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.