Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio was one of the first, and perhaps the most interesting, of the pupils of Leonardo da Vinci after the latter moved to Milan in 1482. Boltraffio’s training in Leonardo’s workshop is particularly evident in this panel, dating from the late 1480s and perhaps based on drawings made by Leonardo himself.
The colours of the painting are perfectly harmonized by the unifying light. The Virgin is wearing a rich garment of green velvet, rendered with great precision. The large thistle flower motif alludes to the redemption of mankind from original sin through Christ’s Passion. The jasmine in the vase in the foreground is a Marian attribute, while the red rose towards which the Child stretches his hand evokes the blood of his Passion.