Von der Ropp Madonna

1501

The Madonna with St. Jerome and St. Francis may have been painted in 1501 which would make it contemporary with the Altarpiece of St. Nicholas and so perhaps the first certain work by Raphael to have survived intact. The small painting, very crowded in composition, looks back to the Sienese artists of the Quattrocentro; its almost square format and richly glowing pictorial surface make it rather icon-like in appearance. Of all Raphael’s paintings, it is the one in which there is the least attempt to give a sense of three-dimensionality. This delicate, elaborately ornamented art, with the gold glints of the small knots of embroidery on the Virgin’s robe and the cushion on which the Infant Christ sits, and of the haloes, the stippling, the star at the Virgin’s shoulder, is very close to and shares a sense of quiet piety with the work of Pinturicchio.

Pinturicchio is also recalled in the dark veil framing the Virgin’s face and the slightly contrived, contorted grace of the Infant Jesus; this is a far from timid work, confidently executed and designed to please.

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