This painting was originally part of the collection of the English banker Edward Solly. Together with other paintings from the same collection it entered the imperial collections of the Prussian state in 1821.
The two figures of the Virgin and Christ child follow a fairly traditional iconography. Mary, intent on reading, holds a sacred book in her right hand while her left touches the foot of her divine child. He plays with a thistlefinch and gazes toward the small book, Like other small format works, this painting can be dated to between 1500 and 1504. It was painted for purposes of private devotion -like the Diotallevi Madonna (Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie), Madonna and Child Reading (Pasadena, Norton Simon Museum of Art), the Madonna Connestabile (St. Petersburg, Hermitage) and the Madonna and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis (Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie)-and the similarities are undeniable of this work to the Madonnas that made Perugino one of the leading painters at the end of the Quattrocento and first years of the following century. Yet even in this youthful work Raphael has made the figures more solid and used a warmer range of colors. Right from these first groups we note how the artist attempted to make the ties of affection between the figures in his works more natural, and to this end he applied himself untiringly to making drawings from life from an early age. Though in the Solly Madonna the landscape has not taken on the value and importance that it would acquire in time, it is certain that the atmosphere in which his figures are set contributes to the unspoken and subtle exchange of affection.
- 38 cm x 52 cm
- Staatliche Museen
- Oil on Wood