Madonna di Foligno (c. 1512) by Raphael

Madonna di Foligno - Raphael - c.1511 - 1512

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Artwork Information

TitleMadonna di Foligno
Datec.1511 - 1512
Dimensions194 x 320 cm
Art MovementHigh Renaissance
Current LocationVatican Museums, Vatican, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican

About Madonna di Foligno

The artwork “Madonna di Foligno” is a masterful creation by the esteemed Renaissance artist Raphael, dating from around 1511 to 1512. This oil painting is a quintessential example of the High Renaissance style, with its dimensions spanning an impressive 194 by 320 centimeters. The religious painting is presently housed within the Vatican Museums, specifically in the Pinacoteca Vaticana located in Vatican City.

The artwork embodies the religious fervor of the period, depicting the Virgin Mary seated in the heavens, cradling the Christ Child. Surrounded by an aureole of radiant light, she is rendered with a serene grace that is characteristic of Raphael’s depictions of the Madonna. The rich red and blue of her garments stand out amidst the softer tones of the surrounding clouds, symbolizing her dual roles as a figure of compassion and as Queen of Heaven.

Beneath the central figures of mother and child, the composition features a collection of earthly subjects. To the left, a saintly figure bearing a cross is John the Baptist, who points towards the Madonna as if directing the viewer’s attention to her divine presence. Adjacent to him is a kneeling figure, possibly representing St. Jerome, with a lion nearby, an attribute commonly associated with the saint.

On the right side of the artwork, a figure in a red cloak, Sigismondo de’ Conti, who commissioned the painting to commemorate his survival from a near-death experience due to a lightning strike, is seen in deep prayerful reverence. The painting is said to have originally been created as an altarpiece for the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome.

In front of the kneeling donor, an angel holds a plaque, which is thought to have originally bore the name of the commissioner or an inscription. This figure provides a link between the earthly realm and the celestial scene above.

The background reveals a landscape bearing the subtle hues of a distant town, which is believed to be a representation of Foligno, the place where Sigismondo de’ Conti had his miraculous escape. A divine light appears to emanate from behind the Madonna, casting its otherworldly glow over the townscape and reinforcing the picture’s spiritual theme.

Overall, “Madonna di Foligno” is celebrated for its cohesive integration of celestial and terrestrial realms, its spiritual expressiveness, and Raphael’s mastery over composition and the use of color to evoke depth and emotion.

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