The Holy Family with a Palm Tree
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The Holy Family with a Palm Tree

On Display Scottish National Gallery

The tondo (circular painting) was popular in Renaissance Florence for private apartments. Raphael has carefully planned his composition to complement the shape, with the Christ Child at its centre, and created a supremely harmonised and balanced relationship between the three figures. This is one of several variations on the theme of the Virgin and Child and the Holy Family that Raphael explored during his four years in Florence. The palm tree, flowers and fountain or well-head may be inspired by references in special devotions (litanies) to the Virgin Mary, which would be appropriate for a private devotional picture.

Glossary Open

Composition

The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Devotional art

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

Idealisation

The representation of something as a model of perfection.

Renaissance

A period in European culture from the 14th to the 16th centuries in which the visual arts flourished with advances in the treatment of anatomy and the use of perspective. It is particularly associated with Italy, where it began, though the term applies elsewhere. It is noted for a revival of interest in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.

Tondo

A circular painting or relief sculpture.

Composition, Devotional art, Idealisation, Renaissance, Tondo

Details

  • Acc. No. NGL 062.46
  • Medium Oil and gold on canvas, transferred from panel
  • Size Circular, diameter: 101.50 cm (framed: 139.50 x 140.50 x 17.00 cm)
  • Credit Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland (Bridgewater Loan, 1945)