Raphael’s Angels are famous all over the world but few people know that they are painted on the lower border of The Sistine Madonna, well-known painting made between 1512 and 1513 for the convent of St. Sisto in Piacenza. The painting was sold by the abbot of St. Sisto to Augustus III (King of Poland and Elector of Saxony) after two years of negotiation. Conclusively the painting was brought to Dresden and its incredible journey took about 50 days. On the 1st of March 1754 The Sistine Madonna was officially presented at the Royal Palace. It is said that on the day of its arrival, Augustus III rose from his throne to exclaim “Room for the great Raphael!”. Then the painting was then put in his throne’s place.
The painting, along with most of the artistic pieces of the Old Masters Gallery of Dresden, was hidden away before the bombing on February 1945, then it was sheltered in the Soviet Union and came back to Dresden several years later.
Since its arrival The Sistine Madonna represented the masterpiece of the greatest interest in the painting collection of Augustus III, who had already started an impressive acquisition campaign in the previous years. The most impressive acquisition had been the one of the 100 most beautiful paintings belonging to Este’s Family in Modena, sold in 1745-46 by Francesco III to refill the exhausted finances of the Dukedom. This purchase went down in the history of art and contributed to make the current Old Masters Gallery of Dresden as one of the most renowned museums in the world.