The Madonna of the Harpies by Andrea Del Sarto


IT IS significant of no more than the vast number of Madonnas painted by the Italian masters of the Renaissance that an obscure detail of this "Madonna and Child" by Andrea Del Sarto has given the picture its name. Curious, but of no particular interest in the composition, are the little winged female figures of the harpies. They may suggest, if we incline to seek such meanings, the contrast between good and evil.

Choosing, with questionable wisdom, Andrea Del Sarto as a symbol of the artist in his attitude to life and work, Browning has made him say:

I am grown peaceful as old age tonight.
I regret little, I would change still less.
Since there my past life lies, why alter it? . . .
This must suffice me here. What would one have?
In heaven, perhaps, new chances, one more chance--
Four great walls in the New Jerusalem,
Meted on each side by the angel's reed,
For Leonard, Rafael, Agnolo, and me
To cover,--the three first without a wife,
While I have mine! . . .

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