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THERE exists a great number of religious pictures that delineate no particular event in sacred history. When the rules of propriety are strictly observed, as in the picture before us, such performances may truly be regarded as poetical compositions.
When Raphael painted this work, he had formed his taste by the productions of Perugino, Fra. Bartholomeo, and Garofalo. Under these masters he acquired a manner at once simple and dignified, to which he added all that grace for which he was distinguished. In what then was he deficient? In that grandeur of style, which the study of Michael Angelo opened to his view. But while he appropriated to himself all that the style of his rival offered as majestic and sublime, he had the talent to combine with firmness, that pleasing simplicity, which distinguishes his first productions, and to avoid that excess for which, at times, the chief of the Florentine school may perhaps be censured.
Authors by no means accord as to the names of the Saints, which Raphael has placed by the side of the throne of the Virgin. From a received opinion we are led to believe they are Fathers of the Church, but the different attributes, and the costume of the personages, appear to suppress that idea.
THE VIRGIN, THE INFANT JESUS, &c.
Raphael has painted nothing more graceful than the group of the Virgin and the Infant Jesus. The angels, raising a drapery, appear to float in the air; the two others, holding a scroll, combine the idea of celestial essence, with the naïvète of infantine beings.
This capital picture was formerly in the gallery at Florence; it is painted on pasteboard, highly varnished, and is now in the museum at Paris.