(b. 1486, Firenze, d. 1530, Firenze)

Madonna of the Harpies (detail)

Oil on wood
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

The figure of the Madonna, wrought into a composed chiasmus in order to balance the weight of the Child, lights up the centre of the picture with the intense rose-colour of her robe tempered by harmony with the pale blue of her mantle, and with the brilliant yellow of the light fabric draped over her shoulders beneath the beautiful drapery of the white veil covering her head.

For centuries - ever since a jjudgment by Vasari - the work was considered to be the prototype of classicism instilled into religious subjects, a refined synthesis of Leonardesque `sfumato', Raphaelesque balance, and plastic monumentality in the style of Michelangelo. Andrea del Sarto, who Vasari dubbed the "painter without errors", gives here a typical example of intellectual religiousness of clear neo-Platonic derivation.