Francesco Galli known as Napoletano, Madonna Lia

Francesco Galli known as Napoletano, Madonna Lia, oil on wooden panel, transferred to canvas, circa 1495  (inv. n. 1510)

The work has only recently been attributed to Francesco Galli, known as Napoletano, one of the lesser known artists who assimilated the innovative poetics of Leonardo da Vinci thanks to his presence during the works commissioned by Ludovico il Moro. The suspicion that Leonardo himself may have been the author of the painting dates to at least the mid 1600s, when the restorer Robert Picault wrote the artist's name on the back of the work. Multiple themes within this painting refer to the iconographic and stylistic solutions adopted by Leonardo in his paintings and drawings. Among these is the interpretation offered by Napoletano of the feminine features, which seem to overlap with the second version of the Virgin of the Rocks (London, National Gallery). The title of the painting is a homage to Amedeo Lia, whose wish it was to donate one of his most prized possessions to the city of Milan in 2007. An intrinsic value ties the painting to the home of the Sforzas: a descriptively rich representation of the castle facade can be seen in the background of the religious scene, providing an irreplaceable iconographic memento of the symbol of Milan at the end of 1400s.