The de Brécy Tondo and it's relationship with Raphael's Sistine Madonna
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RAPHAEL - THE EVIDENCE
AIDE MEMOIRE

Visual Evidence for Raphael

1. The quality of expression, imparting a sense of pathos.

2. The Madonna's typically tender and modest gaze, lost in reverie.

3. The quality of draughtsmanship – e.g. as in the Child's elbow point.

4. The handling of the paint – accords with National Gallery Technical Bulletin
Volume 25, 2004 (Exhibition: 'Raphael – From Urbino to Rome').

5. The quality of the brushwork – as in the Child's hair (cf. hair of Raphael’s
Bindo Altoviti, c1518, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.)

6. Madonna facial type – same as Raphael's La Donna Velata and Madonna with
the Fish More

7. The pentimento in the lower left of the painting proclaims the Tondo is an
original work and not a copy More

Technical Evidence for Raphael

8. Paint analysis by Raman spectroscopy found clear evidence of the yellow (lead
monoxide, PbO) pigment massicot, considered to be in the pre-17th century use by
artists. The analysis also found that the medium has the unusual starch-based
characteristics of a vegetable glue.

9. The blue colouring is from the vegetable-derived dye Turnsole (or similar
indicator dye) – known use only for MSS illumination in the period pre-1600.

10. The paint layers are unusually thin (10 microns), giving a translucence on the lead
white ground that is akin to MSS painting.

11. The above innovative, non-standard materials and technique, are further evidence
of originality – Raphael (like Dürer) was experimenting with extremely thin
painting techniques post c1512, at a time when artists were seeking luminosity in
their works.

12. The x-ray photograph shows pounce-marks exclusively across the knuckles of the
Madonna's right hand, around Her index finger, between her fingers and around
the upper bicep of the Child. This indicates use of an auxiliary cartoon – a
technique peculiar to Raphael. More

13. The x-ray photograph shows considerable re-working to the eyeline of the
Madonna, accentuating the length of Her nose – further evidence of originality.

14. The size of the Tondo (approx. 98 cm diameter) is consistent with the size of
Raphael's known tondos.

Historical Evidence for Raphael

13. Art historians (e.g. Marielene Putscher, Dr Nicholas Penny) have postulated the
existence of a tondo as a likely design component for the construction of the
Sistine Madonna.

14. The Madonna di Foligno, as Raphael's immediately preceding altarpiece, contains
a circular image of the Madonna within the overall picture – evidence of his
interest at that time in tondo images of the Madonna in the construction of
altarpieces.

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