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The National Gallery has endeavoured to make as many images of the collection as possible available for non-commercial use. However, an image of this painting is not available to download. This may be due to third party copyright restrictions.

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Panels from the S. Francesco Altarpiece, Milan

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These three panels all came from an elaborate, and partly sculpted, altarpiece that was made for the church of San Francesco Grande, Milan. By the time that Leonardo and his associates were commissioned to provide paintings in 1483, the sculptor Giacomo del Maiano had already finished the sculptures.

The altarpiece stood in a chapel devoted to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary that belonged to a confraternity (religious group) devoted to the Immaculate Conception. The two angels playing musical instruments probably stood on either side of a large sculpture of the Virgin. Leonardo’s painting, which was probably supposed to represent the Immaculate Conception, was placed directly beneath the sculpture.

The National Gallery’s painting is Leonardo’s second version of the picture. It was probably made to replace one (now in the Louvre, Paris) that Leonardo sold because the confraternity refused to pay him adequately for it.

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