RaphaelRaffaello Santi was born on 28 March or 6 April 1483, the son of Giovanni Santi, a painter attached to the court of Urbino. He presumably received his first artistic training under his father, who died in August 1494 when Raphael was only eleven. There are competing theories about his later training. One theory is that he was apprenticed to Pietro Perugino after his father’s death. Another is that he entered Perugino’s studio as an assistant in the late 1490s, when he was in his mid-teens. A third theory denies that he was ever Perugino’s pupil (as Vasari and other early writers claim) and has him remaining in Urbino, where his father’s workshop may have continued to function. Clearly precocious, he is referred to, when just seventeen, as an independent painter (‘magister’) in a contract of 10 December 1500 for a large altarpiece for the church of Sant’Agostino in the little Umbrian city of Città di Castello. This altarpiece (four fragments of which survive in Naples, Brescia and Paris) was painted in collaboration with his father’s chief assistant, and the influence of Perugino is less evident than in commissions of a year or two later. The ‘Mond Crucifixion’ (painted in 1503 for another church in Città di Castello and now in London) and the Coronation of the Virgin (painted probably in the same year for a church in Perugia and now in the Vatican) rely so heavily on Perugino’s designs and figure types that Vasari rightly observes that it is almost impossible to distinguish them from Perugino’s own works.
While continuing to work for patrons in Perugia and Urbino, from about October 1504 Raphael spent an appreciable amount of time in Florence, and was strongly influenced by Florentine artists, particularly Leonardo, Michelangelo and Fra Bartolommeo. He was not tied to any major projects in Florence but painted mainly small devotional pictures of the Madonna and Child and a few portraits.
On Bramante’s recommendation, he was invited to Rome in late 1508. He worked for Pope Julius II on the decoration of two rooms (the Stanza della Segnatura and the Stanza d’Eliodoro) of the Vatican. A third room (the Stanza dell’Incendio) was decorated in 1514-17 for Leo X, for whom Raphael also designed a series of tapestries for the Sistine Chapel. In 1514 he was appointed architect of the new St Peter’s in succession to Bramante, and by the end of his life he seems to have been entrusted with virtually all papal enterprises in the arts – architectural, archaeological and theatrical as well as pictorial. As though all this was not enough, private commissions poured in on him, especially from the Sienese banker Agostino Chigi and Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici (later Clement VII). Overburdened with work, Raphael relied increasingly on a highly organised studio. By 1514, his chief assistants were the Roman Giulio Romano (c.1499-1546) and the Florentine Giovanni Francesco Penni (c.1496-c.1528), who jointly inherited his studio. A little later, his workshop also included two even younger artists, Perino del Vaga (1500/01-47) and Polidoro da Caravaggio (c.1500-43), and he subcontracted work to Giovanni da Udine (1487-1564), an expert in still-life and grotesque painting and stuccoing. Such was the efficiency of Raphael’s shop in his later years that it is often almost impossible to distinguish the different hands involved in the frescoes and oil paintings. It was once assumed that Raphael executed virtually no paintings with his own hand during the last five years of his life. However, since the last quarter of the twentieth century, a number of late works (including the Raphael Cartoons at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Vatican Transfiguration) have been recognised as substantially autograph.
Raphael died suddenly on Good Friday 1520 at the age of only thirty-seven. His tomb is in the Pantheon. It was rumoured at his death that the Pope had intended to make him a cardinal, which is evidence of the remarkable esteem in which he was held at court.
Raphael was the most eclectic of great artists – ‘always imitating and always original’ (Joshua Reynolds). While not an original genius in the same sense as Leonardo or Michelangelo, he was probably more influential than either, admired for his consummate skill at composition, the beauty of his figures and his evocative and learned recreation of the art of antiquity. His influence on contemporaries owed much to his collaboration with Marcantonio Raimondi (c.1480-1527/34), who pioneered reproductive engraving.
Baltimore. Walters Art Gallery.
‘Madonna dei Candelabri’. Wood, 65 in dia.
