The Sistine Madonna (c. 1512-14) by Raphael

The Sistine Madonna - Raphael - 1513

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Sistine Madonna
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions269.5 x 201 cm
Art MovementHigh Renaissance
Current LocationGemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany

About The Sistine Madonna

The artwork in question, “The Sistine Madonna,” is a notable creation by the esteemed artist Raphael, dating back to the year 1513. This oil on canvas masterpiece exemplifies the High Renaissance art movement and measures 269.5 by 201 cm. Classified as a religious painting, it finds its home in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, located in Dresden, Germany.

“The Sistine Madonna” depicts a serene and celestial portrayal of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child, with both figures centrally poised and exuding an aura of divinity and calm. Adorning Mary’s head is a delicate halo, signifying her sanctity. The palette used in the artwork is both rich and subdued, emphasizing the quiet grandeur of the scene. Two saintly figures flank this maternal vision; to the left is Saint Sixtus, adorned in papal vestments, gazing upward reverently as if beholding a divine vision. To the right, Saint Barbara stands humbly with her gaze demurely directed downward, embodying the virtue of piety.

Beneath the main figures, two cherubs are resting on a cloud, their cherubic expressions contemplative, enhancing the overall sense of wonder. The heavenly assembly is framed with sumptuous green and ochre drapery that hovers above like celestial curtains, adding to the grandeur of the scene. The use of sfumato and chiaroscuro techniques brings out the tenderness of the subjects, allowing the holy and ethereal nature of the scene to resonate with viewers across time. This religious painting reflects a theological vision, rich in symbolism, and demonstrates Raphael’s mastery of composition, color, and expression, making it a cornerstone work of the High Renaissance period.

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