Raffaello Sanzio

Hi everyone! This week I want to talk about the artist Raphael and one of his artworks. Raphael is considered to be one of the greatest artists in the world, among many.

Raphael was a Renaissance painter who was born in Urbino. He was born in 1483 and died in 1520. Raphael was a painter and an architect. Even though he was a prolific artist, having worked directly for the papacy for some time, he died at the young age of 37 years old. I remember learning in class that after his death, many people in his workshop wanted to become the new master (which meant they would be the head of the art shop); however, there was some scandal with some of the potential masters, and this lead to some issues within the workshop.

One of the paintings I saw at the Uffizi Gallery was the Madonna of the Goldfinch (Madonna del cardellino) created in 1505 and 1506.

Madonna of the Goldfinch

I was doing some research on his paintings, and apparently, this painting went through a 10 year restoration process from 2008 to 2018. During this ten year period, there was a replica placed in the Uffizi. I’m so happy I got to see the original when I went there. Also when I went there, I noticed that the colors of the painting were very prominent and bright, which makes sense now because of the restoration. Usually paintings from the 1500s that haven’t been restored have a greenish tint to them; however, Raphael’s painting was so extremely beautiful and bright.

In this painting, we have Mary, baby Christ, and John the Baptist. Their body alignments create a triangle. Mary is reading a prayer book and holding onto John the Baptist. She is depicted as a young blonde women, wearing a red dress with a blue cloak; these colors are commonly attributed to her. Mary has a white face with rosy cheeks. Her hair is placed up nicely and she has some braids throughout. Mary’s young, beautiful face is characteristic of other Madonnas that Raphael has created.

close up of Madonna of the Goldfinch

Additionally, John the Baptist is a young child, who is holding onto a goldfinch. Usually John the Baptist is shown wearing a garment of animal hair, more specifically camel hair and a belt, or leather girdle. I’m not quite sure if Raphael depicts John in this attire, but the design of John’s clothes look similar to other paintings that depict him.

Furthermore, Christ is shown as a young child; he seems to be younger than John is. Christ is leaning against his mother’s knees. He is reaching out to pet the goldfinch that John the Baptist is showing him. Often in artworks, a goldfinch represents an acceptance of the Passion of Christ (Ferguson, 19). Ferguson states that a goldfinch, when incorporated with the child Christ, shows the “connection between the Incarnation and the Passion” (19). Therefore, Raphael brilliantly creates a foreshadow of Christ’s Passion in this painting when Christ is still a child.

close up of Madonna of the Goldfinch

Lastly, these figures are placed before a beautiful open space. They appear to be isolated from parts of the world, but they are still surrounded by nature.

All images were photographed by me

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