This colloquium will explore the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century reception of Leonardo in general, and The Virgin of the Rocks in particular. An object of fascination and enquiry from the time Mary Lamb first named the picture The Virgin of the Rocks in 1805, we will be tracking down poems, drawings, paintings, essays, treatises and other traces left by the painting. How was the painting perceived by different spectators? How exactly did its reputation spread?

The picture’s power might derive from its spiritual aura and the cult of the Immaculate Conception; or from the associations sparked by its cavernous setting among rocks and mountains; or by the lights and shadows of its chiaroscuro and sfumato. We look forward to discussing these and other responses and reactions to Leonardo and his Virgin of the Rocks.

Speakers will include Hugh Haughton on Rossetti’s sonnet; Susanna Avery-Quash on the National Gallery’s collecting; David Russell from Oxford and Lene Ostermark Johansen from Copenhagen on Pater’s essay; Luke Uglow on nineteenth-century connoisseurship, and Liz Prettejohn on artistic receptions of Leonardo.

The colloquium is being held in conjunction with the National Gallery Exhibition Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece (ends 26 January 2020).  It is convened by Amanda Lillie, Liz Prettejohn and Hugh Haughton (University of York).