Madonna del Cardellino Raphael Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Madonna del Cardellino is a painting by Raphael, who was a Renaissance artist, and it is from c. 1505-1506

In 2008, a ten-year process of restoration was completed, it was then returned to Uffizi located in Florence, which is its home. An antique copy replaced it in the gallery during restoration.

In Madonna del Cardellino, as in many of the Madonnas of Raphael's Florentine period, he arranged the three figures: young John the Baptist, Mary and Christ to fit into a GD (geometrical design). Although the three body positions are natural, together they all form a shape that is an almost regular triangle.

As with the various other Madonnas by Raphael, the Madonna is portrayed young and beautiful. Also, she's clothed in blue and red.

The blue signifies the church while the red was used to signify the passion of Christ. John and Christ are still young: only babies. In John's hand, he's holding a goldfinch. The background is typically Raphael style. The setting, which is natural, is diverse and still calmly frames the main subject that is occurring.

The Madonna is Raphael's wedding gift to Lorenzo Nasi, his friend. On 17 November 1548, an earthquake destroyed Nasi's home and the painting ended up breaking into 17 pieces. It was instantly taken to be restored, and it was quickly put back together, but the seams were visible.

George Bonsanti of the organisation called Precious Stones gave the restoration task to Patrizia Riitano in 2002. During the 6-year process that followed, Riitano's team worked on removing the grime years that degraded the colour of the painting and fixing the damage caused by the earthquake.

Before starting the project, the team studied the work closely, and utilised resources like a laser, reflective infra-red photography, CAT scans and X-rays. Riitano studied the quick fix layers of the past that had been applied, she removed them until Raphael's original finally shone through. In 2008, the restoration was completed, and the painting put in Uffizi on display.

In Madonna Del Cardellino by Raphael, the goldfinch represents the crucifixion of Christ. The reason for its connection originates from the legend that goldfinch's red spot was born during the crucifixion time. It flew down over Christ's head, and it was taking a thorn from the crown of Christ when His blood splashed it.

The book in the hand of Mary reads The Throne of Wisdom (Sedes Sapientiae). The term is usually applied to images that have Mary seated upon a throne, together with Jesus on her lap. However, in this painting, the inscription implies that the rock that Mary is sitting on is her natural throne.