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Madonna Granduca

Painting, 1504, 84.4×55.9 cm

Description of the artwork «Madonna Granduca»

"Madonna Granduca" one of the most famous of the Madonnas of Raphael, its authorship has never been questioned, but the creation of the painting and its whereabouts up until the seventeenth century reliable information there. I assume that the artist painted "Madonna of Granduca" about 1504. It was the first painting created in Florence, where a native of Urbino, Raphael came to see firsthand the works Michelangeloand Leonardo da Vinciand under their influence to improve my own technique.

"Unfortunately, unknown to the woman-mother, whose features inspired by Raphael, – wrote the biographer of Urbina Simon Brilian. – Perhaps the great artist met her in one of the villages around Florence and later in Rome, during carnival, he sketched another wonderful drawing "Madonna della Sedia"by putting a sheet of paper on an overturned barrel and forget the surrounding crowd, and everything".

What does the name of the picture?

In Italian Grand Duca means "great Prince" or "Grand Duke" and "Madonna Granduca" – respectively, "Ducal Madonna," "Madonna of the Grand Duke". At the end of the XVIII century the painting purchased the great Duke of Tuscany Ferdinand III(1769-1824). It was the time of the Napoleonic wars, restless and dangerous. The Florentine Palazzo Pitti, the Ducal residence, the barbaric looting then lost many of its artistic treasures, including paintings by Raphael, and the Duke Ferdinand III, fled to Vienna. There and caught him in the late autumn of 1799 a letter from the Director of the Uffizi Tommaso Puccini. He excitedly reported that he had met recently, one of the Florentine merchant well-preserved early "Madonna" by Raphael and begged the Duke to give permission to buy it.

Ferdinand III agreed and never regretted. On the contrary: the Duke was to his purchase extremely attached to. "Madonna Granduca" not only hung in his bedroom – she was always accompanied by Ferdinand III on the way. When the Duke went into exile in würzburg, Raphael went with him. However, not the fact that Ferdinand, whose title gave the painting its present title, saw in her the value of art – rather, "Granduca" has become something of its mascot. Some believed the image of the miraculous.
In the beginning of the XIX century painting was updated restorer Vittorio Sampieri. From 1821 to 1830-th "Granduca" was temporarily transferred to the Uffizi gallery, and then returned to the Palatine gallery, part of Palazzo Pitti, where it is stored now (though recently, the "Uffizi gallery" formally include the Palatine gallery).

What artistic merits "of the Madonna of Granduca"?

The composition of the painting, at first glance, extremely simple. But this is difficult to achieve high simplicity, which is more valuable than contrived complexity. Generational depicts the virgin Mary holding a nearly naked Baby, clinging to the hands of the mother's shoulder and chest. He looks at the audience intently and Mature, while Maria shyly and timidly lowers her eyes. There's still some stiffness of the young painter in the transfer of POS (some noticed that the Baby in this position "awkward"), but the way the figure of Mary is slightly tilted to the left, balanced by a reversal of the baby Jesus in the opposite direction, leaves the impression of an amazing balance of volumes and masses, and the rare art of compactness and harmony. My half-closed eyes Mary, her timidity and delicacy infect the viewer with a sense of humility before the inevitability of all that is destined to be.
"Here everything is natural, precise, writes about "Granduke" famous Austrian-English historian and art theorist Ernst Gombrich, – and any slippage threatens to destroy harmony. In the picture there is no artificial, coercive methods like it came not by the will of the artist, and according to the commandment of nature".

Symbolism in "Madonna of Granduca"

The chiton and cloak of the virgin Mary in this painting by Raphael made in the traditional colors – red and blue (Rafael have not been to Venice, but, no doubt, knew that these colors were dressed Madonnas famous Venetian Giovanni Bellini). The red robe symbolizes the blood of the Saviour shed on the cross to atone for human sins; the blue of the mantles of the Madonna according to the language paints on her purity and innocence. But the solid dark background of the painting is not characteristic of Raphael, often preferring to portray his Madonnas surrounded by nature.

The Mystery Of The "Madonna Of Granduca"

Preserved preliminary drawing for "the Madonna of Granduca". In 2016, the year he, as well as the painting itself was presented to the Russian the exhibition "Raphael. Poetry image"in the Pushkin Museum. Important differences in the pattern from the picture are two: first, the Madonna of the figure inscribed in the Tondo, and secondly, behind it one can observe the generalized outlines of the landscape.

But the Grand Duke Ferdinand III received the picture in the form in which she can be seen by us, – the Madonna on a dark olive, almost black background. Experts doubted whether this blank background belongs to Raphael? Conducted x-ray diffraction showed that a layer of dark paint hides much interesting. Not everyone was able thoroughly to consider, but it is clear that behind Maria once housed balustrade or high step, followed by landscape. On the right you can distinguish the overhanging structure – maybe it was a tree branch or curtain, as in The "Sistine Madonna". On the left, or the second half of the curtain, or wall of the building. However, everything is safely hidden under an impenetrable black background.

The question is if Rafael, in obedience to one slave he reasons, toned background with dark colour, or it was done by someone later?

Of course, we can assume that the artist is unsatisfied with their landscape and painted it. In the early Florentine period he was under the strong influence of the manner of Leonardo da Vinci, who preferred the dark and disturbing background for his paintings. But, even yielding to the temptation to repeat unusual for its clear manners leonardeschi the effect of the mysterious twilight, Rafael would retain some outlines of objects and hardly would have made the background impenetrable to the eye.

And therefore more close to reality is the version that black background was written for Raphael by someone else. According to some, the owner of the painting in the XVII century was a famous Florentine painter of the Baroque era Carlo Dolci(1616-1686), from the heirs which the picture fell to Ferdinand III. Baroque is inseparable from the artistic reforms Caravaggioand his manners tenebrosocharacterized by the dark backdrops of the canvases with sharply protruding on the background shapes, moulded by contrasting chiaroscuro. It has become extremely fashionable, formed the whole direction conventionally called tenebrism. Perhaps, dramatically obscuring the background the "Madonna of Granduca", one of the owners of the picture (the same Dolci) decided that it will make the work topical? Or the then owner of the painting and did not know that the author of the painting is Raphael himself, and therefore provided it with a black background before selling to make it look like the work of a fashionable contemporary? All this is just speculation.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Religious scene

Style of art: Renaissance

Technique: Oil

Materials: Wood

Date of creation: 1504

Size: 84.4×55.9 cm

Artwork in selections: 30 selections