Raphael Alba Madonna, c.1514

Alba Madonna, c.1514 by Raphael art print


The 'Alba Madonna' depicts Mary, Jesus and John the Baptist, in a typical Italian countryside. John the Baptist is holding up a cross to Jesus, which he grasps as all three stare at it. The three figures are grouped to the left in the round design, but the outstretched arm of the Madonna and the billowing material of her cloak balance the image. This Madonna was commissioned by Paolo Giovio who planned to send it to the church of the Olivetani in Nocera dei Pagani. In the 18th century, the painting belonged to the Spanish House of Alba, whose name it bears. In 1836 it was acquired by Nicholas I of Russia, who made it one of the highlights of the Imperial Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. A century later the Soviet Government clandestinely sold it to Andrew W. Mellon, who donated his collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where it may be seen today. During its time in the Hermitage, the painting would be transferred from a circular panel to a square canvas during the early nineteenth century. Through analysis of the painting, it was determined that the original panel was severely splitting down the center and on the right side. The canvas pattern is visible in the painting and the landscape on the far right was damaged in the transfer process.
 
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