The Sistine Madonna in Dresden and Moscow

Lyudmila Markina

Article: 
Victory: 75
Magazine issue: 
#1 2020 (66)

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483-1520), that genius of the Renaissance whom the world knows as Raphael, with exhibitions planned around the world, from the artist’s birthplace Urbino to Rome, where he died aged only 37 on April 6 1520. Known in his lifetime as the “master of the Madonnas”, his masterpiece the Sistine Madonna found its way in the 18th century to Dresden, where its “second life” began. Badly damaged during World War II, it was restored in Moscow in 1945-1955, “reborn” yet again, before its return to its German home following a landmark exhibition at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in 1955. In such a way, the picture has been linked historically to both Germany and Russia, and the emotional impact of Raphael’s work has brought together artists and writers from both nations.

RAPHAEL (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino). The Sistine Madonna. 1512–1513
RAPHAEL (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino). The Sistine Madonna. 1512-1513
Oil on canvas. 269.5 × 201 cm. © Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden

Raphael’s image of the Madonna, one of the most recognizable in the world, was originally created on the commission of Pope Julius II in 1512-1513 for the altar of the church of the Benedictine monastery of St. Sixtus in Piacenza near Milan. According to the eminent Giorgio Vasari in his “The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects", the canvas, which came to be known as the “Sistine Madonna", was the pinnacle of the master's work, combining the divine and the earthly into a single beautiful whole. For almost 250 years the work remained virtually unknown, until it was acquired by Frederick Augustus III, Elector of Saxony (1696-1763), for the significant sum of 25,000 gold escudos. In February 1754, the canvas was delivered to Dresden and placed in the ruler's chambers. In the first “Inventory of the Royal Art Gallery of Dresden", compiled by Matthias Osterreich at that time, article 31 reads: “Raphael from Urbino. The Mother of God among the clouds with the baby Jesus, in front of her Pope Sixtus and St. Barbara, kneeling in full figure on the canvas."[1]

In 1711, the construction of the Zwinger Palace designed by Matthaus Daniel Poppelmann was launched. The art gallery was given the reconstructed building of the former stables in Judenhof (the Jewish Court),[2] and a surviving engraving shows how the Sistine Madonna was displayed there at the beginning of the 19th century. [3] From 1817, the work was hung very close to other framed paintings and did not strike the viewer immediately. According to Vasily Zhukovsky, the picture was simply “lost",[4] with no divans or chairs before the canvas. There were metal racks along the walls which protected the works, which could be leant on if the viewer so wished. A curious detail was noted by the Russian sculptor Samuil Galberg, who visited the Dresden Gallery in August 1818: “There are stairs on wheels that can be moved as wished, and they can be climbed on."[5] He especially emphasized how easy it was to view the Dresden painting collection. “The gallery," Galberg wrote, “does not serve as decoration for the palace rooms, the King has given it over to the public."[6] Entrance was free, and it was possible to visit “in the morning from nine to one o'clock, and in the afternoon from three to six. For 16 pfennigs the visitor receives a catalogue - and then you are on your own to admire it! There are no unnecessary decorations, therefore, it is not necessary that any blockhead be pushed behind."[7]

Galberg and his five companions, fellow graduates of the Imperial Academy of Arts, were the first artists sent by that body to Italy after the Napoleonic Wars. They came to Dresden from Berlin, their main goal there being to view the art gallery and the Sistine Madonna especially. The Hermitage did not have then (nor does it now) any original work by Raphael from the artist's Roman period, that highpoint in his activity which began in 1508. Since the time of Catherine II, the Hermitage had two early works by the painter from the Crozat collection[8] - “The Holy Family. Madonna with Beardless St. Joseph" (1506) and “St. George and the Dragon" (1504-1506, sold by the Soviet regime in 1931, now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington).[9]

The Russian visitors spent only five days in the capital of Saxony, but left a whole day to view the art gallery. Galberg was the only one to leave an enthusiastic remark on the Sistine Madonna: “Here I first saw Raphael, as the greatest of painters. His Most Holy Virgin, called the Madonna di San Sisto, is truly the Holy Virgin: the greatness of heaven shines in her; the face of the Saviour seems to show His high purpose. The cherubs below are innocent, like children of eternal light: and they deserve to be celestial beings."[10]

Such a reaction to the Sistine Madonna was characteristic of the romantics of the beginning of the 19th century, who were discovering the Renaissance for themselves - and for the whole world. In 1820, for the first time, the 300th anniversary of the death of Raphael was widely celebrated, with a special exhibition organized at the Berlin Academy. From that time onwards the fame of the picture became truly international, bringing visitors on pilgrimage to see the Sistine Madonna. Russi ans in their multitudes duly left behind their impressions from their visits to the Dresden gallery: the historian Nikolai Karamzin and the future Decembrist Wilhelm Kuchelbecker, the sculptor Nikolai Ramazanov and art critic Vasily Belinsky, as well as the revolutionary democrat Alexander Herzen. In the 1824 issue of the almanac “Polar Star", Zhukovsky published a well- known article of romantic prose, which had a significant impact on subsequent generations of Russian romantics, including Nikolai Polevoy, Alexei Timofeev and Vladimir Odoevsky.[11]

