Raphael's Madonna della Seggiola (Sedia), also known as Madonna of the Chair, is one of Raphael's most intimate Madonna paintings. The 1514 image of Raphael's Madonna is bathed in a warm, golden light. Raphael's Madonna engages the viewer directly as she sits closely confined within the circular tondo format affectionately and protectively cuddling her young son, the infant Christ Child. On the right slightly behind the Madonna and Child Raphael depicts the figure of Christ's young cousin, the boy St. John the Baptist. Raphael painted this Madonna while in Rome where it was soon acquired for the art collection of the Medici family. This depiction of Madonna and Child was painted during or shortly after Raphael's work on the Vatican Stanza d'Eliodoro. Raphael's Madonna was taken by Napoleon's troops in 1799, then it was returned to Florence in 1815. It appears that the model is the same one Raphael used for his Donna Velata portrait of 1514. Original: 1514, oil on wood, diameter 71 cm, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence
From Fine Art Touch
From Fine Art Touch
Raphael's Madonna of the Chair is the emblem of the Montessori "Children's Houses."
"Above the blackboards are hung attractive pictures, chosen carefully, representing simple scenes in which children would naturally be interested. Among the pictures in our "Children's House" in Rome we have hung a copy of Raphael's "Madonna della Seggiola", and this picture we have chosen as the emblem of the "Children's Houses". For indeed, these "Children's Houses" represent not only social progress, but universal human progress, and are closely related to the elevation of the idea of motherhood, to the progress of woman and to the protection of her offspring. In this beautiful conception, Raphael has not only shown us the Madonna as a Divine Mother holding in her arms the babe who is greater than she, but by the side of this symbol of all motherhood, he has placed the figure of St. John, who represents humanity. So in Raphael's picture we see humanity rendering homage to maternity,–maternity, the sublime fact in the definite triumph of humanity. In addition to this beautiful symbolism, the picture has a great value as being one of the greatest works of art of Italy's greatest artist. And if the day shall come when the "Children's Houses" shall be established throughout the world, it is our wish that this picture of Raphael's shall have its place in each of the schools, [Page 83] speaking eloquently of the country in which they originated.
The children, of course, cannot comprehend the symbolic significance of the "Madonna of the Chair", but they will see something more beautiful than that which they feel in more ordinary pictures, in which they see mother, father, and children. And the constant companionship with this picture will awaken in their heart a religious impression.
This, then, is the environment which I have selected for the children we wish to educate."
Taken from Chapter IV of The Montessori Method, by Maria Montessori, 1912