The Sistine Madonna

One of the most famous paintings of all time has its home in Dresden. Like Leonardo's "Mona Lisa" in Paris or Botticelli's "Birth of the Venus" in Florence, Raphael's "Sistine Madonna" was memorized in our cultural memory.

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Seldomly people know that two protagonists of the art work have made a noticeable career of their own – the two little angels sloughing at the bottom edge of the painting.

In the course of the nineteenth century, the marketing machine of the angels started. For the first time in 1803, the little rascals were copied out of the entire content of the painting – that was the start for their solo career. Soon, they were painted on porcelain and used as decorative motifs for jewellery. In the second half of the nineteenth century, they found their ways as emblems into scrapbooks, were hung as stitching pictures on the wall, decorated bed sheets or pyjama bags in their function as guardian angels. Later, usage for a variety of “heavenly joys” of earthen goods followed – such as coffee, chocolate, stamps or hygiene products. Until today, their application as an advertiser is unbroken. A complete list hardly seems impossible.

But – next to the angels, who took on lives of their own – the large altar piece is worth a second glance from an art historical perspective.

Madonna mit dem Jesuskind, am unteren Rand die zwei Engel
© Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Estel/Klut
Raffael, Die Sixtinische Madonna, 1512/13
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