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Raphael’s Madonnas

In the first decade of the sixteenth century the work of Raphael indicates a strong interest in episodes on the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. During his Florentine period (1504-1508) Raphael did at least two versions of the legendary Riposo or Rest on the Flight into Egypt.

Letters as architecture: The alphabet from Luca Pacioli’s De Divina Proportione, 1509

Franciscan friar and mathematician Luca Pacioli wrote several books on mathematics and geometry. Among them, in 1497, Pacioli conceived De Divina Proportione, a treatise in vulgar on mathematical proportions applied to geometry and art with a specific focus on architecture and the human figure. The work was finally published in 1509 featuring illustrations by Leonardo da Vinci.

Doni Tondo: Nudes and Nephilim

In recent years the five nude young men in the background of Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo have received as much, if not more, attention than the Holy Family in the foreground. There would appear to be no agreement as to who they are or what they represent. Among other things, they have been variously interpreted as angels without wings, sinners, penitents awaiting Baptism, figures from pagan antiquity, or figures from the Old Testament.

In a paper, entitled “Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo: Holy Family and Family Myth,” Andree Hayum concentrated on the scene in the background. She noted the many different interpretations offered for the five nude men, but found the source in the Old Testament account of the drunkenness of Noah. She saw an obvious connection between the young men and Michelangelo’s famous depiction of the Noah story on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.

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