Raphael's Masterpiece On Show in Milan for the Holidays

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 06:00

Madonna of Foligno, Raphael, 1512.

During the holidays, Milano will be graced by one of Raphael’s artistic masterpiece: the Madonna of Foligno, on loan from the Vatican Museums.

The painting is on view in the Sala Alessi inside Palazzo Marino until January 12, 2014.

The extraordinary painting was executed in 1512 for Sigismondo de' Conti, chamberlain to Pope Julius II, as a votive offering for sparing his home in Foligno after lightning struck it. It was placed in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, where Sigismondo was buried the same year.

A descendant of Sigismondo moved it to the monastery of St. Anne in Foligno in 1565, where it remained for more than two centuries.

In 1799 it was carried to Paris by Napoleon. There, in 1802, in a rare procedure, the painting was transferred from the original wood panel to canvas.

In 1816, it was returned to Italy and placed in the Pinacoteca Vaticana of the Vatican Museums, where Raphael’s Transfiguration also stands.

It is the first time in 197 years that the Madonna of Foligno has traveled outside of Rome.

The painting depicts the Virgin and Child at the center, supported by a cloud of angels, with the figure of Sigismondo below, between St. Francis, St. John the Baptist and Saint Jerome. 

The exhibition is sponsored by ENI and the city of Milan, which for the sixth consecutive year bring an artistic masterpiece to the city as a Christmas gift (entrance is free). Artworks from previous editions include Conversion on the Way to Damascus by Caravaggio, St. John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci, Woman with a Mirror by Titian, and Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss (Amore e Psiche) by Antonio Canova, which ended up being the most visited exhibition in Italy in 2012.