Food For Your Soul
"The Granduca Madonna"
"The Granduca Madonna" is oil on wood painted by Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520) in 1504. It is 84 x 55 cm, and is housed in the Pitti Gallery in Florence, Italy. It once belonged to Grand Duke Ferdinand III of Lorraine from whom it derives its name. This 19th century copy by LaBruna was a gift of Bishop Thomas Byrne to the Sisters of Charity. It is oil on canvas in a deeply regilded frame with an outer band of acanthus motif.
"The Granduca Madonna" is considered one of the finest creations of Raphael in his early period. The figure of the Virgin and Child emerge from a dark background bound together by a sweet sentiment which derives largely from the gesture of the Child, who looking toward the spectator presses against his Mother. The influences of his teacher, Pietro Perugino (1446-50-1523) and Leonardo daVinci (1542-1519) are fused and assimilated by the young artist into a marvelous harmony which extends to the whole composition, from the spacing of the two figures in the space with that sense of flowing rhythm to the magic of the color which softly dissolves into delicate shadow.
Raphael's greatest paintings seem so effortless that one does not usually connect them with the idea of hard and relentless work. In fact, their apparent simplicity is the fruit of deep thought, careful planning, and immense artistic wisdom. A painting like Raphael's "Granduca Madonna" is truly 'classical' in the sense that it has served countless generations as a standard of perfection. The way the Virgin's face is modeled and recedes into the shade, the way Raphael makes use feel the volume of the body wrapped in the freely flowing mantle, the firm and tender way in which she holds and supports the Christ child – all this contributes to the effect of perfect poise. We feel that to change the group ever so slightly would upset the whole harmony. Yet, there is nothing strained or sophisticated in the composition. It looks as if it could not be otherwise.
Description of the painting taken from: