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Renaissance art piece formal analysis Descriptive Essay


The Renaissance period has presented a lot of masterpieces of art which has formed the cradle of modern culture. The works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael are famous all over the world. The perfectness and harmony of their art pieces have determined the principles of the world art development.

Raphael is one of the most prominent Italian artists who made his masterpieces during the Renaissance period. Sistine Madonna is one of his most discussed works which was completed before his death. Today it is located in the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, Germany. It attracts the public’s attention with its inimitable composition and the sacred meaning which is hidden in Madonna’s and her son’s views.

Sistine Madonna is an oil painting which was completed by Raphael in 1514. This piece of art was worked out as the part of the high altar of the Monastery of San Sisto in Piacenza. It was the Benedictine monks’ wish to have such a painting as the altarpiece. The composition of the work can be divided into two parts.

However, the center of the composition is Madonna who is on clouds with her son Jesus in her hands. Madonna is looking in front of her. Jesus is looking at something which is left to him. We also can observe the images of Saint Sixtus and Saint Barbara nearby. Saint Sixtus is looking at Madonna and pointing at something in that direction where Jesus is looking.

It seems that he tries to warn Madonna. Two small winged cherubs who are situated beneath Madonna finish the composition. They are often considered as the independent part of the painting. The background of the work is rather soft and light. We can discover the obscured images of cherubs there.

The color scheme of the painting is rather contrasting because the background of the composition is pale and the main figures are depicted in quite dark colors. Raphael used the tones of dark blue and dark green colors to portray the figures. The dress of Saint Sixtus is in golden colors. Definite details of Madonna’s and Saint Sixtus’s dresses are presented in a bright purple color.

The most discussed issue connected with this religious painting is the meaning of the expressions on the faces of Madonna and Jesus. It was not typical for the art of that period to portray Madonnas with such a worried face.

Moreover, the child seems to be even frightened. Many critics and historians tried to find the answer to this question. It was hidden in the peculiarities of the altar where the painting should be located. Thus, according to one hypothesis, Jesus was looking and Saint Sixtus was pointing at a crucifix as a sign of the death.

Sistine Madonna is one of the most famous religious oil paintings made by Raphael. Moreover, it is the last image of Madonna completed by him for the church or monastery.

This painting became the most prominent example of portraying the religious themes in art for many generations of artists. Many critics emphasize that in this work Madonna looks like an ordinary woman who feels the great responsibility and even fears for her son.

This great painting was developed for the Benedictine monks’ Monastery of San Sisto and has determined the principles of portraying religious motives and images in the works of the Renaissance age. Sistine Madonna became the last image from the series of Madonnas’ depictions made by Raphael.

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IvyPanda. (2019, March 31). Renaissance art piece formal analysis. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/renaissance-art-piece-formal-analysis/

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"Renaissance art piece formal analysis." IvyPanda, 31 Mar. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/renaissance-art-piece-formal-analysis/.

1. IvyPanda. "Renaissance art piece formal analysis." March 31, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/renaissance-art-piece-formal-analysis/.


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IvyPanda. "Renaissance art piece formal analysis." March 31, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/renaissance-art-piece-formal-analysis/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Renaissance art piece formal analysis." March 31, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/renaissance-art-piece-formal-analysis/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Renaissance art piece formal analysis'. 31 March.

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