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Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520)
Raphael was born in the Duchy of Urbino. He was a master painter and architect of the Italian High Renaissance. Raphael is best known for his Madonnas and for his large figure compositions in the Vatican in Rome. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. While we may term other works paintings, those of Raphael are living things; the flesh palpitates, the breath comes and goes, every organ lives, life pulsates everywhere.
School of Athens
Granduca
Portrait of a Young Man in Red
Meadow
Duke of Urbino
Madonna and Child with Book
George Fighting the Dragon

Viewer

Madonna and Child with Book, c. 1502-03
Oil on panel 21-3/4 x 15-3/4 in. (55.2 x 40 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation

In this painting, the balanced, serene figures are described simply and naturally. A lucid geometry organizes the composition, from the pyramidal grouping of the Madonna and Child to the geometric idealization of their faces and bodies. The deep, blue arch of the Madonna's silhouette encloses the figure of the Child and frames the book, which is further emphasized by the touching hands that hold it. The inscription in the book introduces the ninth hour, or Nones of the Canonical Offices, recited daily by all monastic communities. The Nones commemorates Christ's Crucifixion and Death. With eyes turned to heaven, the Christ Child contemplates His own sacrifice as man's Redeemer. Raphael has depicted more than just a beautiful image of the Madonna and Child -- he has created a meditation piece. The profoundly spiritual quality achieved by Raphael explains why his Madonnas were in such high demand.
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