Raphael 1483 – 1520

Sistine Madonna

oil on canvas (265 ∅ 196 cm) — 1513-1514 Museum Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden

Raphael biography

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Tags: Madonna

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This Madonna is probably the last painting Raphael made by himself. It was painted as an altarpiece commissioned by the Benedictine convent of San Sisto in Piacenza. The monks wanted their patron saint Sixtus (= Sisto) on the painting too, as well as Saint Barbara.

It is a heavenly painting, literally, as the main figures stand on clouds. Behind them are a large number of obfuscated cherubs.

In the foreground two cherubs lean on the bottom of the painting, looking up fully concentrated. These cherubs, or putti, may have become even more famous than the painting.

The altarpiece was bought in 1754 by king August III of Poland, who put it on display in Dresden. It was greeted with much enthousiasm. During World War II it was hidden outside the city. Soviet troups took it to Moscow as war tribute. In 1955 it was returned to the Dresden museum.

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