So called from the angels bearing flaming torches at the sides. In poor condition, partly repainted and possibly cut down. Usually regarded as a studio work of Raphael’s Roman period. In his 1976 gallery catalogue, Federico Zeri maintained that the central group of the Virgin and Child is worthy of Raphael himself. Dussler (1971) ascribed the execution to Giovanni Francesco Penni. The composition (Zeri argued) derives from a thirteenth-century mosaic ascribed to the workshop or circle of Jacopo Torriti in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli at Rome. According to recent research (published by Patrizia Cavazzini in the June 2019 Burlington Magazine), the picture was probably commissioned by one Francesco Cinquini – a Roman citizen of Pisan origin, who was active as a notary and grain merchant. The Cinquini family had a burial chapel in Santa Maria in Aracoeli. A 'small roundel by Raphael with two heads nearby' is recorded in 1595 in the house in Rome of Francesco's descendant, Lelio Cinquini. The Baltimore tondo was one of no less than forty-four works (optimistically) listed as Raphael’s in the 1693 inventory of the Borghese collections. It was sold late in the eighteenth century, and passed through the collections of Lucien Bonaparte and the Duke of Lucca. Sold in London in 1841, it was later in the collection of Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro of Novar (a Scottish landowner, amateur artist and collector, best known as a patron, friend and travelling companion of Turner). Acquired by Henry Walters in 1901. The painting inspired Ingres’ Madonna of the Host (1854).
Bergamo. Accademia Carrara.
*Saint Sebastian. Wood, 43 x 34.
The bust-length saint, unusually represented clothed, is identified as Sebastian by the arrow he is holding. A very early, very Peruginesque work, probably painted for a private patron or confraternity in Perugia in the first few years of the sixteenth century. The saint, with his shoulder-length hair and dreamy expression, is very like the St John the Evangelist in the Mond Crucifixion of 1503 (National Gallery, London). Bought by the Milanese engraver Giuseppe Longhi for 3,000 lire from the Zurla family of Crema, and sold by him in 1836 to Conte Guglielmo Lochis, who bequeathed his collection to the Accademia Carrara in 1859. The picture, painted on a thin panel, is exceptionally well preserved. It was restored (along with its nineteenth-century gilded frame) in 2014.
*‘Solly Madonna’ (no. 141). Wood, 52 x 38.
The Child holds a goldfinch tethered by a string. One of Raphael’s earliest Madonnas, painted in about 1500-2 when still strongly under the influence of Perugino. (The pose of the naked baby, turning his head to the right, is borrowed from Perugino’s San Domenico Altarpiece of 1493.) Part of the vast collection of early Italian and Flemish works of art amassed by the English merchant Edward Solly during the Napoleonic Wars and sold to the Prussian State in 1821.
*Madonna with Saints Jerome and Francis (no. 145). Wood, 34 x 29.
The Child, seated on a cushion placed on the Virgin's knee, raises his hand in blessing. The saints are squeezed somewhat awkwardly into the background. Jerome, wearing his scarlet cardinal's hat, joins his hands in prayer. Francis, wearing the brown habit of the order he founded, lifts a hand marked with stigmata and gazes at the Child over the Virgin's shoulder. The little panel – approximately a foot square – is another very early work, probably painted in Perugia around 1501-3 and perhaps influenced by Pintoricchio’s altarpiece for Santa Maria dei Fossi (now in the Perugia Gallery). From the Borghese collection in Rome; bought by the King of Prussia in 1829 from Baron von der Ropp.
*‘Madonna Diotalevi’ (no. 147). Wood, 69 x 50.
The blessing Child is a replica of that in Perugino’s Madonna della Consolazione of 1498 (Perugia Gallery), while the type of the infant St John is Pintoricchio’s and the overall design is closely related to that of Pintoricchio’s Madonna in Cambridge. Berenson attributed the picture at one time to Eusebio da San Giorgio, while Venturi gave it to an assistant of Perugino; but modern critics accept it as a very early work of Raphael (about 1502-3). It was purchased in 1842 for the newly founded Berlin museum by its Director, Gustav Friedrich Waagen, for 150 luigi from the Marchese Diotalevi of Rimini. In 1939, it was stored for safekeeping in the potassium mine at Merkers. It passed into the hands of the American authorities in 1945 and was not returned to Berlin until 1956.
*‘Terranuova Madonna’ (no. 247A). Wood, 86 in dia.
