Monday, 27 June 2016

Eureka! Raphael’s Madonna

Eureka – Ancient Greek for  I have found it!
Raphael’s Madonna del Libra was known as the jewel of the Renaissance.

Prince G. Gagarin, Vice President of the Academy of Arts, advised Alexander II in 1870 that Count Conestabile was selling the Madonna in Florence. Stepan Gedeonov, Director of the Imperial Hermitage, purcheased the painting in April 1871.
Alexander II gave it to his wife for their 20th anniversary. The Empress kept the Madonna in her Crimson Cabinet (#305) in the Winter Palace.

A special committee of the Hermitage determined in 1872 that tow cracks in the wood-based layer were expanding. A decision was made to transfer the painting to the Hermitage to ensure its preservation.
Although exhibited there, the painting continued to be listed in the inventories as “Property of Her Majesty” and only changed its legal status after her death in 1880.
A few months ago checking the updated Royal Collection, I recognized this photo as the Empress’ cabinet.

A Eureka moment!
Photographic verification of Raphael’s Madonna described in the 1872 archival documents.
Other clues within the photo have added much to my research. Yet a conundrum … the easel.

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