Madonna di Casa Santi1498
The work, frescoed in the room in which it is believed that Raphael was born, until a few years ago was considered by the hand of Giovanni Santi, father of Raphael, and who depicted his wife and son (Cavalcaselle). This attribution, reiterated by Adolfo Venturi , was then abandoned in favor of the young Raffaello da Ragghianti, Longhi and Brizio. The similarity of the face of Mary with that of the girl in the Nativity of the Virgin in the predella of the Pala di Fano , the work of Perugino and the workshop, has also made Raffaello refer to that tablet.
Mary is sitting in profile in a niche, with the Child asleep in her lap, tenderly caressed by a hug. It is represented up to the knees, and is intent on reading a book placed on a lectern in front of her. The shadow in the niche highlights the profile, which refers to Florentine examples of the mid- fifteenth century , probably filtered by Piero della Francesca , who had worked so much in Urbino. The same rarefied atmosphere, the light and clear colors, the attention to the light, refer to the models that were then circulated to the urban court. It seems to announce then the style of Raffaello’s mature art the intimacy between mother and son, the way to tie the two figures - even with the contrast of light and dark shades - and the natural attitude of Jesus, tenderly asleep while crouched in lap.
© Karly Nelson