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The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Nicholas of Bari (The Ansidei Madonna)

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This is the main panel of the altarpiece Raphael painted for the Ansidei family chapel in the Servite Church of S. Fiorenzo in Perugia in 1505.

The Virgin sits in majesty on a carved wooden throne with the Christ Child on her lap. She draws his attention to a passage in the book on her knee. A string of coral beads ending in jewelled crosses like a rosary is suspended from the throne, a reminder of the blood Christ will shed at the Crucifixion. The Latin inscription, ‘SALVE MATER CHRISTI’ (‘Hail Mother of Christ’), would have acted as a prompt to the recitation of the rosary. John the Baptist points to the infant Christ and gazes at his own cross, in foreknowledge of Christ’s future death. Saint Nicholas concentrates on his book.

Raphael carefully calculated the geometry of the composition, using an incised grid to divide it horizontally and vertically into harmonious thirds before he began painting.

The National Gallery, London



The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Nicholas of Bari (The Ansidei Madonna)




Oil on poplar


H 216.8 x W 147.6 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1885

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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