The Madonna and Child with the Infant Baptist (The Garvagh Madonna)

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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In this little picture Raphael depicts the moment when the Christ Child takes a carnation, traditionally symbolic of divine love and the Passion (Christ’s torture and crucifixion), from his cousin John the Baptist’s hand. The space between the children’s hands is the centre of the careful geometry of the composition, emphasising this important moment of Christ’s acceptance of his future sacrifice for humanity. The Virgin appears lost in melancholy thought. Perhaps she is thinking of the children’s destinies. The picture is one of several small and medium-sized Madonnas that Raphael produced at the same time as he was painting a suite of rooms in the Vatican palace for the pope, the so-called stanze. It was probably made for a member of the papal court for private devotion, although we do not know who commissioned it.

The National Gallery, London



The Madonna and Child with the Infant Baptist (The Garvagh Madonna)


about 1509-10


Oil on wood


H 38.9 x W 32.9 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1865

Work type



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