Special exhibition marks 500 years of Raphael′s Madonna | News | DW | 26.05.2012
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Special exhibition marks 500 years of Raphael's Madonna

A new exhibition opens in Dresden, the home of Raphael's iconic painting of the Madonna with its even more famous cherubs. After half a millenium, the image still draws the crowd.

The famous cherubs at the base of Raphael's altar painting, Sistine Madonna.

Sixtinische Madonna von Raffael

A major anniversary exhibition opens in Dresden today to celebrate 500 years since Renaissance master Raphael painted his iconic Sistine Madonna - most famous for the two cherubs at the base of the canvas.

The painting's owners, the Old Master Picture Gallery in Dresden have produced a special, historical and cultural exhibition around the work which continues until August 2012.

The Dresden exhibition is divided into four sections covering Raphael in Rome; acquisition and removal of the Sistine Madonna from Italy to Dresden; the place of the painting within literature, art, music and design and the cherubs' international career as a stand-alone artwork.

Raphael in Rome

From 1508, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known just as “Raphael” lived and worked in Rome, invited by Pope Julius II and his architect for St. Peter's, Donato Bramante who was distantly related to Raphael.

Working on Vatican projects and portraits, including those of his two main patrons, the popes Julius II and his successor Leo X Raphael, Raphael eventually had a workshop of fifty pupils and assistants. The Sistine Madonna is one of the last works he is known to have painted with his own hands.

Commissioned as an alterpiece for the Benedictine monastery of San Sisto in Piacenza, the Sistine Madonna is one of his last works. Raphael finished it around 1513 - a few years before he died aged 37 years in 1520.

From Piacenza to Dresden

In 1754, the painting was purchased and brought to Dresden where it became the centerpiece of the city's presentation of art. It remained there until taken to Moscow for ten years before its return in 1955. This year's anniversary exhibition confirms the painting's iconic status at the heart of the gallery.

The exhibition continues until August 26, 2012.

jm/msh (dpa, kna, epd)