The direct comparison between Raphael’s painting and the 17th-century copy by Pier Dandini is a unique, unrepeatable occasion, around which the entire exhibition project revolves.

Madonna of Baldacchino, Raphael, oil on canvas (279×217 cm), 1506-1508 about

The Madonna of the Baldacchino was painted by Raphael in 1506-1508, and is the only large work for public display known to date from the Florentine period of the great artist from Urbino.

Raphael’s creation is one of his most memorable for its harmonious figures, delicate expressions, and its ability to create a space that is airy and monumental, yet at the same time very moderate.

The altarpiece was commissioned by the Dei family for the Church of Santo Spirito in Florence, but it was never actually installed in the place for which it was conceived. A few years after it was painted, Baldassarre Turini, a high-ranking prelate who lived in the early 16th century and a leading exponent of the Pescia community, acquired it and had it placed in the Turini family chapel-mausoleum inside the Cathedral of Pescia.

The work remained in this town in the Valdinievole area until 1697, when it was purchased by Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici, who brought it back to Florence and placed it in the Pitti Palace, its current location, where it is displayed among the masterpieces in the Palatine Gallery. 

The sale sparked violent reactions among the people of Pescia, who were deeply devoted to the Virgin Mary and much attached to Raphael’s painting, such that it was necessary to remove it during the night in order to transport it to Florence, replacing it with a copy made by the Florentine painter Pier Dandini.