The Sistine Madonna

The Sistine Madonna is an oil painting produced in 1512 by Italian painter Raphael.

One of the last Madonnas, was the canvas which was painted by Raphael. It was a truly rare and extraordinary work said Giorgio Vasari.

The Sistine Madonna, an oil painting measures 265 cm by 196 cm. In the painting, The Madonna was holding the Christ Child and Saint Sixtus humbly looks at the Madonna while with his right hand pointing towards the faithful congregation in outward direction. Saint Barbara (from church of San Sisto) standing on clouds in opposite direction before dozen of obscured cherubs inspects the whole scene with his downward gaze while two distinctive winged cherub rest on their elbows beneath her while gazing distractedly at the three figures above them. To the left of the painting, Papal tiara who was the former Pope Sixtus I rest in the canvas acting as a sort of bridge between the pictorial space and the real.

The work can be viewed at Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden

Artist: Raphael
Location: Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden
Medium: Oil on Canvas


The Sistine Madonna is an oil painting produced in 1512 by Italian painter Raphael.

It was Pope Julius II who commissioned the painting in honor of Pope Sixtus IV, his late uncle for the basilica church as an altarpiece of the Benedictine Monastery of San Sisto in Piacenza. The Rovere family had a long term standing relationship with them. In this painting both Saints Sixtus and Barbara were to be depicted as commissioned by the commission. It was known that when Antonio da Correggio first laid eyes on the piece, legend says that he was inspired to cry.

Raphael’s masterpiece, pigment analysis reveals that they used usual pigments, at the top of painting – malachite mixed with orpiment in the green drapery, for the blue robe of Madonna with natural ultramarine mixed with lead white and for yellow sleeve of St Barbara, a mixture of lead-tin-yellow, vermilion and lead white. Pigments used were of the renaissance period.

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