Madonna Conestabile (c.1504)

Raffaello (1483-1520)

Madonna Conestabile (Conestabile Madonna)
Tempera on canvas (handed over from panel), 17.5 x 18 cm
Hermitage MuseumSaint Petersburg

Raphael entered the history of Italian art as the “genius of harmony”. The ideals of the High Renaissance were best embodied in his works. The Conestabile Madonna is one of the early works by the master. Despite his still unformed style, the picture is remarkable for its superb composition, the beauty of the linear rhythms, the nobility of the colour harmonies and the perfection of the images – everything which was to be developed to such heights in Raphael‘s mature work. The transparency of the spring landscape in the distance is in harmony with the image of Mary – young and beautiful like the world which surrounds her. The painting is still in its original frame, decorated with grotesque ornament and evidently made to a design by Raphael himself. Before the painting was transferred from panel to canvas, the frame and the painting formed one united whole. In 1871 the Russian Tsar Alexander II purchased the painting and presented it as a gift to his wife, Maria Alexandrovna. (SHM)