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Although £400,000 is only a fraction of the sum required, it constitutes one of the largest grants offered by the Art Fund in its 100-year history.
Art Fund director David Barrie said: “This is an extremely beautiful and amazingly well-preserved picture that shows Raphael’s (1483-1520) complete mastery of colour and composition. It would make a wonderful addition to the National Gallery’s collection if only the enormous funding challenge can be met.”

A small cherrywood panel measuring just 111/2 x 9in (29 x 23 cm), The Madonna of the Pinks is believed to have been painted in Florence c.1507-1508, just before Raphael left to work at the papal court in Rome where he was to remain until his death. The painting encapsulates a significant moment in Raphael’s artistic evolution when he was based in Florence studying the great masters of his day. Here the influence of Leonardo can be seen clearly; with Raphael basing his composition on Leonardo’s painting Benois Madonna now in the Hermitage.