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Johann Michael Wittmer (1802-80)

Raphael's First Sketch of the 'Madonna della Sedia' Signed and dated 1853

Oil on canvas | 98.3 x 74.6 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 403635

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This picture is based on a nineteenth-century legend about the life of Raphael. According to the story the artist sketched his famous painting Madonna della Sedia on the base of a wine barrel, thereby immortalising both the young mother who served as model together with the tree from which the barrel was made. Raphael's entranced audience includes elegantly dressed courtiers and a barefoot cooper. Wittmer is perhaps suggesting that everyone, regardless of class or education, agrees on what makes great art eternally beautiful.