Portrait of Maddalena Doni 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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The classic Portrait of Maddalena Doni was done by Raphael as an oil painting in 1506. Born in Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino in 1483, Raphael was an architect and painter during Italian Renaissance.

The Portrait of Maddalena depicts a newly married Agnolo Doni, a merchant and his wife Maddalena Strozzi Doni in 1503. When looked from an artistic eye, the Portrait of Maddalena has a composition similar to Mona Lisa. The presentation of the figures in Mona Lisa and the Portrait of Maddalena appear more or less the same in picture plain. A picture plane is simply an image that is placed between an eye point and the object which is being observed or viewed.

Though Raphael cannot be classified as an artistic innovator like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he received praise as a painter of High Renaissance for his works like the Portrait of Maddalena. His praise and being viewed in the same league with Leonardo and Michelangelo was because Raphael would portray ideal and noble individuals that would move.

He did painting in Northern Italy but was never stationed in one centre but spent much time in Florence from 1504. The Portrait of Maddalena Doni is admired for its clarity, it is a composition of ease and visual presentation of human brilliance. Due to his brilliance in painting, Raphael belongs to the trinity of Italy’s master painters that also include Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Raphael's Portrait of Maddalena Doni is housed in Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy.

In the Portrait of Maddalena, Raphael sketched from memory — perhaps borrowing from Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo’s works. While in Rome, Raphael developed the oil technique. Raphael would apply paint in glazes that were layers of paint. This style that referred to as indirect painting. It was a method that Raphael and his peers perfected when they adapted the egg-tempera painting method. Raphael used pigments that were ground and mixed with linseed oil. Raphael was also influenced by Venetian painting style and his mastery of fresco when he painted the Portrait of Maddalena.

Their hands in both Mona Lisa and the Portrait of Maddalena are similar where they have been positioned on top of each other. But the Portrait of Maddalena has a low horizon of the background landscape which allows a cautious artistic presentation of the human body. Raphael provided a uniform light that defied volumes and surfaces in this portrait. The Portrait of Maddalena is a relationship between a human figure and landscape which brings out a perfect contrast to Leonardo's striking settings in his paintings. And so the threatening presence of nature in the Portrait of Maddalena has been brought out clearly.

A look at the Portrait of Maddalena has a notable characteristic that differentiates it from Leonardo da Vinci’s portraits. And it is a complete sense of calmness that even if you pay great attention to the jewels and clothes that draw your attention to this couple's wealth, the complete sense of calmness cannot be weakened. The diverse elements in Portrait of Maddalena have worked out together and brought out a clear-cut and defined balance. Little wonder, Raphael's Portrait of Maddalena and other of his works have a link of kinship and subjects that brings out stylistic homogeneity that showed Raphael's mastery in art.