The Child shows St John a scroll with the words Agnus Dei. The third child, on the extreme right, may be St James the Less (traditionally Christ's cousin). One of Raphael’s earliest tondo Madonnas, probably painted in about 1504-5 at the beginning of his Florentine period and close in style to the Madonna del Granduca. It may be one of two pictures mentioned by Vasari as painted for the prominent merchant Taddeo Taddei (for whom Michelangelo carved the marble tondo in the Royal Academy). It takes its name from the ducal family of Genoa and Naples – to which it belonged until 1845 when it was bought by King Frederick William IV of Prussia. Raphael's drawing for the head of the Madonna (perhaps a fragment of the cartoon) is preserved in the Kupferstichkabinett at Berlin.
*‘Colonna Madonna’ (no. 248). Wood, 77 x 56.
The seated Virgin holds a book, and the Child grasps the neck of her dress with an outstretched hand. The picture is usually thought to date from the end of Raphael’s Florentine period (1507-8). It is unusually pale in tone, and has sometimes been described (probably wrongly) as unfinished. It has sometimes been doubted (again probably wrongly) that the execution is entirely Raphael’s. Once in the Salviati collection in Florence and later the Colonna collection in Rome; acquired for the Prussian royal collection in 1827 from Duchess Maria Colonna Lante della Rovere. Unusually well preserved and free from restoration. The Colonna Madonna was a favourite picture of Prince Albert, who gave Queen Victoria a full-size porcelain copy (still in the British Royal Collection) as a Christmas present in 1858.
Bologna. Pinacoteca Nazionale.
**Saint Cecilia. Canvas (transferred from panel), 238 x 150.
The saint, in the centre, holds a portable organ, which seems about to slip from her hands, and listens to a choir of angels in heaven. St Paul, on the left, leans on his sword and the Magdalen stands on the right with her vase of ointment. Behind are the youthful St John the Evangelist, with his eagle perched on a book at his feet, and St Augustine with a crosier. The organ in the saint’s hand and the broken musical instruments (viola da gamba, flutes, kettledrums, cymbals, tambourine and triangle) at her feet are said by Vasari to have been painted by Giovanni da Udine. The picture was ordered (at the behest of Cardinal Lorenzo Pucci according to Vasari) in about 1513-14, but painted perhaps two or three years later, for the chapel of the Beata Elena Duglioli dell’Olio in the church of San Giovanni in Monte in Bologna. The Beata Elena, celebrated for her vow to remain a virgin in marriage, had been given a relic of St Cecilia by Cardinal Francesco Alidosi. Raphael was paid the enormous fee of 1,000 scudi. The picture was painted in Rome and transported to Bologna, where, according to Vasari, the local painter Francesco Francia was entrusted with the task of making good any damage sustained on the journey and installing the painting in the chapel. Vasari’s famous anecdote that Francia dropped dead after the painting was unpacked, overwhelmed by grief at his own inferiority, is apocryphal. So too is the story that Correggio, visiting Bologna and seeing a painting by Raphael for the first time, exclaimed 'anch'io son' pittore' ('I too am a painter').
The picture was one of thirty-two works looted by the French from Bologna in 1796. When in Paris, it was transferred from panel to canvas, heavily retouched and revarnished; as a result, the sky, in particular, appears rather flat and dull. The frame is a copy of the original. The exquisitely crafted original frame (usually ascribed to the Bolognese architect, sculptor and wood-carver Andrea Marchesi da Formigine) remains in situ in the church and contains a copy of Raphael's altarpiece by Clemente Alberi (1861).
Boston. Gardner Museum.
*Lamentation. Wood, 24 x 29.
This small scene recalls Perugino’s altarpiece from San Giusto (now in the Uffizi). It is one of the five panels that formed the predella of the Colonna Altarpiece, painted in about 1504-5 for the convent of Sant’Antonio da Padua in Perugia. The Lamentation was in the centre, and was painted on the same plank of wood as two other scenes from Christ’s Passion – the Procession to Calvary (National Gallery, London) and the Agony in the Garden (Metropolitan Museum, New York). Two small panels of St Francis of Assisi and St Anthony of Padua (Dulwich Gallery, London) were probably at either end of the predella, beneath the pilasters of the frame. An upside-down cartoon transfer of the composition of another of the predella panels – the Agony in the Garden – has been discovered beneath the Lamentation. The main panel and lunette of the altarpiece are in the Metropolitan Museum. The predella panels were separated from the rest of the altarpiece in 1663, when they were sold to Queen Christina of Sweden. Copies made by Claudio Inglesi (a French painter working in Perugia) as replacements for the originals are now in the gallery at Perugia. The Lamentation was once owned by the English painter Sir Thomas Lawrence and was acquired by Mrs Gardner in 1900.
