Madonna Niccolini-Cowper (1508)

Raffaello (1483-1520)

Madonna Niccolini-Cowper (The Niccolini-Cowper Madonna)
Oil on panel, 80.7 x 57.5 cm
National Gallery of ArtWashington

Inscription: center right on border of Madonna’s bodice: MDVIII.R.V.PIN (1508 Raphael of Urbino painted it)

A woman holds and looks toward a nude, young child, who sits on her lap and looks out at us, smiling, in this vertical painting. They both have pale skin and thin, gold halos floating above their heads. The clear sky behind them deepens from teal blue along the top edge to ice blue behind their shoulders. To our right, the woman is shown from the lap up with her body angled to our left, toward the child she holds. She looks down at the child almost in profile with dark eyes under faint brows. She has a long, straight nose, smooth cheeks, and her petal-pink lips are closed. Her blond hair is braided and twisted back from her face under a sheer, gold-trimmed, white veil, that flutters as if in a breeze. Her rose-pink dress has a wide neckline and the elbow-length sleeve we can see falls loosely over a tighter, spring-green sleeve. The neckline is trimmed with gold decorations and an inscription: “MDVIII.R.V.PIN.” A peacock-blue robe drapes over the shoulder farther from us and across her lap. That arm wraps around the child’s back, and she holds her other hand to her chest, near where the child grips the neckline of her dress. The child sits on a white pillow with one leg flung across the woman’s lap and the other, closer to us, dangling between her knees. Slightly slouched, his body is angled to our right, toward the woman, but he looks over his shoulder at us with dark eyes. He has faint eyebrows, a delicate nose, a dimpled chin, flushed cheeks, and his pale pink lips curl into a smile. He has wispy blond hair and pudgy, toddler-like cheeks and body. His other hand rests on the pillow between his legs. A band of gauzy, sheer fabric decorated with gold stripes wraps around one shoulder and around his upper chest. (NGA)