Madonna della seggiola, or the Madonna of the chair, although she sits here on the Throne of Wisdom. Raphael painted her five hundred years ago, as a mother dressed in the fashion of the Middle East, holding her child with St John looking on. Without sounding completely bonkers, I can partly identify with that look; a young mother partly filled with pride and partly unsure of what the world holds for her first child. I have seen that look in my daughter’s earliest photos and in photos of many other young mothers. As a mother I feel terrible when I think of the aging Mary and what she must have felt when her son was crucified.
Maria Montessori wanted this to be hung in each of her schools for children as a symbol of humanity (St. John) revering maternity (Mary).
Several artists including Zoffany painted this into their own paintings.
Her turban was Raphael’s signature in a way as he might have done the same while painting. He usually signed his name on the mantle around Mary’s neck but there is no mantle in this painting.