My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“And I tell you that to paint one beautiful woman, I should need to see several beautiful women, and to have you with me to choose the best,” wrote Raphael, then at the zenith of his fame and good fortune, to his life-long friend Count Baldassare Castiglione, who—the ideal courtier himself—has given the world that immortal monument of Renaissance culture, the Book of the Courtier.
PLATE IV.—LA BELLE JARDINIÈRE (In the Louvre)
“La Belle Jardinière” is a magnificent example of Raphael’s Florentine style, which came from his being influenced by Leonardo da Vinci when at Florence (see the triangular composition). The Virgin’s mantle was probably finished by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio; other parts—the hands and the feet—are hardly finished; nevertheless it is one of the finest, most expressive, and touching Madonnas by the Master.
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.