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

Madonna della Seggiola (Sedia)

Oil on wood, diameter 71 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

Raphael painted the picture in Rome, probably during the period immediately after the completion of the Stanza di Eliodoro. It soon passed into the Medicean collections. It was already there by 1589 and has been in the Pitti since the 18th century. It was carried off to Paris by the Napoleonic troops in 1799 and brought back to Florence in 1815.

A celebrated picture in which Raphael is under the influence of the antique and of the Venetian school, of Titian and of Sebastiano del Piombo. The form of a "tondo" is in itself a reminder of Florence and carries us back to the taste of the Quattrocento. Of the form of the tondo the artist preserves and emphasizes the curve with his genial adaptation of the figures to the outline of the painting. And yet the composition is in no way forced, but on the other hand the figures in following the curve become more closely entwined together. This grouping, this closing around the fulcrum of the tondo coincides with the centre of affection - the little Christ, the spiritual centre of the picture. The colour, in spite of its vividness, has a fusion and a warmth which Raphael attains with genial and personal mastery.