 

The copyists

As the fame of the Sistine Madonna grew, the need for copying the work increased. This was obviously not a question of deceiving potential buyers: no picturesque copy of the Raphael Madonna could in any way replace the original, but would have considerable value as a rare reproduction in its own right. Demand generated supply: both monarchs and private individuals were keen to own a copy of this most popular of Raphael's works. Moreover, at the beginning of the 19th century the works of the Dresden Art Gallery were very accessible for copying. With some envy, Galberg noted that “any artist can, with the permission of the inspector, go there [to the gallery - L.M.], take a picture from the wall and make a copy of it right there on the spot. We saw a great number here doing just that; but one young lass who copied Titian seemed to be the best of all: to the shame of the men."[12] German sources recorded that the Sistine Madonna was more often on an easel for its numerous copyists than it could be seen on the wall.[13]

Throughout the 19th century, any academic art training of necessity included copying the great masterpieces of Renaissance and Baroque art. Copies made directly from the original allowed the painter to study the method of work of another artist, to master various approaches to composition, to the location of the figure in space, and to conveying colour.

However, “Raphael has the most material manifestation, the very methods of his brush, as, for example, in the Sistine Madonna, seem to be spiritualized," the sculptor Nikolai Ramazanov warned young artists. “This proves that some external, albeit dexterous techniques in art were not enough, that a bold, extensive flight of fantasy is not enough, without the artist's ability to feel deeply and in all purity to understand all this sublimity of beauty."[14]

The earliest known painting copy of the Sistine Madonna was made in 1804 by the German artist Johann Friedrich Bury (1783-1823), a student of Johann Friedrich August Tischbein. After graduating from the Academy in Dusseldorf, Bury travelled to Italy for further study: during his stay in Rome, the young artist repeatedly copied works by Raphael and Michelangelo, “having good practice" in the process. In 1801, the artist was invited by the King of Prussia to the court in Berlin, where he gave drawing lessons to the king's sister, as well as to Princess Augusta, who would marry Wilhelm II, the Elector of Hesse. Bury himself depicted the princess making a copy of the Sistine Madonna: she sits at the easel with brushes and a palette in her hands, turning towards an unseen viewer. The artist consciously builds the composition so that the head of the amateur artist obscures the face of the Madonna and fits next to the baby.[15]

On the commission of Prussia's Queen Louise, Bury himself produced a full-scale copy of the Sistine Madonna in 1804, which she gave to her husband Frederick William III (the work's current location is unknown). On his orders, the canvas was assigned to the pink corner room of the Berlin Palace, where this version of the Sistine Madonna hung over his desk. A watercolour by Leopold Zielke, a professor of Berlin's Kunstakademie, representing the king's study (1828, Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation, Berlin-Brandenburg), shows clearly the arrangement of the room, with the copy to the left of the door by a large window. As the king sat at his desk, the image of the Madonna was before him at all times.

It is interesting to compare that work with the watercolour “The Study-library of Empress Elizabeth Alex- eievna in the Winter Palace" by Varvara Golovina, a maid of honour to the Empress who was an amateur artist (the work is now in the Hermitage). During the reign of Alexander I, the west wing of the building, overlooking the Admiralty, became the residential quarters of the Winter Palace. Elizabeth's study and library, its windows overlooking the Neva, was located in what is now Hall 186 of the building. Golovina scrupulously captured the details of the interior, its sculpture, furniture,[16] vases and candelabra, with a special verisimilitude given by the figure of the Empress reading a book at the table to the right. The large copy of the Sistine Madonna hanging in the centre of the end wall between the mirrors draws the attention. Elizabeth is placed so that, when she broke off from reading, she would see the Madonna in front of her. (Unfortunately the identity of the artist who created this Raphael copy remains unknown, as does the story of how it reached the Winter Palace.)

Varvara GOLOVINA. The Study-library of Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna in the Winter Palace. 1810–1826
Varvara GOLOVINA. The Study-library of Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna in the Winter Palace. 1810-1826
Watercolour on paper. 29.8 × 41 cm. © Hermitage, St. Petersburg, 2020

Over a period of seven years, Gerhard von Kugel- gen, the court portrait painter who was a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts, made a copy of the Sistine Madonna, which was consecrated to decorate the altar of the cathedral of Frombork.[17] Currently, only a fragmented copy, from 1816, by the master survives (it is in the Potsdam collection).[18]