Portrait of Tommaso Inghirami. Wood, 89 x 62.
Tommaso 'Fedra' Inghirami (1470-1516) was an eminent Latin scholar and orator, who held important posts in the papal administration (including Prefect of the Vatican Library and Secretary of the conclave that elected Leo X). Raphael's portrait shows him pausing in the act of writing, gazing upwards as though lost in contemplation. It was probably painted in Rome around 1510-14. There are two almost identical versions: the one at Boston, which came from the Inghirami's descendants at Volterra, and one at the Pitti Palace, which was traditionally assumed to be Raphael's original. From the late nineteenth century, some writers – beginning with Giovanni Morelli followed by Bernard Berenson – claimed that the Boston painting was the prime version, commissioned by the sitter, and the Pitti version was a studio replica or old copy. It was on Berenson’s recommendation that Mrs Gardner purchased the portrait from the Inghirami family for $15,000 in 1898. Since the 1980s, when both versions were subjected to technical examination, belief in the the superiority of the Boston version has weakened. Giovanni Batistini (August 1996 Burlington Magazine) adduces evidence from the Inghirami archives to support the view that it is a seventeenth-century copy of the Pitti version.
Brescia. Pinacoteca Tosio-Martinengo.
*Salvator Mundi. Wood, 30 x 25.
Half-length figure of the risen Christ, wearing a crown of thorns, his pierced hand raised in blessing. This small, exquisitely painted devotional panel is a comparatively early work (about 1505-6). From the Casa Mosca at Pesaro; acquired in 1821 by the Brescian collector Conte Paolo Tosio, who bequeathed his pictures to the City of Brescia in 1844. Until recently, nothing was known of the picture's early history, but research published in 2008 (by Lothar Sickel) suggests that in 1584 the panel belonged to Bishop Ascanio Cesarini. Well preserved (cleaned in 1986).
*Head of an Angel. Wood (transferred to canvas in 1894-5), 31 x 27.
A fragment of the altarpiece of St Nicholas of Tolentino, which was commissioned on 10 December 1500 by the wool merchant Andrea Baroncio for his chapel in Sant’Agostino at Città di Castello. The altarpiece, Raphael’s earliest documented work, was damaged by an earthquake in 1789. Two other fragments are in Naples and a fourth is in Paris. The Head of an Angel was acquired by Conte Paolo Tosio in Florence in the early 1820s. The angel's wings had been painted out, and the panel was described as a 'Portrait of a Young Man'. In 1912, the German Raphael scholar Oskar Fischel identified the 'portrait' as a fragment of the Città di Castello altarpiece. This identification was confirmed when the overpaint was removed in a restoration carried out in 1912-13 by the celebrated Milanese painter-restorer Luigi Cavenaghi. Even critics who have been reluctant to recognise Raphael’s authorship of the other fragments of the altarpiece have generally accepted the Angel as his work. The picture was restored again in 1983. While there are paint losses around the edges of the panel, the face of the angel is quite well preserved.
'Madonna dei Garofani'. Wood, 31 x 24.
Like the Salvator Mundi, this equally small panel was acquired by Paolo Tosio in 1821 from the Mosca family of Pesaro. It is almost identical in size and composition to the version, formerly in the collection of the Duke of Northumberland, that was recently identified as Raphael's original and subsequently acquired by the National Gallery, London. It is possibly a workshop replica, executed by an assistant from the master's drawings or cartoon. It is currently exhibited in the Museo di Santa Giulia at Brescia. There are many old copies. (One formerly in the collection of Félix Lachovski at Paris was auctioned in New York as a work of Raphael for $60,000 in 1939. Another, formerly in the collection of Count Spada at Lucca (sold at Christie's in October 2016), was also sometimes attributed to Raphael himself in the early twentieth century.)
Budapest. Museum of Fine Arts.
*‘Esterházy Madonna’. Wood, 29 x 21.
