TO THE SISTINE MADONNA

*A twentieth-century American writer of poetry and prose, Cornelia Otis Skinner, appears to have had a craving for a deeper knowledge and understanding of Mary of Nazareth. After a visit to Italy she wrote these poignant lines;
Mary, most serenely fair,
Hear an unbeliever's prayer.
Nurtured in an austere creed,
Sweetest Lady, she has need
Of the solace of thy grace;
See the tears that stain her face
As she kneels to beg your love,
You whom no one told her of.

THE SISTINE MADONNA
* The Sistine Madonna, also called the Madonna di San Sisto, is an oil painting by the Italian artist Raphael Sanzio. The altarpiece was commissioned in 1512 by Pope Julius II for the church of San Sisto, Piacenza. The canvas was one of the last Madonnas painted by the artist. Giorgio Vasari called it "a truly rare and extraordinary work".
Relocated to Dresden from 1754, the well-known painting was particularly influential in Germany. After World War II, it was relocated to Moscow for a decade before being returned to Germany. It is now a masterpiece of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister.
The painting was commissioned by Pope Julius II in honor of his late uncle, Pope Sixtus IV, as an altarpiece for the basilica church of the Benedictine Monastery of San Sisto in Piacenza, with which the Rovere family had a long-standing relationship. The commission required that the painting depict both Saints Sixtus and Barbara. Legend has it that when Antonio da Correggio first laid eyes on the piece, he was inspired to cry, "And I also, I am a painter!"
Relocation to Germany
In 1754, Augustus III of Poland purchased the painting for 110,000 – 120,000 francs, whereupon it was relocated to Dresden and achieved new prominence; this was to remain the highest price paid for any painting for many decades. In 2001's The Invisible Masterpiece, Hans Belting and Helen Atkins describe the influence the painting has had in Germany:
Like no other work of art, Raphael's Sistine Madonna in Dresden has fired the Germans' imagination, uniting or dividing them in the debate about art and religion.... Over and again, this painting has been hailed as 'supreme among the world's paintings' and accorded the epithet 'divine'....
Sistine Madonna was rescued from destruction during the bombing of Dresden in World War II, but the conditions in which it was saved and the subsequent history of the piece are themselves the subject of controversy. The painting was stored, with other works of art, in a tunnel in Saxon Switzerland; when the Red Army encountered them, they took them.The painting was temporarily removed to Pillnitz, from which it was transported in a box on a tented flatcar to Moscow. There, sight of the Madonna brought Soviet leading art official Mikhail Khrapchenko to declare that the Pushkin Museum would now be able to claim a place among the great museums of the world.
In 1946, the painting went temporarily on restricted exhibition in the Pushkin, along with some of the other treasures the Soviets had retrieved.But in 1955, after the death of Joseph Stalin, the Soviets decided to return the art to Germany, "for the purpose of strengthening and furthering the progress of friendship between the Soviet and German peoples." There followed some international controversy, with press around the world stating that the Dresden art collection had been damaged in Soviet storage.[23] Soviets countered that they had in fact saved the pieces. The tunnel in which the art was stored in Saxon Switzerland was climate controlled, but according to a Soviet military spokesperson, the power had failed when the collection was discovered and the pieces were exposed to the humid conditions of the underground. Soviet paintings Partisan Madonna of Minsk by Mikhail Savitsky and And the Saved World Remembers by Mai Dantsig are based on the Sistine Madonna.
Stories of the horrid conditions from which the Sistine Madonna had been saved began to circulate. But, as reported by ARTnews in 1991, Russian art historian Andrei Chegodaev, who had been sent by the Soviets to Germany in 1945 to review the art, denied it:
It was the most insolent, bold-faced lie.... In some gloomy, dark cave, two [actually four] soldiers, knee-deep in water, are carrying the Sistine Madonna upright, slung on cloths, very easily, barely using two fingers. But it couldn’t have been lifted like this even by a dozen healthy fellows... because it was framed.... Everything connected with this imaginary rescue is simply a lie.
ARTnews also indicated that the commander of the brigade that retrieved the Madonna also described the stories as "a lie", in a letter to Literaturnaya Gazeta published in the 1950s, indicating that "in reality, the ‘Sistine Madonna,’ like some other pictures, ...was in a dry tunnel, where there were various instruments that monitored humidity, temperature, etc."But, whether true or not, the stories had found foothold in public imagination and have been recorded as fact in a number of books. 
Contemporary display Edit

After its return to Germany, the painting was restored to display in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, where guidebooks single it out in the collection, variously describing it as the "most famous", the "top", the "showpiece", and "the collection's highlight".From 26 May to 26 August 2012, the Dresden gallery celebrated the 500th anniversary of the painting.

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