Raphael, Studies of the Virgin and Child, a drawing

Italy, around AD 1505-8

This sheet of rapid studies is drawn in pen and ink. The three upper and two central sketches are variations on the theme of the Virgin and Child. The two lowest sketches of a boy may be studies for the child St John the Baptist. The drawings overlap each other, confirming that Raphael did not focus exclusively on one painting or motif at a time. Rather, his ideas for different compositions developed simultaneously. Here we see him changing the poses and gestures in the same sketch with circular lines suggesting energy and movement.

Raphael sketched this sheet when he was in Florence studying the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. The largest sketch at lower left is closely connected to Raphael's painting known as The Bridgewater Madonna (on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh). The motif of the Child twisting back as he sits astride the Virgin's knee is taken from Michelangelo's round marble carving, the Doni Tondo, in the Royal Academy, London. The Child in the higher of the two larger sketches at centre right is related to Raphael's Colonna Madonna (Berlin). The smaller sketches are also linked to known paintings of the Virgin and Child by Raphael. All these paintings are datable to Raphael's later years in Florence (1505 to 1508) or his early years in Rome after 1508.

Find in the collection online

More information


P. Pouncey and J. A. Gere, Italian drawings in the Depa-3 (London, The British Museum Press, 1962)

P. Joannides, The drawings of Raphael (Phaidon, 1983)

N. Turner, Florentine drawings of the six, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)

R. Jones and N. Penny, Raphael (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1983)

F. Ames-Lewis, The draftsman Raphael (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1986)

J.A Gere and N. Turner, Drawings by Raphael, from the, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)


Height: 253.000 mm
Width: 183.000 mm

Museum number

PD Ff.1-36



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore