It is an altarpiece for a chapel of San Francesco church in Milan in response to a religious organization. The holy virgin is in the center, with the baby St John in her right hand and the baby Jesus in her left hand. An angel is behind the Jesus, which forms a triangular composition and responds to each other with their gestures. The background is the deep rocks with flowers dotted with caves and light. Although this painting is about the traditional subject matter, the expression and the composition layout show the advanced painting skills of da Vinci. Characters, the use of subtle smoky background depicting the writing technique, scientific realism, and perspective prove da Vinci that he has reached a new height in the processing of vivid realism and artistic processing of the dialectical relationship.
The general theme of the Virgin of the Rocks is in accordance with the Church to draw the virgin in the surrounded prophet, which is a general religious composition method used by relief sponsors to lift the virgin Maria’s innocent belief. Da Vinci’s creation is a newly arisen secular work in Florence and all in the painting embody new ideas: the artistic plot processing; unusual elusive landscape; the organic integration of characters and environment; the ingenious use of the light; the character images of noble beauty. The subject of the painting is about the Baptist John worshiping the Jesus in front of the virgin Maria and the angel. Da Vinci settles them in the beautiful mysterious rocks, which the virgin, child and angel sit directly on the rocks. Demitting mist appears the rare hazy conception of school of Flanders or Venice. The whole scene is full of poetic tenderness, tranquility and elegance.
In this stable and harmonious painting of da Vinci, the scenery is no longer a simple background with realistic scenery circling around people, and coordination of nature and human. This sense of reality gives a vivid picture and has formed a unique style. Two general principles are followed at that time: one is the people should have some kind of communications between each other; two is the viewers and the painter should also have some interaction. Le Louvre museum collections have both, but London paintings only own one.