The Betrothal of the Virgin (‘Sposalizio’) (1504) by Raphael

The Betrothal of the Virgin ('Sposalizio') - Raphael - 1504

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Betrothal of the Virgin ('Sposalizio')
MediumOil on Panel
Dimensions170.1 x 118 cm
Art MovementHigh Renaissance
Current LocationPalazzo Brera, Milan, Italy

About The Betrothal of the Virgin ('Sposalizio')

The artwork “The Betrothal of the Virgin (‘Sposalizio’)” is an oil on panel painting created by the esteemed High Renaissance artist Raphael in the year 1504. Measuring 170.1 cm by 118 cm, this religious painting is currently housed at Palazzo Brera in Milan, Italy, and exemplifies the artistic achievements of the period.

In the artwork, Raphael portrays the ceremonial betrothal of the Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph. The central figures of Mary and Joseph are depicted at the ceremony of their betrothal, a moment of solemn engagement in Christian narratives. Joseph is shown placing a ring on Mary’s finger, symbolizing their commitment, while a priest with a mitre looks on, officiating the ritual. The couple is surrounded by a group of onlookers, tightly gathered to the left and more casually to the right, including some figures who appear to be in conversation, adding a sense of the community’s involvement in the event.

Raphael’s composition is noteworthy for its use of perspective to draw the viewer’s eye toward the central action. This is achieved through the geometric design of the tiled floor and the harmoniously constructed architectural backdrop featuring a grand rotunda with classic arches and a domed roof. The architecture provides a sense of order and stability, complementing the sanctity of the event. The painting also exhibits a serene landscape that extends into the horizon beyond the rotunda, contributing to the tranquil atmosphere of the scene.

Fine details and the rich attire of the figures showcase Raphael’s attention to both realism and the aesthetics of the period. The artist’s adept use of color and light enhances the painting’s spiritual and emotional gravitas, marking “The Betrothal of the Virgin” as a masterpiece emblematic of the High Renaissance.

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