In 1822, Ernst Bosse (1780-1863), the “native of Riga", was dispatched to Dresden by the Cabinet of the Imperial Court. The artist enrolled in 1814 at the Dresden Academy of Arts with the portrait painter Josef Grassi, whom he followed to Rome in 1816 to continue his study until 1820; on Bosse's return to Russia, he received the post of court painter in St. Petersburg in 1821. By order of Emperor Alexander I, Bosse was to make copies of the masterpieces of the Dresden Gallery for the Academy of Arts, “for the benefit of the pupils". Arriving in Dresden, Bosse and his family settled in a house on Altmarkt Square, where his studio was often visited by German romantic artists such as Caspar David Friedrich and Carl Gustav Carus, as well as Russian writers including Vasily Zhukovsky and the Turgenev brothers, Ivan, Nikolai and Sergei. In the winter of 1827, Bosse painted a full- length portrait of Zhukovsky in a number of sittings. Over the course of eight years, Bosse sent 15 copies back to Russia, including the “large-sized Virgin and Child from Raphael".[19] However, the Academy Council ruled that only his “copy of ‘Ecce homo' (from Guido Reni)[20] could be considered good; the rest are mediocre, and the last five are very weak." Bosse was dismissed as a court painter, retaining only the title of professor. In 1829, the painter moved to Paris, where he worked on behalf of the Russian government.[21]

Another artist, Alexei Markov, proved more successful. On December 2 1830, the Council of the Academy decided “to send Alexei Markov, pensioner of the Imperial Academy of Arts and artist of the 14th class, who has received the large Gold Medal, to Dresden for the improvement of his historical painting".[22] However, Markov's main purpose was to make a life-size copy of the Sistine Madonna. The artist arrived in the capital of Saxony in the spring of 1831, but ran into unexpected difficulties. As the Russian envoy Andrei Schroeder reported to St. Petersburg in a letter dated March 27 (April 8): “On the occasion of the reconstruction of the art gallery here, no one can be admitted to it at the moment."[23] After a considerable delay, Markov was nevertheless able to make his copy, not without a whole series of unforeseen difficulties. Quoting Markov himself, Nikolai Ramazanov wrote: “When the artist put his tracing paper to the face of the Madonna, in order to draw it, for all his experience he could not find its outlines with his pencil; involuntarily you believe that this picture is a copy of some Divine vision! Yes, the paper, transparent as pure glass though it was, did not allow the experienced hand of the draftsman to trace the contours in the face of the Madonna. This struck the artist a great deal and showed more than enough the full difficulty involved in taking a close copy from such an extraordinary work."[24]

The young artist worked for more than a year, creating his copy in direct proximity to the original. Overall Markov managed to convey the general impression of one of the most mysterious images in the history of art.

In addition to its size and compositional details, the work also comes close to the visual impact made by Raphael's masterpiece. Markov's copy was completed in 1832, earning high praise from the strict Academy professors who were evaluating it.[25] According to the Academic Council, Markov “studied Raphael with very commendable attention, especially in those elements that comprise the main merit of this great master, and made his copy with care, his commendable work duly accorded gratitude"; the work was acquired from the artist for the Academy's Museum for 857 rubles.[26]

Another figure who set himself to match Raphael's genius was the young Alexander Ivanov, soon to prove himself a genius of Russian painting. “Here [in Dresden - L.M.] for the first time I was touched greatly by Raphael's graceful brush," he wrote to his father on September 13 1830. “I exerted all my efforts to make a sketch of this perfection, recognizing in the process just what it means to make a copy from Raphael, and my drawing is nothing but a monument of my weakness when set against this great creation."[27] In his copy, made with a soft pencil in the manner of academic studies from nature, Ivanov captured a fragment of the painting, the head of Mary and the baby (it is today in the Russian Museum). The artist caught the spiritual beauty of Raphael's images. At the same time, the face of his Madonna is that of a Russian woman. This copy of the Sistine Madonna, which remained unfinished, always hung in Ivanov's studio in Rome, “as a reminder of the heights that he himself had to attain".[28]

 

A picture in a picture

Raphael’s painting achieved real renown thanks to graphic reproductions, at first etchings and lithographs, later photographs. The Imperial Academy of Arts and the Moscow School of Painting and Sculpture widely practiced the use of engravings, including from Raphael's Sistine Madonna, as part of the process of study. The German artists Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Muller (17821816) and Christian Gottfried Schultze (1749-1819) were two of the most famous figures who made engravings of Raphael's original. Over time, Raphael's work began to appear as illustrations in almanacs and books, thus becoming accessible to the general public. One of the first postcards with the image of the Sistine Madonna, engraved by William Thomas Fry (1789-1843) in London in 1825, survives, the inscription on its reverse reading: “Forget me not: A Christmas and New Year's present".

From the mid-19th century onwards, it became fashionable to decorate the interiors of private homes with reproductions of Raphael's paintings, with numerous images of the Madonna appearing in salons and drawing rooms, studies and studios. Illustration of this tendency can be found in works by Russian and foreign artists of the time such as Nikolai Podklyuchnikov's “Interior of the Apartment of Alexei Filamofitsky in Moscow" (after 1835, the Museum of Vasily Tropinin and His Moscow Contemporaries), Pavel Fedotov's “An Artist Who Married without Dowry in the Hope of His Talent" (1844, sepia, Tretyakov Gallery), Moritz Hoffmann's “Wilhelm Grimm's Study in Berlin" (1860, Nuremberg, German National Museum), Jules Mayblum's “The Smoking-room in the Stroganov Palace, St. Petersburg" (1860s, Hermitage), Albert Brendel's “View of the Artist's Apartment" (1884, private collection) and Sergei Vinogradov's “In a House" (1910, Kaluga Museum of Fine Arts).

