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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 Visitation is a famous painting by an Italian painter Rafael Sanzio. The painting shows the artist’s mastery in the art, and that is why it is by far among his most recognized work.

Painted in 1517, The Visitation artwork shows a picture of two women, whose age difference has clearly been shown in the painter. Raphael depicts a pregnant young Mary who has paid her cousin Saint Elizabeth a visit. In the painting, Saint Elizabeth appears to be a little aged to show the miracle in her pregnancy as the Bible states it. The two women are sharing greetings in a beautiful landscape with a lush green background. There are angels seen in the background. The angels guided the Virgin Mary to her cousin Saint Elizabeth.

The visitation artwork is a religious painting that was commissioned by Giovanni Branconio upon the request of his father Marino Branconio. They needed a painting for their family chapel at a church in Aquila, and Marino paid for Raphael Sanzio’s services, as he was a renowned painter at the time. In 1655, The Visitation artwork was owned by Felipe IV, who later deposited the painting at El Escorial. However, in 1837, the painting had found its way to the Prado Museum. The painting was transferred from panel to canvas later for preservations.

For the years in Raphael's career, the painter had mastered his oil painting techniques. He learnt this painting technique while living in Rome. It is also in Rome where Raphael joined the high renaissance art movement, which is evident in most f his paintings; including The Visitation. Through the high renaissance movement, Raphael was able to create religious paintings from simple scriptures from the Bible. The Visitation comes from Bible story in Luke and clearly, Raphael was able to capture the whole story in one artwork, including the two women’s age difference and the delight in their faces.

Raphael also used mannerism, which was late renaissance movement and he created The Visitation in a manner that showed movement in the two women. The use of mannerism in the painting depicts the two women movements through the pose captured in the painting. Raphael was known to be a master of mannerism, which was also the late stages of the renaissance in the late 16th century, he worked alongside Leonardo da Vinci in leading the renaissance movement.

At the time Raphael Sanzio was living in Rome, he had mastered the art of painting using oil. He learnt the use of different colours and shades, which he used in most of his famous paintings. In The Visitation, Raphael used oil paint on panel, which was later transferred to canvas. Raphael was paid by Apostolic Protonotary Giovanni Branconio, who commissioned the painting upon the request of his father Marino Branconio. The Visitation was to be used in their family chapel in Aquila. Giulio Romano and Giovan Francesco Penni – these were Raphael’s art students who were believed to have played a huge part in the creation of The Visitation. They help in all the artwork in the painting under the supervision of Raphael. Leonardo da Vinci – He was the master of renaissance movement and a close friend to Raphael.