May 6, 2011

Raphael's Madonnas

One of my favorite artists, and one who especially loved to paint our Blessed Mother, was Raphael Santi.  Raphael was an artist of the high Renaissance and a contemporary (and rival) of Michelangelo. The Madonna seem to be one of his favorite subjects.  One of his most popular is the Madonna of the Chair.  It is painted on a circular piece of wood, which seems to really draw the viewer into the subjects. What I  like best about his paintings are the expressions he puts on the face of his Madonnas.  It is one of peace and tranquility.  

A good number of Raphael's paintings of our Lady show her with Jesus and the young John the Baptist, usually outside in a meadow or in a garden outside a city.  What is striking to me is that the Child Jesus and his cousin are not tiny infants but often toddlers, are usually naked and quite robust.  The other aspect of his compositions that stands out for me is the tenderness of the interactions between Mary and the holy Children.  It is one that any of us who are mothers can easily relate to.  They are very natural and show the true humanity of the Virgin and her Offspring. 

As things have it, I had planned to write about Raphael's paintings and a friend and a classmate of mine from Notre Dame posted this on Facebook yesterday. It includes a number of Raphael's paintings.  He posted it as a tribute to his mother who passed away this year.  I post it in honor of our Lady, in memory of Tom's mom, and for all our mothers.  It is a beautiful composition of Ave Maria by Morten Lauridsen, a contemporary composer.  I hope you enjoy it. I did.

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