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After Raphael Sanzio - Madonna della Sedia

After Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520), Italian
Madonna della Sedia, undated copy
OIL ON CANVAS, 28 ½ inches diameter
Gift of Horace Fairbanks

Raphael's artistic achievements at the height of the Ital­ian Renaissance remain among the most celebrated in the history of western art. His mastery of materials and the inner peacefulness of his figures lend an exceptional eloquence to his art that is almost universally admired today.

The Madonna della Sedia (Madonna of the Chair), in the collection of the Pitti Palace in Florence, was painted at the peak of Raphael's career around 1514 and offers a compelling rendering of maternal intimacy. Raphael manipulated the vantage point so that we gaze upward at Mary and the infants Jesus and John the Baptist, as though on our knees. The personal engagement of the viewer with the holy figures, both through their recognition of our presence and through the deliberate suggestion that we share the space, is a hallmark of Renaissance aesthetics, humanizing the subjects while retaining a sense of their innate divinity.