Gian Pietro Rizzi called Giampietrino - inv. 1637

Gian Pietro Rizzi called Giampietrino (active c. 1515-c. 1540)

The Virgin and Child (recto); Icosadodecahedron (verso)
27,1 x 20,6 cm
1881 acquisition 
Inv. 1637

Lombard Rooms
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Full appreciation of the work is compromised by its bad condition. The surface is much abraded and has been heavily repainted; for example, the neckline of the Virgin’s dress was originally much lower.
A modest young Mary holds Jesus in her arms; he has a white flower symbolising purity in his hand. Mother and son exchange a serious glance, veiled in melancholy, presaging the crucifixion.
The composition is clearly Leonardesque in the pyramidal arrangement of the two figures, in the Virgin’s tapering fingers and in the Child’s twisting movement.
Early in his career, Giampietrino was influenced almost exclusively by Leonardo, revealing profound knowledge of the master. The back of this painting shows an icosadodecahedron, a polyhedron formed from twelve regular pentagons and twenty equilateral triangles. This complicated solid appeared in the drawings of Leonardo’s Atlantic Codex and was reproduced in De divina proportione (Of divine proportions), the mathematical treatise printed by Luca Pacioli in 1509.
The Poldi Pezzoli Museum’s painting, realised between about 1510 and 1515, confirms the Milanese artist’s loyalty to his master’s ideas and would seem to be a clear indication of his belonging to the great master’s circle: the arrangement of the two figures is curious and unusual and reveals Giampietrino’s cultural updating and his familiarity with Leonardo’s scientific studies.