Category: Frank Pagani

The Adoration of the Magi

Title: The Adoration of the Magi

Artist: Leonardo da Vinci

Date: 1481

Location: Uffizi, Florence, Italy

Medium: Oil and gold on canvas

Size: 97 inches by 96 inches

Commissioned in 1480, da Vinci intended to paint this for the main altar in a monastery near Florence; however, we can clearly see that it is unfinished. Leonardo left Florence for Milan shortly after receiving the contract to create this. Do not be shocked; the contact was quite pathetic and loose. The monks that drafted the contract decided that instead of paying da Vinci the full amount in cash that they would give a third of the value in property. He was not excited and in typical Leonardo fashion he didn’t finish.

The captivating and mesmerizing glow that the brown and yellow canvas expels demands the attention of the viewer. Even in its unfinished state, da Vinci pulls us into his studio as if we were an innocent bystander, watching another masterpiece being created.


Title: North Rose

Date: 1250

Location: Notre Dame de Paris, France

Medium: Stained glass

Approximant dimensions: 12.9 meters in diameter

Magnificently placed and delicately displayed, the North Rose of Notre Dame de Paris stunningly captures the artistic capabilities of the artists that have worked over the centuries to maintain it. Her grandeur is accentuated by her sheer size. At an enormous 12.9 meters in diameter, the North Rose stands out among the rest of the windows in this classic gothic structure.
The North Rose depicts many stories from the Old Testament; however, its main and central image is of the cathedral’s patron, Mary the Virgin mother of God and Christ. This Madonna and Child depiction is an original from the 13th century. The rose survived the Middle Ages when much of the windows in Paris were smashed by reformers and those who felt that dark stained windows should be replaced by better lit and more welcoming clear panes.

This typical, classic Gothic style window began one of the most widespread practices in church decoration. A must see when traveling to Paris.

Title: Madonna and Child enthroned

Date: 1200

Location: Notre Dame de Paris

Medium: Marble relief

Approximate dimensions: 5 meters by 9 meters

The grand, overwhelming and absolutely stunning Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral is a must see when traveling in Paris. Mary, the virgin mother of God Himself, is the patron of this magnificent structure. Enthroned above the main portal, she presents Jesus Christ to the parishioners, to the city and to the

world.  As Christ holds his hand above the people, blessing them as they enter the doors of the church, one feels a sense of anticipation for the beauty that lies within.

The cathedral was constructed under the leadership of bishop Eudes de Sully starting in the 12th century. As bishop of Paris he declared that the original structure, St. Steven’s, that stood on the same sight was not fit for a city as great as Paris. With Pope Alexander III present, the first stone was laid in 1163; however, the façade wasn’t constructed until 1190.

Salus Populi Romani

Unknown Artist

Pauline Chapel, Santa Maria Maggiore Rome, Italy

Thick slab of cedar wood

117 X 79 Centimeters

Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, is depicted throughout Christian art. Her presence and religious power is portrayed be depictions of her holding the infant Jesus Christ. The oldest known icon of Madonna and Child is at Santa Maria Maggiore in the Pauline Chapel called “Salus Populi Romani” (Savior of the people of Rome). This 117 by 79 centimeter work has no known author although some believe that St. Luke the Evangelist was the artist. History only dates back to the early 13th century; however, it is much older. Some historians date the piece to the time of the Council of Ephesus in 431 where it was declared that the Mother of Jesus Christ is the Mother of God and that a church should be erected in Rome in honor of Her.

Mary’s gold laced, blue attire and red tunic all symbolize her respectable power and authority with in the church. Different than later Madonna and Child paintings, She gazes out to the spectator while Jesus stares at His Mother.

Hanging in a specially designed reliquary above the alter in the Pauline Chapel, “Salus Populi Romani” has been a highly praised icon in the Catholic faith. Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604) was known to pray devoutly to Mary “Queen of the Apostles” for guidance and wisdom. During the plague that disrupted Rome, according to history, he paraded this icon around the city while droves of people solemnly followed in prayer. The procession ended at Castel Sant’Angelo where it is said that an angel appeared to the gathered masses, St. Michael. Upon his arrival he replaced the statue that had originally stood atop with one of him holding the sword of vengeance.

Madonna dell Granduca (1505)

Oil on wood

84 x 55 cm (33 x 21 1/2 in.)

Palazzo Pitti, Florence

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino ,or more commonly known today as just Raphael, was born in Florence on Good Friday, 1483. As the son of a painter, his life work was destined for nothing less than artistic bliss. Later in his life he traveled all over Italy; however, he always seemed to return home to Florence.

“Madonna dell Granduca” is an 84 by 55 centimeter piece bountiful in beauty but supported by its simplicity as oil on wood painting. A 19th century restoration left the marvelous painting partially different. The blackened background is result of the restorer’s decision to cover Raphael’s original background. Thankfully they did not alter Madonna or Child. As the infant Christ looks out towards the spectator we can quickly be captivated and drawn in. Hanging in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence where droves of visitors annually pass by, this artwork has become a world renowned piece of artwork.