The Virgin and Child ('The Bridgewater Madonna') about 1507

On Display Scottish National Gallery

Raphael made many drawings and paintings of the Virgin and Child, in part inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci in Florence. Here he achieved a particularly graceful combination of poses, with an elegant twist (contrapposto) in both. The exchange of glances further emphasises the tender relationship between the beautiful mother and child. Technical analysis has revealed that the artist originally painted a landscape background. Raphael may have decided that a dark setting was a better foil for the subtle modelling of his figures in light and shadow. The painting was probably made as a devotional image for a private chamber.

Glossary Open

Contrapposto

This term usually refers to a standing human figure carrying its weight on one leg so that the opposite hip rises to produce a relaxed curve in the body, although it can be used more generally to describe any twisted figure. It is associated with Renaissance sculptors who looked back to Ancient Greek and Roman models for inspiration.

Devotional art

Religious images used privately as a focus of prayer or an aid to meditation.

Contrapposto, Devotional art

Details

  • Acc. No. NGL 065.46
  • Medium Oil and gold on canvas, transferred from panel
  • Size Painted area: 81.00 x 55.00 cm; 82.00 x 57.00 cm (framed: 115.00 x 90.50 x 12.00 cm)
  • Credit Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland (Bridgewater Loan, 1945)