Raphael's Vision of the Mother of God
The German 18th century romantic, W. H. Wackenroder (1773-98), in a little work of his published in 1797 in Berlin under the title, "Outpourings of an art-loving Friar," includes a description --based on historical documents--of the spiritual experience whereby Raphael was enabled to find the path which led to the creation of his "Madonna’s."
In this book by Wackenroder, a German monk tells how, as he was looking amongst the manuscripts of his monastery, he found some writings by Bramante where the latter tells where he learned from Raphael how the Madonna's the secret of his wonderful Madonna's. Raphael has always wished he could paint the Mother of God in all her perfection, but he had never succeeded.
"One night when he, as had often happened, he had been praying to the Virgin in his dreams, he suddenly awoke with a start in a state of considerable distress. In the darkness of night his eyes were attracted by a bright light on the wall opposite his bed, and when he looked properly he became aware that his picture of the Madonna, which was hanging, as yet unfinished, hanging on the wall, was illumined by a most delicate ray of light and had become a finished picture and was truly alive.
The divine power in this picture so overwhelmed him that he broke out in tears. The image was looking at him in the most indescribably moving way, and he even fancied that it had actually moved. What was most amazing that it seemed to him as though this image was exactly what he had always sought, even though he had never had more than an obscure and confused idea of it.
He was altogether unable to remember how he went to sleep again. On the following morning he arose like one newly born; the vision remained permanently and firmly imprinted on hid mind and senses, and from then on he succeeded in portraying the Mother of God as She had appeared before his soul. Ever since, he felt a certain reverence for his own pictures."
excerpt from book by Sergei Prokofief, "Eternal Individuality; towards a Karmic Biography of Novalis."