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Audio Stop 318

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A woman and two children, all with creamy white skin, 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 her 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 on 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

Not On View

In this “Madonna of Humility,” the Virgin Mary is seated directly on the ground instead of on a heavenly throne or a sumptuous cushion. The artist grouped the figures in a broad, low pyramid, aligning them within a circle in such a way that they not only conform to their space, but dominate it as well. The Roman style Raphael adapted can be seen in the painting’s delicacy of color and mood, with figures draped in rose pink, pale blue, and green, set in an idealized, classical landscape. Despite the serene atmosphere, the Christ Child’s gesture of accepting the cross from John the Baptist is the focus of attention of all three figures, as if they have foreknowledge of Christ’s later sacrifice for humankind.

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