Raphael (Raffaello Santi)

The Virgin and Child ('The Bridgewater Madonna') (about 1507)

About this artwork

Raphael made many drawings and paintings of the Virgin and Child, in part inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci in Florence. Here he achieved a particularly graceful combination of poses, with an elegant twist (contrapposto) in both. The exchange of glances further emphasises the tender relationship between the beautiful mother and child. Technical analysis has revealed that the artist originally painted a landscape background. Raphael may have decided that a dark setting was a better foil for the subtle modelling of his figures in light and shadow. The painting was probably made as a devotional image for a private chamber.

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.