Joy of Museums Virtual Tours

Virtual Tours of Museums, Art Galleries, and Historic Sites

“The Madonna of the Pinks” by Raphael

"The Madonna of the Pinks" by Raphael

“The Madonna of the Pinks” by Raphael

“The Madonna of the Pinks” by Raphael depicts the Virgin Mary playing with the Christ child and handing him carnations. The Italian title is the Madonna of the Carnation.

The botanical name of these flowers is dianthus, which in Greek mean ‘Flower of God.’

The sunny landscape through the arched window shows a ruined building, symbolizing the collapse of the pagan world at the birth of Christ. The dimly-lit room setting demonstrates the influence of Netherlandish art on this painting.

This masterpiece is a relatively small devotional painted for Christian contemplation, and its owner could have held the painting in their hand. 

Raphael has transformed this familiar subject from the earlier formal stiffly posed pictures of earlier traditions into a new approach. He is celebrating the tender emotions between a young mother and her child.


Raphael was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form, ease of composition, and together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he is one of the great masters of that period. 

Raphael was enormously productive, despite his death at 37, leaving a large body of work. Many of his works are in the Vatican Palace, where the frescoed Raphael Rooms were the central, and the largest, work of his career.

The best-known work is The School of Athens in the Vatican.

Raphael’s career started in Umbria. Then for four years, he spent time in Florence, absorbing the artistic renaissance of Florence. Then his last twelve years in Rome, he worked for two Popes and their associates.

The Madonna of the Pinks

  • Title:              The Madonna of the Pinks
  • Alternative:    The  Madonna of the Carnation
  • Italian:            La Madonna dei garofani
  • Artist:             Raphael
  • Created:         1507
  • Medium:        Oil on yew wood
  • Periods:          High Renaissance
  • Dimensions:  Height: 27.9 cm (10.9 in); Width: 22.4 cm (8.8 in)
  • Museum:        National Gallery, London


Raphael: The Renaissance Virtuoso

A Tour of The National Gallery

15th Century Paintings

16th Century Paintings

17th Century Paintings

18th Century Paintings

Raphael, Madonna of the Goldfinch

Raphael, Alba Madonna


“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
– Leonardo da Vinci


Photo Credit 1) Raphael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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