(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

Solly Madonna

c. 1502
Oil on wood, 52 x 38 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Before his arrival in Florence, Raphael had already had occasion to compose small-scale devotional icons of the Madonna and Child, linked to a taste for the versions created by Perugino. An interesting sequence of this type can be seen in several examples, all from around 1502 to 1504, built on the motif of the Madonna holding a book. They are known as the Solly Madonna (in Berlin), the Norton Simon Madonna (in California) and the Conestabile Madonna (in St. Petersburg).

Mary reads as the baby turns his head toward her book. He holds a finch, prefiguring the Passion, an event presumably prophesied by Mary's reading.