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In light of the V&A’s own ongoing research into The Virgin with the Laughing Child, we were delighted to offer this sculpture on loan to Palazzo Strozzi for this major exhibition on Andrea del Verrocchio and his workshop, for the first time since its acquisition in 1858. The early history of this sculpture is unknown, and over the years it has been variously attributed to Rossellino, Leonardo, Verrocchio, and Desiderio da Settignano, none of which has met with universal acceptance. A potential attribution to Leonardo da Vinci was first proposed in 1899, so Professor Caglioti’s study opens up the discussion of its authorship afresh. The V&A welcomes ongoing discussion with colleagues worldwide: research into our collections is continuous, and we look forward to further scholarly insight which will no doubt result from this presentation within the upcoming exhibition.
What is the evidence? We do not have any sculptures made by Leonardo, so there is no comparison. And the smile? Already Ernst Gombrich pointed out that the Leonardo-type smile is a stock pile accessory which Leonardo inherited from Verrocchio. But any new opinion is welcome, as long as it has some evidence in its favour. So let’s wait and see what the evidence is.