In a pyramidal composition, the kneeling Virgin supports the Christ Child on a rock on the right, while the little St John kneels on the left examining a scroll. The ruins of the ancient Forum of Nerva and the campanile of San Basilio are shown in the background. The small panel is unfinished – particularly the flesh parts, where the underdrawing is clearly visible – but unusually well preserved. It probably dates from the end of Raphael's Florentine period (about 1508). According to an inscription once on the back, it was given by Pope Clement XI to Empress Elisabeth, wife of Charles III. She gave it to Prince Kaunitz, from whom it was acquired by Prince Esterházy before 1812. The Esterházy collection was bought by the Hungarian State in 1870. A full-size compositional drawing for the painting is preserved in the Uffizi; the figures correspond almost exacly, but the landscape is different and omits the Roman ruins.
Portrait of a Young Man. Wood, 54 x 39.
Also from the famous Esterházy collection, where it was described as a portrait of Raphael by Bernardino Luini. The attribution to Raphael, as one of his earliest attempts at portraiture, was made by Passavant in his pioneering 1860 monograph. It has not been accepted by all modern critics. Once considered a self-portrait, it has more recently been identified as the portrait of Pietro Bembo seen by Marcantonio Michiel in about 1532 in Bembo’s studiolo in Padua. However, Bembo would have been in his mid-thirties around 1507, when his portrait was painted by Raphael during a visit to Urbino, whereas the sitter seems much younger. (The sitter also bears little resemblance to certain portraits of Bembo, by Titian and others, which show him with a distinctive long thin nose.) Both the portrait and the Esterházy Madonna were among seven Italian paintings stolen from the museum in November 1983. They were discovered three months later in an abandoned Greek convent near Aigio.
Chantilly. Musée Condé.
*The Three Graces. Canvas, 17 x 17.
The composition is taken (directly or indirectly) from a famous Roman copy of a Hellenistic marble group, which was found in the fifteenth century and is now in the Piccolomini Library in Siena Cathedral. The golden apples the nudes are holding (added apparently at the final stage of the painting) seem to identify them as Hesperides. The Knight’s Dream (National Gallery, London) is the same size as the Three Graces, and like it was first recorded in the Borghese collection in 1650. The two exquisite miniature works could originally have formed a diptych or the front and back of the same picture, or served as the covers for a pair of portraits, or simply been kept as precious objects in a box, leather case, cloth bag or drawer. Their date has been much debated: recent opinions range from about 1502 to 1505-6. They could have been painted for the court at Urbino (perhaps for the young Francesco Maria della Rovere, the future duke). The Three Graces left the Borghese collection in Napoleonic times, passing first into the hands of the French administrator Henri Reboul and then the London collections of the portrait painter Thomas Lawrence and the wealthy landowner William Ward, Earl of Dudley. It was acquired by the Duke d’Aumale in 1885 for the huge price of 600,000 francs..
*‘Orléans Madonna’. Wood, 29 x 21.
So called because it was once in the collection of the Duc d'Orléans at the Palais-Royal in Paris. The Virgin is seated in a room, and behind her head is a shelf with pots and bottles. The exquisite little panel is a work of the Florentine period (about 1506-7) and is exceptionally well preserved. It is sometimes identified with a tabuleto Fiorentino mentioned in a letter of 25 October 1507 from the painter Gian Martino Spanzotti to Carlo II, Duke of Savoy, and also with a Madonna attributed to Raphael in a 1631 inventory of the Ducal collection in the Castello at Turin. A Turin provenance is made the more plausible by the existence of many early Piedmontese copies. The painting was in France by the early eighteenth century and, along with other pictures from the Orléans collection, was sent to London for sale during the French Revolution. After changing hands several times, it returned to France, where it was bought by the Duc d’Aumale in 1869. The sixteenth-century Piedmontese copies include one dated 1526 by Defendente Ferrari (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam) and at least four by Gerolamo Giovenone.
‘Madonna di Loreto’. Wood, 120 x 90.
The Virgin, standing behind the bed holding a transparent veil, looks tenderly down at the Child, who lies back against his pillows and reaches playfully towards her. X-rays suggest that the figure of Joseph, leaning on his staff on the right, is a later addition (though probably by Raphael’s own hand). Raphael painted the original of this composition in about 1509-11. It is uncertain whether Pope Julius II himself commissioned the painting, but it is first recorded, together with Raphael’s portrait of Julius II (now in London), in the Pope's favourite church of Santa Maria del Popolo at Rome, where it was displayed hanging against a pillar during religious festivals. The original disappeared from view after the sixteenth century. It is called the Madonna di Loreto because a copy (perhaps the version now in the Louvre) was bequeathed to the Basilica at Loreto and acquired considerable fame in the eighteenth century as Raphael’s original. There are some thirty-five other versions. One, now in the Museum of Fine Arts at Nizhny Tagil (Russia), bears the date 1509. Another was acquired by the Getty Museum in 1938 from the French royal family in exile.