One of the first daguerreotypes of the Sistine Madonna, and a unique work in its own right, was created by the Saxon photographer Hermann Krone in 1850 (now held in the Technische Universitat, Dresden). It was miniature in size (11 by 8 cm), and is actually a mirror image (in the original, the Madonna holds Christ to her right, in Krone's image, to her left). Early photographs, still of poor quality, had been interesting more for their pictorial method rather than artistic vision, but only a decade after the appearance of photography in 1839, they became more widely available and were even sold in the galleries of the Old Masters.

One such example is a yellowed print preserved in the album of the artist Andrei Popov, a native of Tula.[29] In 1863, on his way to study in Paris, Popov stopped in Dresden, where he recorded the impression that the Sistine Madonna made on him: “Looking at her, a whole range of great artistic merits appeared before me."[30] In memory of his visit, Popov bought a photograph of his favourite masterpiece. The Literary Museum in Moscow preserves several photographs of Raphael's painting acquired by Anna Dostoevskaya, wife of the writer, during their stay in Dresden: it is known that Fyodor Dostoevsky dreamed of finding a good reproduction of the work.

 

Tolstoy or Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky first visited Dresden on a journey from Berlin on June 22 1862, and in the years that followed he would stop there briefly on a number of occasions, on his way either to Vienna or to St. Petersburg. Then, in the summer of 1867, the writer lived in the Saxon capital for several months with his young wife, Anna, and it was there, on September 26 1869, that their eldest daughter Lyuba was born. The outbreak of war between Germany and France forced the family to leave Dresden on July 17 1871. According to Anna's memoirs, Dostoevsky was an admirer of the Sistine Madonna, at which he could look “for hours, touched and moved"[31] For this, he did not hesitate to climb on the chair that was in the hall so that he might be closer to the Madonna's face, of which he wrote: “What beauty, innocence and sadness in that heavenly countenance, what humility and suffering in those eyes. Among the ancient Greeks the powers of the divine were expressed in the marvellous Venus de Milo; the Italians, however, brought forth the true Mother of God - the Sistine Madonna."

The most famous reference to the Madonna in Dostoevsky's work appears in his novel “Demons", where Raphael's canvas embodies the image of beauty and the spiritual ideal of the older generation of the characters in the novel. The writer caught with sensitivity that period when this romantic image was beginning to be ridiculed, to be cynically reviled by the younger generation. It is the subject of a conversation in the second part of the novel when Varvara Petrovna Stavrogina addresses Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky: “Nowadays, nobody, nobody really adores the Madonna and expends their time on her, except for the inveterate and old. It has been proven."[32]

Dostoevsky admitted the great importance for him of the Sistine Madonna in a conversation with Sophia Tolstaya,[33] widow of the poet and dramatist Alexei Tolstoy. In 1879, two years before his death, the philosopher Vladimir Solovyov, who was a close friend of the writer, brought him a package from the Countess which contained a three-quarter-length image depicting the Madonna with the child Christ, without any other figures. The photograph was a gift on the writer's birthday and would adorn his St. Petersburg study. In the last year of his life, this beloved Madonna hung over the sofa on which Dostoevsky loved to rest and on which he died: a photograph by Vladimir Taube, commissioned by Dostoevsky's widow, shows the image, Tolstaya's gift, hanging there.

That better-known member of the Tolstoy family, Leo, first visited Dresden on August 5 1857, arriving from Berlin. He left the very next day, having managed to visit the art gallery where he “remained cold to everything except the Madonna", as he wrote in his diary. Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, it should be noted, saw the Sistine Madonna in its new location, in the art gallery designed by the architect Gottfried Semper, the Neues Konigliches Museum (New Royal Museum) which had opened in September 1855. Understanding the historical significance of Raphael's work, the curators had given it a central position in the display.

