Raphael's Alba Madonna by Mary Elizabeth Podles

A Thousand Words

Raphael's
Alba Madonna

by Mary Elizabeth Podles

In 1508, the young Raffaello Sanzio was hired away from Florence to Rome to assist in the decorations of the Vatican Palace, work that occupied him until the time of his death. During his Roman years, he also accepted private commissions for easel paintings like this one (Figure 1). The physician, writer, and prelate Paolo Giovio most likely commissioned the Alba Madonna around 1510 or 1511, intending to hang it over the altar of his church in Nocera.

At first blush, it is a simple enough devotional image: the Madonna, seated on the ground and leaning against a grassy bank, holds the baby Jesus on her lap while the infant John the Baptist looks on; behind them spreads a serene and pastoral landscape.

THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:


Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!

Online
Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.


more on art from the online archives

32.4—July/August 2019

Sojourner Knight

on Single-Mindedness in Durer's Ritter, Tod, und Teufel by Anthony Costello

30.3—May/June 2017

St. Luke the Evangelist

by Mary Elizabeth Podles

33.2—March/April 2020

Christ Chapel at Hillsdale

An Architectural Sign of Mere Christianity by Michael Ward


more from the online archives

31.4—July/August 2018

The Names of the Christian

Labels & the Ecumenism of Discipleship by James M. Kushiner

33.2—March/April 2020

Christian Pro-Family Governments?

Old & New Lessons from Europe by Allan C. Carlson

32.4—July/August 2019

An Alien Warfare

Today's Culture Wars Are Both Ancient & Modern by Allan C. Carlson

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

00