The Chantilly version, formerly ascribed to Giovanni Francesco Penni, was claimed as the lost original when it was cleaned in the late 1970s. There was some scepticism at first; but recent technical analysis and research into the picture’s provenance suggests that the Chantilly version is indeed the original. It appears that the originals of both the Madonna di Loreto and the Portrait of Julius II were taken from Santa Maria del Popolo in 1591 by Cardinal Emilio Sfrondrata, nephew of the then Pope, Gregory XIV, who made a paltry donation of 100 scudi to the church in compensation. They were then among seventy-one pictures sold by Cardinal Sfrondrata to Cardinal Scipione Borghese in 1608. The Madonna di Loreto was bought by Alexander Day in Rome in 1801, and then owned by Ferdinand IV, King of Naples. It came to Chantilly when it was inherited by the Duc d’Aumale from his father-in-law the Prince of Salerno.
Città di Castello. Pinacoteca.
*Processional Banner. Canvas, 166 x 94.
The banner is all that remains of Raphael’s work in Città di Castello – the city where Raphael started his career and for which he painted three altarpieces between 1499 and 1504. One side shows the Trinity with St Sebastian and St Roch and the other the Creation of Eve. Badly damaged (presumably as a result of being carried in street processions), extensive paint losses leaving the bare canvas showing through. The banner is not documented, but has been attributed to Raphael as possibly his earliest independent work. Sebastian and Roch were saints invoked in time of plague, and the banner could have been commissioned as an ex voto in 1499 when an outbreak of the plague is recorded in Città di Castello. However, rather later datings have also been proposed. The banner is first mentioned in 1627 in the church of Santa Trinità, and was moved to the Palazzo Pubblico in Città di Castello in 1855. A restoration in 1952 attempted to remove all repaint, exposing the extensive losses. Some infilling was done during a 2021 restoration, but most losses remain visible.
A black chalk study for the drapery of the figure of God the Father in the Creation of Eve is preserved at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. On the same sheet of paper, Raphael copied one of the archers from Signorelli's altarpiece of the Martyrdom of St Sebastian (originally in the church of San Domenico at Città di Castello).
**‘Sistine Madonna’. Canvas, 265 x 196.
This famous picture, the most celebrated of all Raphael’s altarpieces, is from the church of the Benedictine monastery of San Sisto at Piacenza. It was probably promised to the church by Julius II in recognition of the assistance given to him by Piacenza in his war against the French. St Sixtus (the third-century Pope Sixtus II) was patron saint of the della Rovere family and wears a cope patterned with the acorns and oak leaves of their family emblem. He (allegedly) has the features of Julius. A papal crown stands on the balustrade. The female saint is Barbara. The church possessed relics of both saints. Raphael seems to have used the sitter of the Donna Velata in the Uffizi as the model for the Madonna. The two child angels leaning reflectively on the balustrade are often reproduced in isolation in popular prints. The picture is undocumented, but cannot have been painted much after Julius’s death on 21 February 1513. It is unusual for such a large picture by Raphael to have been painted on canvas; there have been theories that it was painted as a standard or as a velarium (screen) to be placed over Julius’s bier, but there is no evidence that it was intended as anything other than an altarpiece. It remained over the high altar of the church at Piacenza until 1753, when it was purchased by Augustus III, Elector of Saxony, through Giovanni Battista Bianconi, a Bolognese historian and art dealer. The price was then the highest ever paid for a painting. (Bianconi paid the friars 24,000 Roman scudi and billed Augustus III for 25,000.) The picture was transported across the alps in the depths of winter – a journey that took six weeks. When it arrived at the royal palace, Augustus is said to have left his throne so that the picture could be placed in front of it.
Apart from a brief mention in Vasari's Lives, the picture was hardly noticed during the 250-odd years it remained in its original location in Piacenza. It owed its subsequent great fame to the German Romantics of the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder's Outpourings of an Art-Loving Friar (1797) promulgated the legend that the Madonna had appeared to Raphael in a vision.
