The Ansidei Madonna by Raphael


THIS altarpiece, painted about 1507, was commissioned by the Ansidei family of Perugia to be placed in the Church of San Fiorenzo. It is in a remarkably fine state of preservation, having lost little of its original freshness of color. The delicacy and minuteness with which Raphael handled detail in this altarpiece recalls the painting of Flanders and is testimony to Raphael's early admiration of the work of Roger van der Weyden and Justus of Ghent.

It is foolish to think of the term "eclectic" only in an unfavorable sense. Mere imitation of another style is, of course, no great achievement. The use of another style to make one's artistic expression personal is more worthy of praise and admiration. Raphael, during his entire development, was always receptive to new influences if they could be adapted and translated to help his painting. This panel shows more than Raphael's admiration for the Flemish painters; it has, too, the unmistakable imprint of Perugino, his teacher. But nowhere is there imitation or mimicry. While Raphael took freely from others, he gave even more largely of his own personal, intimate self.

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