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The Madonna of the Pinks ('La Madonna dei Garofani')

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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In this painting, Raphael transforms the familiar subject of the Virgin and Child into something entirely new. The figures are no longer posed stiffly and formally as in paintings by earlier artists, but display all the tender emotions one might expect between a young mother and her child. The pair are seated in a bedchamber in an Italian Renaissance palace, and exchange carnations, which are symbolic of divine love and of Christ’s Passion (his torture and crucifixion). This small picture may have been intended to be held in the hand for prayer and contemplation. A manuscript inventory dating to the early 1520s states that it was made for ‘Maddalena degli Oddi, a nun in Perugia'. It is freely based on Leonardo da Vinci’s Benois Madonna (State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg).

The National Gallery, London



The Madonna of the Pinks ('La Madonna dei Garofani')


about 1506-7


Oil on yew


H 27.9 x W 22.4 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation), the American Friends of the National Gallery, London, the George Beaumont Group, Sir Christopher Ondaatje and through public appeal, 2004

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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