This panel painted in oil by Raphael in the year 1507 and kept in the Louvre Museum in Paris is a representation of the Virgin Mary in the field, and since the 18th century it has been called La Bella Jardinera.
The truth is thatRaphael Sanzioin the so-called Florentine period of his production from 1504 to 1508 he painted dozens of images of Madonnas. For example the Madonna del Prado or the Goldfinch. Works that have many elements in common, such as the fact that it is usually an outdoor scene in which the Virgin is represented with the Child Jesus playing and accompanied by the future Saint John the Baptist. That is to say, these are images of the most familiar and always very maternal tone, where the sweetness of everything is striking, which is reflected especially by the game of glances between the three characters.
Raphael's beautiful gardener
That tone of the paintings and the abundance of images of this theme is something that art historians justify with the argument that Rafael lost his mother when he was only 8 years old.
Another very common element in the Madonnas of his Florentine period is that while the three characters are in the foreground, the space opens up in the background in a wide perspective. And there is usually a city there, almost always dominated by the Gothic tower of a church. An element that we can see here butalso in the Dream of a knight or in the madonnas that we have named previously.
For this historians give two possible reasons. One that you may remember the landscapes you have seen traveling through Lombardy. While others say that it is an influence of the copies and studies he has seen ofFlemish paintingof the time. The fact is that in his following pictures of the Roman period, this type of architecture will disappear from his background.
But even if there is that element of Flemish influence and Gothic origin, we are looking at a picture entirely of the Italian Renaissance. Not in vain the great influences of Raphael for this composition are Perugino, Leonardo da Vinci and Miguel Ángel. From them he knows how to take the balance of pyramidal composition that is also very dynamic thanks to that exchange of gazes. He has also been able to capture the symbolic tone to incorporate certain colors or flowers charged with symbolism. Undoubtedly, the mastery of light and shadow, as well as perspective, is indebted to Leonardo, while the plasticity of the figures are learned from Michelangelo, whom he knew above all for his facet as a sculptor.
In short, this is a work that has all the charm of Raphael's art and sums up the harmony and beauty characteristic of the Renaissance in Italy.