"Who has not written about Raphael and his Sistine Madonna? The idea of man, who had attained at last his own personality in flesh and blood, who had discovered the world and God in himself and around him after centuries of worshipping the medieval Lord, on whom his gaze had been fixed so steadily as to sap his moral strength -- all of this is said to have found its perfect, coherent and ultimate embodiment in that canvas by the genius of Urbino. In a way, perhaps, it has. For the Virgin Mary, in the artist's representation is an ordinary citizen, whose psychological state as reflected in the canvas has its foundation in real life: she is fearful of the fate of her son, given for people in sacrifice. Even though it is in the name of their salvation, he himself is being surrendered in the fight against the temptation to defend him from them.--Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time
All of this is indeed vividly written into the picture -- from my point of view, too vividly, for the artist's thought is there for the reading: all too unambiguous and well-defined. One is irritated by the painter's sickly allegorical tendentiousness hanging over the form and overshadowing all the purely painterly qualities of the picture. The artist has concentrated his will on clarity of thought, on the intellectual concept of his work, and paid the price: the painting is flabby and insipid."