Madonna of the Pinks

In 2004, The National Gallery purchased Raphael ‘s Madonna of the Pinks with the aid of £11.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). For some, this was a controversial use of NHLF funds, and NHLF was concerned that the grant should be seen to be put to good use. For the National Gallery, this meant that the Madonna of the Pinks should be seen by more than the visitors to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, and by more than traditional gallery visitors. A link to the government social inclusion agenda was also desired.

As the NG’s acting Outreach Officer, I devised and delivered the learning programme for Madonna of the Pinks as part of a national touring programme. I worked with contemporary artists to deliver the learning workshops for the painting, including contemporary sculptor Al Johnson and medallion maker, Felicity Powell, both of whom delivered the practical and creative elements of the programme.

Some of the images reflect the work made in their creative workshops.

Venues included:

  • Manchester Art Gallery (1st May – 27th June 2004)
  • National Museum and Gallery, Cathays Park, Cardiff (3rd July-19th September 2004)
  • The National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh (5th February–10th April 2005)
  • Bowes Museum, County Durham (16th April – 26th June 2005)
  • From 20th October 2004–16th January 2005, the Madonna of the Pinks was exhibited in the National Gallery as part of the exhibition Raphael: from Urbino to Rome. On its return to London after the national tour, the painting was exhibited in Room 8 in the Sainsbury Wing.

Evaluation of Madonna of the Pinks

The Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) at the University of Leicester was commissioned to carry out a three-year evaluation of the impact of Madonna of the Pinks on young people, focusing as far as possible on the perceptions, feelings, and attitudes of young people who, while being unfamiliar with art galleries, had the opportunity for sustained engagement with the painting. It attempted to investigate the short-term and long-term impact of engagement with the painting on the participants of the workshops based at the National Gallery, at the National Museum and Gallery of Wales in Cardiff, and at the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle, County Durham.

The research into the impact of the Madonna of the Pinks extended over three years from June 2004-2007. Several units of research were carried out and each was subject to its own separate report as one component of the complete research project. Each unit of research was reported on separately and conclusions were drawn in each case. In the first section, these conclusions were assembled and provide the basis of some answers to the research questions. Research was carried out by Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, Jocelyn Dodd, Lisanne Gibson and Ceri Jones.

Read the Evaluation of the Education and Community Strategy for the Madonna of the Pinks 2004-2007 (PDF)

Read about other outreach projects including Line of Vision and Line of Vision Young Mothers