The original Madonna of the Harpies (1517) currently resides in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. It was painted by Andrea del Sarto (1486 – 1530) during the High Renaissance. This likely 19th century reproduction, artist unknown, resides in the hallway of a local church. Like similar paintings I’ve found in churches as I photograph their stained glass windows, the history of their paintings, tucked oftentimes in out of the way places, has faded over time. The how and the why of their existence is hard to discern without deeper research. And then in the end, as I have been reminded, one must keep in mind that during the late 19th century as wealthy Americans made grand tours of Italy there was a great demand for reproductions of Renaissance art (assuming one couldn’t buy the art outright).
Andrea del Sarto was a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo and Raphael. This painting is considered to be one of his finest works. Much has been written about this painting. I especially enjoyed reading David Franklin’s description of the artist’s creative process on page 136 of his book Painting in Renaissance Florence, 1500-1550. I don’t know that I shall ever make it to Florence but it was a treat to learn of this powerful work of art by walking down a hallway.
Sources & Additional Reading