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Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, Vinci 1452–1519 Amboise), Sketches for the Virgin Adoring the Christ Child (recto), 1480–85. Silverpoint, partly reworked by the artist with pen and dark brown ink on pink prepared paper; lines ruled with metalpoint (recto); pen and brown ink (verso), 7 5/8 x 6 3/8 in. (19.3 x 16.2 cm). Rogers Fund, 1917; 17.142.1 © 2000–2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

These quick sketches of the Virgin, the Christ Child, and the Infant Saint John the Baptist offer insight into Leonardo's artistic practice. He approached the execution of his paintings as works in progress, and such sketches were the first of many stages that continually changed over a long period of time. This particular sheet can be related to Leonardo's altarpieces known as the Virgin of the Rocks (Musée du Louvre, Paris; National Gallery, London) and shows the artist focusing on the dynamic poses, the fall of light, and the gestures that indicate the psychological presence of the figures. Given the number of major works that the artist left incomplete, it is clear that he found it difficult to bring to a conclusion the process of evolution that so inspired him. 

This work is exhibited in the “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Invisible” exhibition, on view through September 4th, 2016. #MetBreuer