Raphael (Raffaello Santi)

The Holy Family with a Palm Tree (about 1506 - 1507)

About this artwork

The tondo (circular painting) was popular in Renaissance Florence for private apartments. Raphael has carefully planned his composition to complement the shape, with the Christ Child at its centre, and created a supremely harmonised and balanced relationship between the three figures. This is one of several variations on the theme of the Virgin and Child and the Holy Family that Raphael explored during his four years in Florence. The palm tree, flowers and fountain or well-head may be inspired by references in special devotions (litanies) to the Virgin Mary, which would be appropriate for a private devotional picture.

Raphael (Raffaello Santi)

Raphael (Raffaello Santi)

During Raphael's short career he produced works of extraordinary refinement that were to have a profound influence on the course of European painting. His artistic education began in Urbino, where his father was court painter; he then moved to Florence, and finally to Rome, summoned by Pope Julius II to decorate the papal apartments (Stanze). His frescoes in Rome are perhaps his most celebrated works, but Raphael also excelled at painting large altarpieces, small devotional paintings and portraits. He designed tapestries for the Sistine Chapel, worked on architectural projects, and ran a busy workshop in which a number of the most important artists of the next generation were educated.