Leonardo's Geology: The Authenticity of the Virgin of the Rocks

By Ann Pizzorusso

There are two versions of Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks, the first in the Louvre, and the second in the National Gallery of London.  There has been some debate as to whether Leonardo painted the National Gallery version.  So far, research on the two works had centered upon an analysis of historical documents.  Ann Pizzorusso, a geologist, has studied Leonardo’s paintings and drawings from a geological perspective.  Based on the geological differences noted between the two paintings of the Virgin of the Rocks, she concludes that Leonardo did not paint the rocks in the National Gallery work. Based on her findings, art historians have now called into question the figures. They are highly critical of the way the figures are portrayed and with the background and figures in dispute, the entire painting’s attribution must be reevaluated.  READ MORE

(Photo, left) Virgin of the Rocks, Louvre, 1483-86, Leonardo da Vinci