hut

Jean Baptiste Camille
A Flood

Leonardo Da Vinci
Monna Lisa

Edouard Detaille
The Dream

Henri Fantin-Latour

Thomas Gainsborough
Queen Charlotte

Thomas Gainsborough
The Market Cart

Jean Baptiste Greuze
The Head of a Girl

Jean Baptiste Greuze

James Clark Hook
Home With the Tide

Alfred William Hunt
Windsor Castle

Josef Israels
The Shipwrecked Mariner

B.W. Leader
The Stream in Summer-time

Madame Vigee Le Brun
Portrait of the Artist

Alphonse Legros
A Canal With a Fisherman

Anton Mauve
Watering Horses

J.L.E. Meissonier
The Cavalier

Sir J.E. Millais
Speak! Speak!

Sir J.E. Mallais
My First Sermon

George Morland
The Reckoning

George Morland
The Inside of a Stable

The Immaculate Conception
of the Virgin

Alfred Parsons
When Nature Painted
All Things Gay

Ralph Peacock
The Sisters

Syndics of the
Cloth Merchants' Guild

Guido Reni
"Ecce Homo"

Sir Joshua Reynolds
Portrait of Mrs. Richard Hoare
With Her Infant Son

Briton Riviere
The Temptation
in the Wilderness

Dante Gabriel
Day Dreams

John Singer Sargent
Miss Ellen Terry
as Lady Macbeth

Lady Stanley
(Dorothy Tennant)
His First Offence

Jan Steen
Grace Before Meat

Marcus Stone
On the Road from
Waterloo to Paris

Constant Troyon
Watering Cattle

H.S. Tuke
"All Hands to the Pumps"

King Philip IV. of Spain

S.E. Waller
Sweethearts and Wives

Thomas Webster
The Smile

Famous Paintings Volume 1
Art Gallery

Famous Paintings Volume 2
Art Gallery

Art Appreciation