If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:6:56

Video transcript

we're in the National Gallery in Washington DC and we're looking at a really beautiful painting it's Raphael's Alba Madonna from 15 about 1510 Raphael was famous for his incredibly beautiful and sweet Madonna's and this is a perfect example of that it has a really unusual feeling you have the Virgin Mary you have the young Christ on her lap but if you look at the way that her arms are extended and the way that her lap is extended it's almost as if she's really a kind of a throne for him to sit on but we have essentially same cast of characters that we have in Leonardo's virgin of the rocks-- so the third figure Saint John the Baptist and then I hope dancer if missing here that was in million art it was the figure of an angel and of course we've entered into the high Renaissance now in a way that in a sense the angel has really disappeared those sort of covert expressionist figures that's right there's a overt expressions of the divine okay it is since they've been replaced by nature itself rather definitely has looked at Leonardo and his Madonna has her arm around Saint John much the same way that she does in the Virgin of the rock and we have those lingering after all she's his aunt that's true we have those lingering faint halo the faintest trace right and they're going to be gone actually it's basically an order they'd already been gone but Raphael still holding on some a bit but you're right there's a kind of overwhelming humanism fear a humanism that's transcended by the ideal beauty of the figure so he's really expressing divinity through this ideal beauty yes and also I think through the incredibly fluid and graceful way that the figures move almost like dance it is almost like this it's a incredibly complicated Mary looks down half st. John almost looking into the future her arm around him her left hand holding a page in the Bible the Christ child twisting as he's her nod is sort of accepting the cross right a kind of acceptance of his destiny his sacrifice right mary has her right leg tucked under her left leg coming up there's a sense that she's almost caught moving here there's nothing static about any part of this image even though there's this lack of the static there's also a kind of I guess because if there's scale within the landscape what kind of monument yeah this is money mentality this sort of sense of seriousness here absolutely and they are in this beautiful natural environment and yet we get a sense of a kind of classicism I mean he's you know Raphael is in Rome yeah and he's really looking at the classical yet classical and he's concurrently working on this is quite a moment sounds of The Scindia Turin so staphon's included there and at the same time Michelangelo of course is painting the Sistine Chapel Royal at this moment so there's this incredible interest in monumental serious figures and monumental commissions and major mass but this is a this is a fairly modest painting you needed scale that three feet yeah that's right I mean this is just something he does on the side and isn't it what a man going back to this to the idea of Leonardo yeah there's a lot of Leonardo I mean if you look at the indelicate and careful renderings for instance of the power yeah these botanical specimens very much like in a Madonna of the road very much like you Don of the rock hard to know if Raphael himself is looking at Northern Renaissance painting or he's got that influence sort of indirectly so that's interesting we talked about the classical influence but also a little bit of the north yeah and we have an oil painting yeah that's right and so originally on panel and we have none of that kind of school motto smokey mysteriousness that we have in Leonardo this or a clarity here and sweetness bed of mystery anything it's just I mean if you look at the composition it's just so beautifully handled within the circular frame which is a tough thing oh my god it's really hard to make things fit comfortably within that circus okay and the figures don't feel cramped I feels that they have room to move and yet we it does not call attention to the circle at all to the rules of the Rhonda it's just this really carefully rendered and this incredible kind of intimacy as well between the figures mean they're not really looking at each other although Christ may be sort of looking at John John as you said is sort of looking upward towards heaven Mary seems to almost be looking a little bit past the two of them but nevertheless this is wonderful kind of bomb this wonderful color is beautiful kind of intimacy and there's a kind of interaction between the figures that I think is really unique to the high Renaissance there's a loss of that kind of static separateness between the figures that was still there in the early Renaissance it was a sorry cos it's a little bit of a kind of clunkiness yeah kind of isolation of the figures yeah but we see it disappear certainly in Leonardo's Last Supper and of course we see we also see that in the Colangelo ceiling yantras being painted at this very moment I did unifying the composition but in a pyramid shape also it's here and the atmospheric perspective it's gorgeous isn't it do you think that looks like a tuscan hillside you know I would think so except that because of the classical influence and because of the idea that he's in Rome maybe something closer to the outskirts of Rome especially with some of the older buildings in the back very picturesque really the kind of thing that later 18th century painters will pick up on me and if she's kidding I'm looking at her right side she's leaning on some rock it must be or sitting against a tree stump it's a little bit hard to make out so we have the idea of the Madonna familiar seated on the ground an image which emphasizes her humbleness and even though she sort of provides her body as a throne for Christ she herself is sitting on the ground and is a hug very humble figure that's right humbled but still having a kind of divinity and importance and part of that again comes from the classicizing of the hose of the figures but also look here Raphael has dressed at least Mary in class and in fact her the way her clothing clings to her leg reminds me of classical sculpture I mean very specific that's true probably the sculpture that Raphael would not have seen Yeah right things that are in Greece and nevertheless you're right maybe there were some sources he must've seen some ancient Greek relief sculptures I imagine yeah and there was real interest at this moment absolutely they're digging things up all over you you