Leo Tolstoy came to Dresden for the second time four years later, in the spring 1861, staying there April 1821. At the time he was concerned with educational matters, particularly interested in adult education in Saxony, and there is no mention of the Madonna at that time. But Tolstoy's opinion of the work in the final period of his life is known from the notes of his disciple, Sergei Bulgakov: “regarding the Madonna, I had another conversation with L. Tolstoy at our last meeting in Gaspra [a resort on the Black Sea in Crimea] in 1902, when he was recovering from a dangerous illness. I had the imprudence in the course of our conversation to express my feelings for the Sistine [Madonna], and this one single mention was enough to bring on an attack of suffocating, blasphemous anger."[34]

The study of the Leo Tolstoy House-Museum “Yasnaya Polyana”
The study of the Leo Tolstoy House-Museum “Yasnaya Polyana”
Modern photograph

It is strange, given the vehemence of Tolstoy's rejection of the figure of the Madonna, that an image of her nevertheless hung in the writer's study, although the extreme changeability of his opinions is well known. One explanation for this was given by his third son, Ilya, in his reminiscences: “Both here, at Yasnaya Polyana, and in St. Petersburg, in the home of Dostoevsky, hung these old lithographs of Raphael's Sistine Madonna. They had been presented to both writers by the same individual - Alexandra Andreievna Tolstoya, the [great-]aunt of Lev Nikolaievich. She gave one to Tolstoy in his youth, another to Dostoevsky, it seems, shortly before his death. Yet these two writers never met one another."[35] Ilya Tolstoy is mistaken here, however: the image in Dostoevsky's possession was presented to him by Sophia Andreievna Tolstaya, the wife of Alexei Konstantinovich Tolstoy, a second cousin of Leo Tolstoy, while that in Leo Tolstoy's study was the gift of the writer's favourite elder relation (by blood), Alexandra Andreievna Tolstaya. Furthermore, although both engravings depict Raphael's Madonna, they are not identical images.

 

The Madonna in Soviet times

I start with early childhood memories. I was four years old, and cut-out pictures from “Ogonyok" (Little Light) magazine were pinned up above my bed, their colour adding a hint of beauty to the surroundings. I stared at one with a beautiful mother and a child, admiring the beautiful faces; I wondered why there was not even a hint of a smile on them, rather such an immense sadness. That was how this great picture entered my life: its meaning of a sacrificial, motherly love has become ever clearer to me as the years have passed.

I understand now that the publication of the magazine's reproductions of paintings from the Dresden Gallery was associated with the exhibition that opened in the summer of 1955, running from May 2 to August 20 at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. After standing in a huge queue, tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens came to see and say farewell to Raphael's work. Brought to the Soviet Union in 1945 together with other such “trophy" masterpieces, the Sistine Madonna, after its restoration in Moscow, was returning to Dresden. A huge role in the “renascence" of Raphael's masterpiece had been played by the artist and restorer Pavel Korin, who had first seen the work in 1935, when he was travelling with his brother Alexander to study in Italy. As in pre-revolutionary times, the path of such young artists lay through Dresden. A quick sketch of the picture survives in one of Pavel Korin's small notebooks: at that time the Korin brothers could not even begin to imagine under what dramatic circumstances they would next encounter the Sistine Madonna.

Pavel Korin and Praskovya Korina in front of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow. Group photograph, 1945-1946
Pavel Korin and Praskovya Korina in front of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna.
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow. Group photograph, 1945-1946

The 1955 exhibition returned the image of the Sistine Madonna to Soviet culture. Writers and journalists such as Vasily Grossman[36] and Leonid Volynsky associated the work with their own personal fate as well as with that of a whole people. Their writings would inspire Soviet filmmakers to make films,[37] and painters to create works in the style of Socialist Realism, dedicated to the salvation of the masterpiece. Painted in 1959, Yuly Yatchenko's “With a Dream of Peace. The Salvation of the Masterpieces of the Dresden Gallery in 1945" depicts the first encounter between Soviet soldiers and Raphael's picture.[38] Throwing back the curtain canopy, one of them shines a flashlight on the face of the Madonna. Another kneels, virtually in the pose of the prodigal son from Rembrandt's painting, also “illuminating" the surface of the canvas. The “phenomenon of the Madonna" makes each react in his own way. The artist outlines only their faces, but the figures and poses of the figures depicted are well designed Vladimir Daychman's extremely expressive etching “The Sistine Madonna" from 1967 is created in the spirit of the “Severe Style".[39] The vertical format of the sheet emphasizes the narrow space of the bunker, which stores the canvases in appalling neglect. The steps of the dusty staircase lead upwards, and in the open door a Red Army soldier stands with a machine gun. Rays of sunlight seem to “snatch" the face of the Madonna and child out of the darkness. The dynamism of the scene is conveyed by the turn of the soldier's figure, the contrast of the bright light pouring in from the street and the darkness of the interior space, and the special character of the hatching.

Mikhail Volodin uses the cinematic technique of a stopped frame in his painting “Saving the Paintings of the Dresden Gallery" (1972-1978, Central Museum of the Armed Forces, Moscow): the soldiers carrying a canvas in their hands are coming directly towards the viewer, literally saving the picture before our eyes. By contrast, the artist Mikhail Kornetsky chooses the moment when a young woman restorer, very much like a nurse in her white coat, gazes intently at the canvas through a magnifying glass, the rescuers of the picture standing in a guard of honour to right and left.[40]

Mai Dantsig's monumental painting - 3.75 by 7 meters in size - “And the Saved World Remembers" (1985, Art Russe Foundation) was inspired by the moment when the Sistine Madonna was found by Soviet troops: it is distinguished by its expressive pictorial manner and philosophical interpretation of the historical event. The Belarusian artist worked on the painting for more than a decade, completing it in the year of the 40th anniversary of Victory, 1985. The title of the picture, taken from a popular song, transfers the emphasis from the saved Madonna to the saved world itself.

