The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila - by Raphael

The subject of this painting is the meeting of Leo I (ca. 400-461, reigned from 440) and Attila, king of the Huns (reigned 434-453), who are shown approaching one another in a hilly landscape. Raphael has located the event, which in reality took place in the vicinity of Mantua, before the gates of Rome - the center of Christendom and the seat of the popes. The Colosseum and other buildings can be made out in the background. The pope bravely approaches the Huns, who, with their weapons pointing at him, are ready for battle and are only able to restrain their rearing horses with some difficulty. However, the focus is Attila, who occupies the precise center of the picture. The king of the Huns leans back on his horse to observe the miraculous appearance of SS. Peter and Paul, who, as Leo Is celestial protection, have raised their swords in readiness to defend the pope. Supported by the might of God, Leo the Great faces up to the superior forces of the Huns without fear and orders them to halt with a simple gesture. Attila acknowledges defeat and holds back his army with outstretched arms. With great skill, Raphael employs painterly means, such as light and dark colors and the contrast between calmness and agitated movement, to emphasize the opposition of good and evil.