The Sistine Madonna

Raffael (1483-1520) | Painter


The “Sistine Madonna” is a masterpiece by Raphael, who was already famous during his lifetime. To this day, he is considered one of the most important artists of the High Renaissance. His clients included high-ranking figures such as Pope Julius II, who commissioned this painting. Raphael conceived an impressive pictorial composition: the curtain opens to reveal a heavenly vision. The Virgin strides over the clouds, the Christ Child in her arms. She carries him from the glory of heaven into the earthly world, representing the incarnation of the Son of God. The serious expression in the eyes of Jesus and his mother implies their awareness of the future Passion. The “Sistine Madonna” was created for the high altar of the convent church of San Sisto in Piacenza. There, two saints were venerated, which is why they were included in the picture. On the left, Pope Sixtus II points eloquently towards the earthly world. On the right, Saint Barbara humbly kneels. The two cherubs waiting for Mass at the altar lead our gaze again and again to the Virgin and Child above them.

Material & Technique
Oil on canvas
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister
c. 1512/13
Inventory number
Gal.-Nr. 93