Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Studies of the Christ Child

Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio or Santi) (Italian, Urbino 1483–1520 Rome)
Red chalk
Sheet: 8 5/8 x 6 9/16 in. (22 x 16.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Florence B. Selden Bequest, 1997
Accession Number:
Not on view
This animated sheet of studies done from a live model may be dated about 1513-14, to Raphael's mature years in Rome, when his artistic vocabulary focused on the sculptural monumentality of form and the dramatic effect of lighting as compositional devices. At this point in his dazzling career at the papal court, Raphael produced some of his most accomplished drawings in red and black chalks to fulfill his numerous commissions, many of them for paintings of the Madonna and Child.

The medium of chalk, which enables a soft blending of the individual strokes by rubbing with the fingers or a cloth to achieve delicately uniform shadows, was uniquely suited to Raphael's explorations of tone. Here, the artist gives a breathtaking rendition of the infant's dimpled flesh. The Metropolitan Museum study was preparatory for a composition of the Holy Family with the Infant Saint John, known from two painted versions largely executed by Raphael's close assistants (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum and Rome, Galleria Borghese). In this study, one of Raphael's main concerns was to explore the naturalistic movement of the Christ Child's pose. In the final paintings, Christ provides the compositional link among the holy figures, for he stands on his mother's lap and reaches to the boy Saint John the Baptist, who is meant to be kneeling on the left.

(Carmen C. Bambach, 2006)
Marking: Collector's stamp of Paul Mathias Polakovits (1921-1987; Lugt 3561). Numbered on top right in pen and brown ink "J.95."
Paul Mathias Polakovits; Sotheby's, New York (American), January 29, 1997, lot 26; Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh. "Raphael: The Pursuit of Perfection," May 5, 1994–July 10, 1994.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," October 6, 1997–January 4, 1998.

Galleria Borghese, Rome. "Raffaello da Firenze a Roma," March 30, 2006–July 16, 2006.

Rafaello nelle raccolte Borghese. Exh. cat., Galleria Borghese, Rome. Rome, 1984, p. 57.

Eckhart Knab, Erwin Mitsch, Konrad Oberhuber, Sylvia Ferino-Pagden Raffaello: I Disegni. Florence, 1984, p. 596, no. 153.

Paul Joannides "The Early Easel Paintings of Giulio Romano." Paragone. No. 36 (425), July 1985, pp. 43-44.

Aidan Weston-Lewis Raphael, The Pursuit of Perfection. Exh. cat., National Galleries of Scotland. Edinburgh, 1994, no. 37, fig. 59, ill.

George R. Goldner, Colta Ives, Carolyn Logan, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1996-1997." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.s., vol. 55, no. 2, Autumn 1997, p. 28 (entry by George R. Goldner).

Raffaello da Firenze a Roma. Exh. cat. Galleria Borghese, Rome (May 19 - August 27, 2006). Edited by Anna Coliva, Milan, 2006, p. 166, no. 49 (entry by Paul Joannides).

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