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A woman and two children, all with pale skin and flushed cheeks, sit together in a landscape in this round painting. The woman takes up most of the composition as she sits with her right leg, to our left, tucked under her body. Her other leg, on our right, is bent so the foot rests on the ground, and that knee angles up and out to the side. She wears a rose-pink dress under a topaz-blue robe, and a finger between the pages of a closed book holds her place. Her brown hair is twisted away from her face. She has delicate features and her pink lips are closed. She looks and leans to our left around a nude young boy who half-sits and half-stands against her bent leg. The boy has blond hair and pudgy, toddler-like cheeks and body. The boy reaches his right hand, on our left, to grasp the tall, thin cross held by the second young boy, who sits on the ground next to the pair. This second boy has darker brown hair and wears a garment resembling animal fur. The boy kneels facing the woman and looks up at her and the blond boy. The trio sits on a flat, grassy area in front of a body of water painted light turquoise. Mountains in the deep distance are pale azure blue beneath a nearly clear blue sky.

Raphael, The Alba Madonna, c. 1510, oil on panel transferred to canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1937.1.24

Michelangelo, Raphael, and the Genius Paradox

Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art

  • Sunday, November 6, 2022
  • 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • East Building Auditorium and Virtual
  • Virtual Program

Registration is required.

Join us for the 26th annual Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art, presented by Cammy Brothers of Northeastern University.

In many respects, Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo and Raphael crafted the image of the creative genius that we still hold today. But if we allow ourselves to look more closely at the artistic practices of these central figures, we find a number of apparent contradictions. Rather than fonts of continuously new and original ideas, springing freely from their heads as we might have been led to imagine, we find that both artists borrowed or stole a great deal from each other, repeated themselves prodigiously, and collaborated widely. Taking examples from painting, architecture, and drawing, the lecture will suggest how the works of Michelangelo and Raphael suggest a distinct model for aesthetic invention and exploration.  

Cammy Brothers

Cammy Brothers is an Associate Professor at Northeastern University, where she holds a joint appointment in Architecture and in Art & Design. She joined Northeastern in 2016 from the University of Virginia, where she held the Valmarana Chair and was Director of the Venice Program. She is the author of two monographs, Michelangelo, Drawing and the Invention of Architecture (2008) and Giuliano da Sangallo and the Ruins of Rome (2022). She has a third book project under way, “The Architectural Legacy of Islamic Spain,” which focuses on the cities of Granada and Seville in the aftermath of the reconquest.