"The holy group is represented standing in the midst of an agreeable landscape. The madonna, gracefully supporting the left arm of the saviour with one hand, gently places the other upon the head of St. John, as if encouraging his approaches to his divine master. The young harbinger of glad tidings, dressed in his coat of camel's hair, and resting upon his reed cross, adVances towards him with an expression full of reverence and affection, and is received with kind regard. " A late French writer observes, that 'good judges discover in this picture an example of high excellence in every part of the painting; Raffaello having here united to the pure and dignified style of design for which he is so eminent, the colouring and intelligence of clair-obscure admired in the works of the best painters of the Venetian school.' Nor is the praise undeserved. The execution throughout keeps pace with the beauty of the thought and the composition. The face of the madonna is one of the most beautiful Raffaello ever painted; the whole group is full of grace. The draperies are judiciously varied in their foldings, and have prodigious richness of tone. The naked figures of the two children are finely drawn. " Raffaello is said to have painted the picture for the Duke of Urbino, who gave it to the king of Spain. It was afterwards presented by the Spanish monarch to Gustavus Adolphus, King of Wweden, and from him descended to his daughter Christiana, in whose celebrated collection it held a distinguished rank. At the death of the queen, her cabinet was purchased by D. Livio Odescalchi, nephew of Pope Innocent XI, who, at length disposed of it to the Duke of orleans. Upon the arrival of the Orleans collection in England, this admirable picture was added, with many others, to the collection at cleveland house." [P. 2-3.]
Gallery of Pictures, selected from the most admired productions of the Old Masters, Doggett's Repository, No. 16 Market-Street.