Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Wedding of the Virgin

Title: The Wedding of the Virgin

Artist: Raphael

Medium: Oil on round-headed panel

Size: 170 x 117 cm

Date: 1504

Location: Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

Matthew 1:24-25 records that when Joseph woke up from his dream, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

By painting his name and the date, 1504, in the frieze of the temple in the distance, Raphael abandoned anonymity and confidently announced himself as the creator of the work. The main figures stand in the foreground: Joseph is solemnly placing the ring on the Virgin's finger, and in his left hand he is holding the flowering staff, the symbol that he is the chosen one. His wooden staff has blossomed, while those of the other suitors have remained dry. Two of the suitors, disappointed, are breaking their staffs. The polygonal temple in the style of Bramante establishes and dominates the structure of this composition, determining the arrangement of the foreground group and of the other figures. Caught at the culminating moment of the ceremony, the group attending the wedding reinforces the circular rhythm of the composition. The three principal figures and two members of the party are set in the foreground, while the others are arranged in depth, moving progressively farther away from the central axis. This axis, marked by the ring Joseph is about to put on the Virgin's finger, divides the paved surface and the temple into two symmetrical parts.

Raphael (1483 – April 6, 1520; full name Raffaello Sanzi or Santi) was an Italian painter and architect of the Italian High Renaissance. He is best known for his Madonnas and for his large figure compositions in the Vatican in Rome. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. Raphael was enormously productive, running an unusually large workshop, and despite his death at thirty-seven, a large body of his work remains. Many of his works are found in the Apostolic Palace of The Vatican, where the frescoed Raphael Rooms were the central, and the largest, work of his career.

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