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The cherubim in Raphael's Sistine Madonna have become an icon all their own since the altarpiece's creation in 1513-1514. Painted for the Monastery of San Sisto in Piacenza, the painting was removed and relocated to Germany in 1754, where it was highly influential. Though it spent a decade in Moscow in the wake of World War II, it has since been returned to the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden. Though the beautiful oil depicts the Madonna holding the Christ Child surrounded by Saint Sixtus and Saint Barbara, the most recognizable part of the painting are the two small, winged cherubim at the bottom of the composition, gazing wistfully up at the scene. Reproductions of the cherubim have been featured nearly everywhere in popular culture, appearing on stamps, postcards, wrapping paper, t-shirts, and various other souvenirs. Their popularity began as early as 1912, and many different legends of their conception have been dispersed; one theory purports that Raphael was inspired by two small children that he saw gazing longingly into the window of a baker's shop. No matter their origin, the cherubim of the Sistine Madonna are an engaging aspect of a wonderful composition.
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