Title: Madonna of the Golden Finch

Date: 1506

Location of the work: Uffizi Museum

Medium: Tempera on wood

Approximate dimensions of work: 107 x 77

The Madonna of the Golden Finch is arguably Raphael’s most famous Madonna and Child painting. Originally this painting was commissioned for Lorenzo di Bartolomeo Nasi’s wedding in 1506. In 1574 it was badly damaged, in the collapse of the Nasi home and was restored later.

In this painting Mary is portrayed in her traditional red and blue garb. As he often did Rafael depicted Mary as a loving gazing down at John and Jesus. John appears to be handing Jesus a bird. At first glance this is a cute scene, but when examined more closely it is fraught with symbolism.  Mary’s traditional blue mantle represents purity. John is depicted in his traditional camel skin garb which references the garb he wore when he was preaching in the wilderness. The bird that John is handing Jesus is a golden finch which is a symbol of Christ’s Passion and death on the cross. This Symbolism comes from the fact that the golden finch feeds among thorns and thistles, which could be references to the crown of thorns or the nails in Jesus hands and feet.

References:
“Uffizi Florence-Great Museums of the Word”
http://www.virtualuffizi.com

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