The fate of the Sistine Madonna was connected in a special way with that of Irina Antonova, who was for more than half a century director of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (she is now its honorary president). In August 1945, Antonova was among those who took the collection of the Dresden Gallery into storage at the Moscow museum. In one interview, she has described the work with enormous power: “The war - and these are not empty words - deeply affected the lives and hearts of my generation. For me, a specialist in Italian art, the Sistine Madonna will never be just a masterpiece of Raphael. This picture is forever linked in my consciousness and in my memory with the heroic salvation of my country and my people from destruction, linked with the heroic act of that mother who sacrificed the life of her son."

 

  1. Matthias Oesterreich, Inventarium von der Konigli- chen Bildergalerie zu Dresden, gefertiget Mens Zulij & August 1754, fol. 5 Nr. 31//Die Sixtinische Madonna- Raffaels Kultbild wird 500. Munchen, 2012. P. 229.
  2. Realized by the architect Gottfried Semper (1803-1879).
  3. Unknown artist. First half of the 19th century. “Interior of the Dresden Gallery in the Former Stable Yard”. 1830. Paper. 19.8 * 25 cm. Dresden State Art Collections.
  4. In April 1821, Vasily Zhukovsky first arrived in “lovely Dresden”, where he visited the art gallery six times.
  5. “The Sculptor Samuil Ivanovich Galberg in His Letters and Notes from Abroad. 1818-1828”. Collected by V.F. Evald.//Bulletin of Fine Arts. Appendix to the 2nd volume. Issue 1-3. St. Petersburg, 1884. P. 29. Hereinafter - Galberg.
  6. Ibid. P. 28.
  7. Ibid. P. 29.
  8. In 1772 the Hermitage acquired the picture gallery of Antoine Crozat, Baron de Thiers, who had died two years earlier, the nucleus of which had been collected by his uncle, Pierre Crozat, a banker and connoisseur closely linked to the art world.
  9. In 1836, Emperor Nicholas I acquired the “Madonna Alba”, which was also sold by the Soviet regime in 1931. Emperor Alexander II bought the “Conestabile Madonna” (1502-1504) in 1871 for the private quarters of Empress Maria Alexandrovna.
  10. Galberg. P. 31
  11. Zhukovsky, V.A. ‘Raphael’s “Madonna”. From letters about the Dresden Gallery’// “Vasily Zhukovsky. Aesthetics and Criticism”.
  12. Galberg. P. 29.
  13. Die Sixtinische Madonna - Raffaels Kultbild wird 500. Munchen, 2012. P. 250.
  14. Ramazanov, N.A. ‘Materials for the History of Art in Russia’//“Articles and Memoirs”. Compiled and edited, with introduction and notes, N.S. Belyaev.
  15. St. Petersburg, 2014. P. 377. Hereinafter - Ramazanov.
  16. Johann Friedrich Bury. “Princess Augustus Copies the ‘Sistine Madonna’”. 1808/1809. Oil on canvas.
  17. 90.5 * 71.5 cm. Hessian State Museum, Kassel.
  18. Semenova, T.B. ‘Two tables, the work of Heinrich Gams, from the chambers of Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna in the Winter Palace’//“Renaissance Star”. No. 28-29. 2019. Pp. 39-41.
  19. Frombork is a city on the shores of the Vistula Gulf of the Baltic Sea, East Prussia (now Poland). Its cathedral, together with the painting, burned to the ground in April 1945.
  20. Kugelgen, Gerhard von. Madonna und Kind. Teilkopie der Sixtinische Madonna. 1816. Oil on canvas. 101 * 81 cm. Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation, Berlin-Brandenburg.
  21. The current location of this copy is unknown.
  22. The Reni copy is in the Academic Museum of the Academy of Arts. A copy of Correggio’s “Nativity (The Holy Night)” is in the Kovalenko Art Museum of Krasnodar.
  23. Archive of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire. Hereinafter - Foreign Policy. St. Petersburg, Main archive II-10. File 84. 1831. Unit 5. Sheet.3.
  24. Foreign Policy. Unit 14. Sheet 2.
  25. Foreign Policy. Unit 14. Sheet 4, reverse.
  26. Ramazanov. P. 377.
  27. Alexei Markov. “Madonna with SS. Sixtus and Barbara”. 1832. Oil on canvas. 272 x 200 cm. Acquired in 1833 from the artist. Academic Museum of the Academy of Arts.
  28. “The Canon of Beauty according to Raphael. The Era of Raphael and the Russian Art School”. Exhibition catalogue. St. Petersburg, 2008, P. 28.
  29. “Alexander Ivanov in Letters, Documents and Memoirs”. Compiled by I.A. Vinogradov. Moscow, 2001. P. 50.
  30. Alpatov, M.I. “Alexander Ivanov. His Life and Work”. Vol. 1. P. 48.
  31. Markina, L.A. ‘The Graphic Album of A.A. Popova’// "Tretyakov Readings 2019”. Moscow, 2019.
  32. Russian State Historical Archive. Fund 789. Op. 14. Unit 70 “P”. Sheet 11.
  33. Dostoevskaya, A.G. “Memoirs”. Moscow, 1987. Pp. 148-149.
  34. Dostoevsky, F.M. “Demons”. “Collected Works”. Vol. 10.
  35. Sophia Andreievna Tolstaya (1827-1895), nee Bakhmeteva, by her first marriage Miller, was the wife of the poet, prose writer and dramatist Alexei Konstantinovich Tolstoy.
  36. Bulgakov, S.N. ‘Two Meetings (From the notebook)’// “Sergei Bulgakov. Quiet Thoughts”. Moscow, 1996. P. 393.
  37. Tolstoy, Ilya. “The Light of Yasnaya Polyana”. Tula, 2014. P. 59.
  38. In his 1955 essay “The Sistine Madonna”, unpublished in the writer’s lifetime, Grossman described his impressions on seeing the picture at the Moscow exhibition. “Seeing the Sistine Madonna go on her way,” Grossman’s memorable final sentence reads, “we preserve our faith that life and freedom are one, that there is nothing higher than what is human in man”.
  39. The most notable film was “Five Days, Five Nights” by the directors Leo Arnshtam and Heinz Thiel, a 1960 coproduction between the USSR and East Germany, which credited Leonid Volynsky’s work as one of its sources.
  40. Yuly Yatchenko. “With a Dream of Peace. The Salvation of the Masterpieces of the Dresden Gallery in 1945”. 1959. Oil on canvas. Location unknown.
  41. Vladimir Daychman. “The Sistine Madonna”. 1967. Etching, aquatint, dry needle on paper. 82 * 50 cm. The Museum of Fine Art of the Republic of Tatarstan.
  42. Mikhail Kornetsky. “Rescued Madonna”. 1984-1985. Oil on canvas. Latvian National Museum, Riga.