The picture was taken to Russia in 1945 but returned to Dresden in 1955. It is in good condition for an altarpiece by Raphael.
Edinburgh. National Gallery of Scotland (on loan from the Duke of Sutherland).
*‘Bridgewater Madonna’. Wood (transferred), 82 x 57.
Named after the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, who acquired most of his superb collection of Italian pictures in 1798 when the Orléans collection was sold in London. Opinion has been divided as to whether it is a Florentine or early Roman work. The composition, with the unusually large Child twisting in the Virgin’s lap, is related to Michelangelo’s marble Taddeo Tondo of about 1504 (now in the Royal Academy, London). Transferred from panel to canvas in the eighteenth century when in the Orléans collection; now mounted onto a synthetic support, it is somewhat damaged and restored, but the Virgin’s face and draperies are in good condition. X-rays have revealed that Raphael had originally planned a landscape background and then a window with a landscape view, which were later transformed into the present dark plain background with just a niche and light brown shutter on the right. The picture was already in France (in the collection of the Marquis de Seignelay) in the seventeenth century, but its earlier provenance has not been traced.
*Holy Family with a Palm Tree. Canvas (transferred), 102 in dia.
The Virgin, sitting on a wellhead or fountain, supports the Child on her right knee with a scarf, as he takes flowers from the kneeling Joseph. Usually dated around 1506-7, it has been suggested that this large tondo may be one of two works mentioned by Vasari as painted for Taddeo Taddei in Florence, but there is no hard evidence for this. In good condition for a transferred picture, with only minor paint losses. It was in Paris by the mid-seventeenth century. Along with the other Raphaels at Edinburgh, it was acquired by the 3rd Duke of Bridgwater from the Orléans collection. The Bridgewater pictures were formerly housed in London (from the mid-nineteenth century in Charles Barry’s palatial Bridgewater House in Cleveland Row, facing onto Green Park). The loan to the National Gallery of Scotland was arranged in 1946.
‘Madonna del Passeggio’. Wood, 90 x 63.
The painting illustrates the popular legend that St John and Christ met as children when the Holy Family was returning from Egypt. The traditional attribution to Raphael was first doubted in 1839 by Passavant, who suggested that the execution might be by Gianfrancesco Penni from a lost design by Raphael. This idea has been supported by a number of later critics, and the picture has been dated between 1515 and 1519, when Penni was working as an assistant to Raphael on the cartoons for the Vatican tapestries and the Loggia frescoes. It was given by Philip IV of Spain to Queen Christina of Sweden, and was in the Orléans collection from 1721 to 1798. There are paint losses along the vertical join in the panel that runs through the Virgin’s left shoulder, but the painting is otherwise in good condition.
*‘Madonna del Cardellino’. Wood, 107 x 77.
The Child reaches out to stroke a goldfinch (cardellino, symbol of his future Passion) held by the infant John. Vasari tells us that the picture was painted for the rich Florentine wool merchant Lorenzo Nasi (1485-1547), shortly after his marriage to Sandra di Matteo Canigiani. It probably hung in the camera or bedchamber of their house in Costa San Giorgio. It is likely to date from 1505-6, and is one of a number of larger-scale pyramidal Madonna compositions (others are the ‘Madonna of the Meadow’ in Vienna, the ‘Belle Jardinière’ in the Louvre and the ‘Madonna Canigiani’ in Munich) that probably derive from Leonardo’s cartoons of the Madonna and Child with St Anne.
The picture was terribly damaged during a landslide on 12 November 1547 (Vasari says 17 November 1548), when the Nasi house collapsed. The panel was broken into three separate pieces and cracked in ten other places. The pieces were joined together with glue and nails, and restored (possibly by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio or his pupil Michele di Ridolfo Ghirlandaio). The picture entered the Medici collections in 1666 with the inheritance of Carlo de’ Medici. Some 450 years after the first restoration, a long and careful restoration – beginning in 1999 and completed in 2008– sealed the old fractures and took the surface back to the original varnish, removing centuries of yellowish brown film and grime.
*Portrait of Pope Leo X. Wood, 154 x 119.
