Madonna della Sedia
About the work
This painting was probably made by a 19th-century copyist after Raphael's original in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. The 'Madonna della Sedia' was painted in Rome in around 1514 and is named after the chair in which the Madonna sits. She is shown protectively cradling the infant Christ, while a young John the Baptist looks on. The 'Madonna della Sedia' had become part of the Pitti collection by the 18th century. Napoleonic troops took it back to Paris in 1799 and it was not returned to Florence until 1815.
Although, in this painting, it seems as though the copyist has retained Raphael's original round 'tondo' format, the canvas is in fact square beneath the frame.
Raphael remains one of the most famous of all artists and was highly praised by such 18th-century critics as Sir Joshua Reynolds and Johann Joachim Wincklemann. He continued to be held in high regard throughout the 19th century, as this copy demonstrates. However, not everyone felt similarly well disposed towards him. The writer and artist John Ruskin wrote in his Florentine diary of 1845 that Raphael's 'Madonna della Sedia' was 'a clever, well-finished, vulgar, piece of maternity, very uncopiable'.