Illustrations

RAPHAEL (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino). The Sistine Madonna. 1512–1513. Detail
RAPHAEL (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino). The Sistine Madonna. 1512-1513
Detail
RAPHAEL (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino). The Sistine Madonna. 1512–1513. Detail: Cherubs
RAPHAEL (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino). The Sistine Madonna. 1512-1513
Detail: Cherubs
RAPHAEL (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino). The Sistine Madonna. 1512–1513. Detail: St. Barbara
RAPHAEL (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino). The Sistine Madonna. 1512-1513
Detail: St. Barbara
Johann Friedrich Wilhelm MÜLLER. The Sistine Madonna
Johann Friedrich Wilhelm MÜLLER. The Sistine Madonna
Drypoint engraving. 88.3 × 67.3 cm
© Kupferstich-Kabinett, Dresden
Cherub. Lithograph from Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. Mid-19th century. Detail
Cherub
Lithograph from Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. Mid-19th century. Paper
© Leo Tolstoy Museum-Estate “Yasnaya Polyana”
Detail
Madonna with Child. Lithograph from Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. Mid-19th century. Detail
Madonna with Child. Lithograph from Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. Mid-19th century
Paper
© Leo Tolstoy Museum-Estate “Yasnaya Polyana”
Detail
Gerhard von KÜGELGEN. Madonna and Child. 1916. Detail of “The Sistine Madonna”, copy
Gerhard von KÜGELGEN. Madonna and Child. 1916
Detail of “The Sistine Madonna”, copy. Oil on canvas. 101 × 81 cm
© Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation, Berlin-Brandenburg
Varvara GOLOVINA. The Study-library of Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna in the Winter Palace. 1810–1826. Detail
Varvara GOLOVINA. The Study-library of Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna in the Winter Palace. 1810-1826
Watercolour on paper. Detail
Unknown artist. Inside the Gallery Building in the former Stable Yard. 1830
Unknown artist. Inside the Gallery Building in the former Stable Yard. 1830
Aquatint on yellow paper. 19.8 × 25 cm
© Dresden State Art Collections
Gerhard von Kügelgen’s studio in Dresden
Gerhard von Kügelgen’s studio in Dresden
Modern photograph
Ferdinand ZAPF. The Sistine Madonna. 1830-1850s
Ferdinand ZAPF. The Sistine Madonna. 1830-1850s
Porcelain, muffle paints, painting. 42.2 × 34.2 cm
Private collection, Moscow
Ferdinand ZAPF. The Sistine Madonna. 1830-1850s
Ferdinand ZAPF. The Sistine Madonna. 1830-1850s
View in frame
Hermann KRONE. The Sistine Madonna. 1850
Hermann KRONE. The Sistine Madonna. 1850
(Centre image) Daguerreotype. 11 × 8 cm. Signed with white chalk on the passepartout under the daguerreotype: “First Photogr. of the Sistine Madonna. 1850.”
© Hermann Krone Collection, Technische Universität, Dresden
Pavel FEDOTOV. An Artist Who Married without Dowry in the Hope of His Talent. 1844
Pavel FEDOTOV. An Artist Who Married without Dowry in the Hope of His Talent. 1844
Sepia, brush, feather on paper mounted on cardboard. 31.3 × 45.6 cm
© Tretyakov Gallery
Pavel FEDOTOV. An Artist Who Married without Dowry in the Hope of His Talent. 1844. Detail
Pavel FEDOTOV. An Artist Who Married without Dowry in the Hope of His Talent. 1844
Detail
The album of Andrei Popov. 1863–1867. Sheet 16
The album of Andrei Popov. 1863-1867
Sheet 16. Photographic paper, photograph
© Tretyakov Gallery
