The Sistine Madonna is an oil painting created by Renaissance artist, Raphael in 1512 for the church of San Sisto in Piacenza. It depicts the Virgin Mary holding the baby Christ child with two cherubs sitting at the bottom. This painting was one of the last Madonnas painted by Raphael and is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance art.
Raphael used a pyramidal structural form to give balance to The Sistine Madonna which is a popular composition style during this period. The painting was intended to be an altarpiece for the church, but after being sent on tour, it became widely celebrated across Europe and eventually sold to Augustus III of Poland. Even today, it remains one of the most popular works in the history of art.
Interestingly, The cherubs at the bottom were added by Raphael at the very end for compositional reasons. They help anchor and enliven this magnificent work highlighting its delicate religious significance. Its use of classic themes mixed with symmetrical composition that exemplifies Christian paintings would have captivated both devout believers and fans interested in contemporary art alike.