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The Madonna of Foligno meets the Sistine Madonna

· On the occassion of the Pope's Visit to Germany two Rafael masterpieces will be united in Dresden ·

On June 14, the Vatican Museums will present the exhibition, Celestial Splendor. Raphael, Durer, and Grunewald paint the Madonna, which will take place at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen of Dresden from September 6, 2011 through January 8, 2012 on the occasion of the Apostolic Visit to Germany of Pope Benedict XVI. For the first time, two of the most celebrated works of Raphael dedicated to the Madonna will be shown together. The restoration of the Stanza di Eliodoro (Room of Heliodorus) will also be on exhibit.

Those two little angels with the mischievous air are perhaps the most famous in the world. Raphael, the great artist of Julius II and Leo X at the beginning of the 16th century, playfully placed them at the feet of the imposing vision of the Madonna with Pope Sisto and St. Catherine. The name of the work, Madonna Sistina , (Sistine Madonna) and the reproduction of the angels on numerous postcards, t-shirts and souvenirs has brought many tourists to look for the famous painting in the Vatican and even in the Sistine Chapel. When the Holy Father goes to his homeland next September, he will not visit Dresden where the Madonna Sistina is on display in the Gemaldegalerie .  He will, however, bring a great gift to his fellow countrymen, and to art experts and fans all over the world: he will bring with him the Madonna of Foligno – which normally hangs in the Pinacoteca Vaticana (Vatican Picture Gallery) and is considered a sort of sister to the Madonna Sistina – and for the first time will place it next to the painting in Dresden. The two “sisters” probably last saw each other in Raphael’s workshop, during the brief moment of their more or less simultaneous creation. With this gesture, the Holy Father, once again, is the bearer of an important cultural event of international importance, just as last year during his visit to London when he made possible the display of the tapestries of Raphael next to their sketches. These two major representations of the Madonna by Raphael will be surrounded in Dresden by a chorus of other German Madonnas of the same period, conceived on the eve of the Lutheran reform. Amongst these are the paintings of Albrecht Durer, Mathias Grunewald and Lukas Cranach the Elder; all of which, in a variety of differing styles, pay witness to an extraordinary unity of faith.

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