First publication
Sergei VINOGRADOV. In a House. 1910
Sergei VINOGRADOV. In a House. 1910
Oil on canvas. 87 × 70 cm
© Kaluga Museum of Fine Arts
Jules MAYBLUM. The Smoking-room of the Stroganov Palace, St. Petersburg. 1863–1865
Jules MAYBLUM. The Smoking-room of the Stroganov Palace, St. Petersburg. 1863-1865
Watercolour on paper. 40 × 59 cm
© Hermitage, St. Petersburg, 2020
Nikolai PODKLYUCHNIKOV. Interior of the Apartment of Alexei Filamofitsky on Antipievsky Lane (?) near Volkhonka Street in Moscow. After 1835
Nikolai PODKLYUCHNIKOV. Interior of the Apartment of Alexei Filamofitsky on Antipievsky Lane (?) near Volkhonka Street in Moscow. After 1835
Oil on canvas. 76.2 × 92.8 cm
© Museum of Vasily Tropinin and His Moscow Contemporaries
Nikolai PODKLYUCHNIKOV. Interior of the Apartment of Alexei Filamofitsky on Antipievsky Lane (?) near Volkhonka Street in Moscow. After 1835. Detail
Nikolai PODKLYUCHNIKOV. Interior of the Apartment of Alexei Filamofitsky on Antipievsky Lane (?) near Volkhonka Street in Moscow. After 1835
Detail
The dining-room of the Viktor Vasnetsov House-Museum, Moscow
The dining-room of the Viktor Vasnetsov House-Museum, Moscow
Modern photograph
The study of the Fyodor Dostoevsky House-Museum, St. Petersburg. End of the 19th century (left) and modern photograph (right)
Left: The study of the Fyodor Dostoevsky House-Museum, St. Petersburg. End of the 19th century
Photograph by Vladimir Taube commissioned by Anna Dostoevskaya
Right: The study of the Fyodor Dostoevsky House-Museum, St. Petersburg.
Modern photograph
The study of the Fyodor Dostoevsky House-Museum, St. Petersburg
The study of the Fyodor Dostoevsky House-Museum, St. Petersburg.
Modern photograph
The study of the Leo Tolstoy House-Museum “Yasnaya Polyana”
The study of the Leo Tolstoy House-Museum “Yasnaya Polyana”
Modern photograph
Raphael’s Sistine Madonna displayed in the Old Masters Gallery after its return to Dresden. Photograph, 1950s
Raphael’s Sistine Madonna displayed in the Old Masters Gallery after its return to Dresden. Photograph, 1950s
Pavel Korin in front of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Photograph, 1956
Pavel Korin in front of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Photograph, 1956
Pavel KORIN. The Sistine Madonna. 1945–1955
Pavel KORIN. The Sistine Madonna. 1945-1955
Copy from Raphael’s painting. Tempera on paper. 23 × 17 cm
© Tretyakov Gallery
Mai DANTSIG “And the Saved World Remembers”. 1985
Mai DANTSIG “And the Saved World Remembers”. 1985
Oil on canvas. 375 × 700 cm. Art Russe Foundation
Mai DANTSIG “And the Saved World Remembers”. 1967
Vladimir DAYCHMAN. The Sistine Madonna. 1967
Etching, aquatint, dry needle on paper. 82 × 50 cm
© The Museum of Fine Art of the Republic of Tatarstan
Gallery assistants lift the Sistine Madonna to hang it in its new hand-crafted frame at Dresden’s Galerie Alte Meister Museum, May 23 2012
Gallery assistants lift the Sistine Madonna to hang it in its new hand-crafted frame at Dresden’s Galerie Alte Meister Museum, May 23 2012.
Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images.
Mikhail KORNETSKY. Rescued Madonna. 1984–1985
Mikhail KORNETSKY. Rescued Madonna. 1984-1985
Oil on canvas
© Latvian National Museum, Riga

Back

Tags:

 

MOBILE APP OF THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY MAGAZINE

Download The Tretyakov Gallery Magazine in App StoreDownload The Tretyakov Gallery Magazine in Google play