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

Madonna and Child (The Small Cowper Madonna)

Oil on wood, 58 x 43 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

This painting, known as the Small Cowper Madonna because it was the smaller of the two Raphael Madonna paintings owned by the English collector Lord Cowper, was painted when the artist was about twenty-two. It reveals not only the strong influence of his Umbrian master, Perugino, but also that of his Florentine rivals, Leonardo and Michelangelo.

The Small Cowper Madonna is a more analytical variant of the homogeneous and resolute group of the Madonna del Granduca. Here the painter expresses the influence of Leonardo in a broad, soft landscape. This landscape contains a small church with a cylindrical dome, which may be an allusion to Bramante's architecture; it could be the Franciscan convent of San Bernardino near Raphael's native city of Urbino.