The Two Cherubs  

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The Two Cherubs, by Raphael, detail from the Sistine Madonna
The Two Cherubs, by Raphael, detail from the Sistine Madonna

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The Two Cherubs is the informal title to a prominent detail in Sistine Madonna of Raphael depicting two cherubs.

They are at the bottom of the painting, beneath Mary, and are famous in their own right.

As early as 1913 Gustav Kobbé declared that "no cherub or group of cherubs is so famous as the two that lean on the altar top indicated at the very bottom of the picture."

These cherubs have inspired legends of their own. According to a 1912 article in Fra Magazine, when Raphael was painting the Madonna the children of his model would come in to watch. Struck by their posture as they did, the story goes, he added them to the painting exactly as he saw them.

Another story, recounted in 1912's St. Nicholas Magazine, says that Raphael rather was inspired by two children he encountered on the street when he saw them "looking wistfully into the window of a baker's shop."

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