The original of this painting may have been lost. Leonardo mentions the painting in a letter dated 1501. The composition is based around the geometric figures of triangles and ellipses. An excellent red chalk drawing of the Madonna's head and shoulders also exists in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle.
This work, intended for Florimond Robertet, Secretary to the King of France, shows the winder as shaped like a cross; this symbolises the Passion of Christ and His future death. It appears that Mary wants to pull the Child away from the symbol of His future, but even she is powerless to prevent the Crucifixion which is part of His destiny. Of the two works one is very green whilst the other is quite blue; the landscapes also differ significantly with one showing a vicious mountain range beneath a vivid blue sky while the other runs down to the sea.