"Madonna's Putto"

Antique German Sterling Silver & Hand Painted Porcelain Enamel Putto Brooch

  • Sale
  • Regular price $550.00

The Sistine Madonna, also called the Madonna di San Sisto, is an oil painting by the Italian artist Raphael.  The painting was commissioned in 1512 by Pope Julius II for the church of San Sisto, Piancenza, and probably executed c. 1513–1514. It was purchased in 1754 by Augstus III of Poland and relocated to Dresden. During WWII, the Red Army took possession, exhibiting it from 1946-1955, when the Russians returned it to Germany. In 2012, the Dresden gallery celebrated its 500th anniversary!


In the painting the Madonna, holding the Christ Child and flanked by Saint Sixtus and Saint Barbara, stands on clouds before dozens of obscured putti, while two distinctive winged putti rest on their elbows beneath her. A prominent element within the painting, the winged angels beneath Mary are famous in their own right. The angels of this nature are known as putti and are commonly conflated with cherubim.  Heavily marketed, they have been featured in stamps, postcards, T-shirts, socks, and wrapping paper. These putti 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.

The image of the putti was copied by artists all over the world, and sometimes has only one figure depicted, as in this darling hand painted brooch. The silver setting is stamped GESCHUTZT, pronounced 'guess-shutst', an abbreviation of gesetzlich geschutt, a German phrase that translates as 'legally protected" or copyrighted. Perhaps our piece was deemed different enough from the original that it could warrant its own copyright. More likely, the style of brooch utilizing silver with applied porcelain was the intent in this claim. Regardless, it is a wonderful little piece, accented with a red and gold guilloche enameled border. The perfect little angel to guard over you when you wear it on your shoulder!

Details (approximate) 

Dimensions: 3/4"

Weight: 5.48 grams

Materials: Sterling silver, hand painted porcelain enamel

Marks: GESCHUETZT, Silver mark

Condition: Excellent Antique condition commensurate with age and wear