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Composition


Raphael cleverly adapted the figures. The Virgin protectively cradling the infant Christ follows the curve so that they become more closely entwined. The interlocking arms and legs emphasise the circular composition and the baby becomes the centre of the picture. The elbow is the pivotal point.


Colour


The artist used an unusual combination of strong red, blue, orange and bright green.


The Stanze Raphael


The frescoes in the Stanze Raphael are the artist’s most celebrated work. These rooms were once part of Pope Julius II’s own residence in the Vatican.


Michelangelo was painting in the Sistine Chapel, and much to his annoyance the pope allowed Raphael to study the ceiling before it was complete.


Fig. 22.25 The Madonna of the Goldfinch, 1507, by Raphael, oil on wood, 107cm x 77cm, Uffizi Gallery, Florence. The group of figures form a pyramidal composition, but each retains its own individuality and shape.


The Madonna of the Goldfinch


In The Madonna of the Goldfinch (Fig. 22.25), the child Jesus stretches out in a gentle, almost languid manner. The young St John offers him a goldfinch, a symbol of the passion.


The Madonna della Seggiola


The Madonna della Seggiola (The Madonna of the Chair) (Fig. 22.26) is the most loved of all Raphael’s Madonnas.


The tondo, or circular shape, was very popular during the Renaissance but it was a difficult composition.


274 APPRECIATING ART: SECTION 2, PART 3 The School of Athens


Raphael’s most famous painting is in the Stanza della Segnatura, so called because important papal documents were signed there. It was also the pope’s personal library.


Subject


The School of Athens (Fig. 22.28) represents the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle and other ancient scientists in an imaginary setting. The architecture links the new St Peter’s to ancient Rome.


Theme


The theme is the Renaissance humanist idea of harmony between Christian and ancient Greek philosophy. It also refers to the books in the pope’s library on philosophy, law and poetry.


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