Raphael, The Virgin and Child, a drawing

Italy, around AD 1510-12

Cartoon for the 'Mackintosh Madonna'

This drawing is made of black chalk with a few touches of white heightening. The outlines of the figure are pricked and indented to help transfer the design to another surface - either a wall or panel. The artist or his assistant pricked the edges of the design with a sharp instrument and then banged with a bag of charcoal dust over the drawing so that the black dust passed through the holes onto the other surface. The artist then had an outline in black dots which he would join together. In addition, the artist might indent the top drawing so that another line appeared on the other surface. Both techniques have been used on this drawing for transfer of the design to a panel painting.

The figures of the Mother and Child are arranged in a pyramidal composition. This recalls the drawings and paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, which Raphael studied when he was in Florence. The forms in this drawing, however, are fuller and more solid. The laughing face of the Child is very similar to that in another drawing by Raphael, of the head of the Virgin and Child, though reversed. This is also in The British Museum.

The drawing corresponds exactly in composition and scale to a painting, known as the Mackintosh Madonna (National Gallery, London). Unfortunately, the painting has been damaged and heavily restored but this drawing gives us an excellent idea of what the composition originally looked like.

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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)

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


Height: 707.000 mm
Width: 533.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1894-7-21-1



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