The famous Leonardo Da Vinci was a man of many talents and interests. Of the multiple aspects of his personality, Vinci’s huge love for animals has been one of the most celebrated ones. And guess what? The man’s immense affection towards animals reflects evidently in his paintings and artworks as well.
It is said that Da Vinci grew up on a farm full of animals, and that’s exactly where his tryst with these fellow creatures began. Later in his life, the great artist always had cats, dogs, birds, and reptiles all around his place and in his studio. In fact, Vinci used to buy caged animals only to set them free. What a man!
Leonardo Da Vinci’s love for animals is truly intriguing, isn’t it? Well, let us take you on a deep dive into this passion of his through some of the prominent Leonardo da Vinci paintings. In this article, we list out for you a number of Da Vinci paintings themed around animals and human-animal bonding. Let’s get started!
Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (Lady with an Ermine) 1483-90
The portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, known more prominently as the Lady with an Ermine, is one of the most elegant, beautiful, and touching depictions of a human figure by Vinci. However, what makes the artwork truly special is the way Cecilia has been shown holding the heraldic animal of Ludovico il Moro in her arms.
While the stunning facial traits of Cecilia masterly captured by Vinci will surely catch your first attention, you won’t be able to miss the underlying affection between the Lady and the Ermine either. Reading further into the painting, it shows the Lady slowly turning out of her shadow towards the bright side while holding the little furry animal in her hands with sheer grace.
No doubt, even a casual look at the Portrait of Cecelia Gallerani on your wall is sure to grab the eyeballs and warm the hearts!
The Virgin and Child with St Anne (detail 2) c. 1510
This painting is yet another example of how Da Vinci managed to portray the perfect depiction of man-animal interaction and draw a deep message from it. In this artwork, you can see infant Jesus along with Virgin Mary and her mother, St. Anne.
What is unique about the painting is the portrayal of Jesus along with a Lamb who is to be sacrificed. The lamb here is a symbol of innocence, and Christ grappling with it shows his passion for mercy and humanity.
Another unique feature of this particular masterpiece is that Virgin Mary is shown to be in her mother’s lap, which is not usually seen in other paintings. All the four characters in the painting are arranged in the shape of the slant of a pyramid, which shows da Vinci’s sheer brilliance with creating visual treats.
Now this one is in a league different from Leonardo Da Vinci paintings that we have described so far and signifies the range in his skill and versatile nature of his art. This piece of art displaying a rearing horse was sketched by Leonardo Da Vinci in Florence, Italy, during the ‘high renaissance period of art. It was completed either in 1503 or 1504.
Interestingly, ‘Rearing Horse’ is not an amalgamation of a wide pallet of colors and elements but is done with red chalk (sanguine), pen and ink on paper. However, its uniqueness lies in the depth of the chalk strokes and the multiple visual and geometrical effects they create – something which is unmatched, even today.
The first glance at the painting would reveal the ordinary shape of the horse. However, you take a moment to look at it with a little focus, and the painting reveals the depiction of a second rearing horse beneath the primary sketch, which is fainter and smaller in size! In fact, if you look at the faint outline of the horse’s tail, it is in contrast with the clearly sketched body. This, along with a few strokes, creates the effect of the rider struggling to regain control. Sheer artistic brilliance!
Leda and the Swan 1505-10
Leda, a character from Greek mythology, was an Aetolian princess who became later became a Spartan queen. And guess what? Leda has been one of Vinci’s favorite characters, as we can see more than one Leonardo da Vinci artworks themed on her.
Leda and the Swan depicts a standing figure of Leda almost entirely naked. Also in the painting is a swan and two eggs. From the broken shells of these eggs emerge four babies. Clearly, Vinci could not help but express his love for animals and birds of all kinds, and hence this painting! The entire scene is absolutely mesmerizing and meaningful while being sensual at the same time.
Leonardo Da Vinci seems to have been in his best elements while giving form to this painting, as the shapes and the strokes are so sharp and perfect that the onlooker would just get lost in the scene. No doubt, this painting is a must-have in your collection if you love Leonardo or art in general!
The Bottom Line
These are some of the many Leonardo Da Vinci artworks that the maestro created for the sake of his love for animals. Each of the aforementioned paintings is different from the other in style, depiction, and emotion. And that’s why each of these paintings is worth having.
While the original artifacts of such paintings have rarely been preserved in their true shape and form, the recreations of these Leonardo Da Vinci paintings can be procured online. You can add artistic decor to your home these beautiful paintings, gift them to a friend who is an animal lover, or simply add them to your collection for your own artistic pleasure!