The design appears to derive from a classical motif known from copies after sarcophagus reliefs and gems. The pose is similar to that of Michelangelo's 'Night' (Medici Chapel, Florence).

The work is probably an old copy after a painting of this subject by Michelangelo which he made in 1530, in tempera, for the Duke of Ferrara, but which was sent instead to the King of France.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1475 - 1564
Full title
Leda and the Swan
Date made
after 1530
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
105.4 x 141 cm
Acquisition credit
Presented by the Duke of Northumberland, 1838
Inventory number
NG1868
Location in Gallery