La madonna della seggiola

La madonna della seggiola

By Raffaello Sanzio

Madonna della Seggiola is a oil painting on board (diameter 71 cm) by Raffaello Sanzio, dating back to 1513-1514 and kept in the Palatine Gallery of Palazzo Pitti in Florence.


The work is in the Medici collections since the first half of the sixteenth century. He was definitely born for a private placement, judging by the size of the table. The presence of the “camerale chair”, compositional complexity and other details suggested that the work was commissioned by Pope Leo X, and sent to his relatives in Florence. Already in the Uffizi, it was destined for the Royal Palace from the early eighteenth century. In the inventories of 1723 and 1761 it is remembered in the bedroom of Gran Principe Ferdinando. Later he was placed in the Sala di Pietro da Cortona and after the leopold of the painting, Sala di Jupiter (1771) and later in that of Mars (1793). Rastrellata during Napoleonic Spoliation, he was in Paris from 1799 to 1815. Back in Florence, from 1882 he is in the Room of Saturn [2].

The dating is based on stylistic elements, and is usually referred to after the frescoes of the Room of Heliodorus, towards 1514. There are obvious michelangiolesque quotations: in the exaggerated and muscular plasticity of some details, such as the elbow of the Child, however stunted by sweet style raffaellesco. Close to a stylistic and formal point of view is the Madonna of the Tent [1].

A popular tradition means that the inspiration for this work came to the artist as he passed through Velletri, where he saw a farmer in the place cradling his son in his lap.

The work shows Mary sitting in a chair, from which the name, kind of camerale. She turns, with the Child tight in a tender hug, toward the spectator. He attends Saint John on the right, who addresses a prayer gesture to Mary, emerging from the dark background.


The Virgin raises one of the two legs, covered with a blue drape, sliding almost forward, to create a circular rhythm that seems to suggest the rocking swing [3]. She bows her head toward her son, touching the two heads, and creating a situation of intimate gentleness. Behind the formal beauty there is a geometric compositional scheme based on curves and counter curves.

Extremely cautious are the details, which make it a work of great formal refinement. From the glittering golden fringes on the back of the chair, the embroidery on the Virgin’s shawl, to the studied approach of warm and cold colors (blue, green, red, yellow) that make the work “undoubtedly one of the greatest masterpieces of art Renaissance “[3].

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