The Madonna With the Cat

Leonardo's Cat

This picture, The Madonna With the Cat, was first displayed to the public in 1938 as part of a Milanese gallery's exhibition of the work of Leonardo da Vinci. The picture, drawn in oil on wood, was announced to be a newly discovered work by the great master. It had been donated to the gallery by an Italian nobleman who claimed that the work had "been in the family forever."

Art historians had long been aware of Leonardo's pen-and-ink studies for this painting. However, the painting itself had never been seen. Therefore, its discovery was hailed as a great find.

After the exhibition, the painting disappeared from public view. Fifty years later it resurfaced when Cesare Tubino, an artist in Turin, died at the age of ninety-one.

Tubino was known for his reproductions of old paintings. It turned out that The Madonna with the Cat was one of his greatest achievements. He had conspired with a nobleman to present the painting to the Milanese gallery for its debut, then Tubino had taken the work back. For the next fifty years it hung on his bedroom wall where he admired it every day. He left instructions to his family to expose the work as his own creation upon his death.

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