Wednesday, March 5, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Madonna della Seggiola (Raphael)

Raphael was definitely a fan of painting the Madonna and Child.  Of all the many different depictions of this subject, this one is my favorite.  He painted his Madonna della Seggiola in Rome in 1514, and was possibly a commission from Pope Leo X.  There are so many Madonna and Child paintings by Raphael to choose from - Some with round frames, some in a traditional triangular composition, some that feature John the Baptist, and some that don't. 
But of all the many depictions of this subject, I am drawn to this one because it seems to be the only one that depicts a very natural tenderness between a real mother and her son.  Jesus is not a miniature adult in a baby's body, and the Virgin Mary is not distancing herself from her divine Son.  He is a real baby, and she is a real mother.  She is holding him tight and close so their faces touch, as if she just gave him a sweet, motherly kiss on the cheek.  And it is as if Jesus is actually gushing... complete with the wiggling of toes like a baby would do in a candid moment like this! 
I almost wish John the Baptist wasn't featured in this painting, because he just seems to be a third wheel, and really contributes nothing to the scene except that he fills up the empty space on the right side of the composition.  But aside from that, I absolutely love this painting because it shows the love of a mother in a real way, which in turn gives us a glimpse of the kind of love that God has for us.

Raffaello Sanzio
Madonna della Seggiola

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