The short-sighted Pope, Raphael’s great patron, has just examined an old illuminated manuscript with his magnifying glass. (The manuscript, with miniatures of the Passion and the opening words of St John's Gospel perfectly legible, has been identified as a page from the fourteenth-century 'Hamilton Bible', which was produced in the workshop of Cristoforo Orimina for the Angevin court at Naples and is now preserved in the Berlin Museum of Prints and Drawings.) To his right is Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, later Pope Clement VII; behind the chair is Cardinal Luigi de’ Rossi, the grandson of Piero the Gouty. The portrait must have been painted in Rome after July 1517, when de’ Rossi was made a cardinal. It was sent to Florence in 1518, when it was set up at a table at a banquet to celebrate the marriage of Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, and Madeleine de la Tours d’Auvergne. Giulio Romano told Vasari that he collaborated on the portrait. (He may have painted the two cardinals. There is, however, no technical evidence to support the idea that the two cardinals were not part of the original composition and were added later.) The picture underwent a thorough cleaning and technical examination over a twelve-year period ending in 1995. Another major restoration was begun in autumn 2017 and completed in 2020.
An old copy in Naples is probably the one mentioned by Vasari as painted by Andrea del Sarto for Ottaviano de' Medici and sent to Federico Gonzaga in Mantua. Vasari also mentions a copy painted by Giuliano Bugiardini for the Pope's nephew, Cardinal Innocenzo Cybo. This version (which replaces the figure of Luigi de' Rossi with that of Cybo) now hangs in the Galleria Corsini in Rome.
Self-Portrait. Wood, 45 x 33.
Much restored, badly abraded and possibly unfinished. The sitter, wearing a black cap and a doublet, appears to be in his early twenties. When the picture came, with the inheritance of Vittoria della Rovere, to Florence from Urbino in 1631, it was already described as a self-portrait by Raphael. Its authenticity has been usually accepted, though a few modern critics have been sceptical. (For example, Wagner (1969) suggested that it is a copy, in reverse, of Raphael’s self-portrait in the School of Athens.) X-rays show elaborate underdrawing similar to that found in some early portrait drawings by Raphael.
Portrait of Elisabetta Gonzaga. Wood, 53 x 37.
The name of the sitter is written on the back of the panel. Elisabetta Gonzaga (1471-1526) was the youngest daughter of Federico Gongaza, Marchese of Mantua, and his German wife, Margarete of Wittelsbach. She married Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, in 1489 but remained childless. This frontal, almost mask-like portrait came to Florence with the della Rovere pictures in 1631 as a work of Mantegna. It has been attributed in the past to Bonsignori (Crowe and Cavalcaselle), Carotto (Morelli) and the School of Francia (Venturi). It is now usually accepted as a work of Raphael, but there is disagreement on dating, with some critics considering it one of Raphael’s earliest portraits (about 1500-2) and others a Florentine work of about 1506. It was recently suggested (by the late John Shearman) that the portrait was painted for Baldassare Castiglione (the Duchess’s secret lover) to take to London in 1506.
Portrait of a Young Man with an Apple (Francesco Maria della Rovere?). Wood, 47 x 35.
He seems no older than fifteen or sixteen, with smooth cheeks, sharp features, tight thin lips and shoulder-length, straight dark brown hair. His coat of rich red velvet is embroidered with gold squares and has a lining and collar of thick brown fur. The golden apple he holds on the green surface in front of him could have various connotations (purity, perfection, beauty, love, knowledge or power). Alternatively, the apple could allude to the name of the sitter or his family. The portrait came to Florence with the della Rovere inheritance: the 1631 inventory lists the picture, but identifies neither the artist nor sitter. The portrait, once ascribed to Francia, was first attributed to Raphael by the German art historian Georg Gronau (Rivista d'Arte (1912)). Gronau identified the sitter as the teenage Francesco Maria della Rovere – the nephew and heir of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, whom he succeeded as Duke of Urbino in 1508. The identification is conjectural, but the attribution to Raphael is now generally accepted. The portrait is usually dated about 1504-6. It was transferred to the Uffizi from the Pitti Palace in 1928.
Portrait of Guidobaldo I da Montefeltro. Wood, 71 x 50.
The sitter is identified by comparison with a portrait in an illuminated manuscript. Guidobaldo da Montefeltro (1472-1508) was the sickly but cultivated son of Federico da Montefeltro, whom he succeeded as Duke of Urbino in 1482. The portrait was ascribed to Giacomo Francia in the 1631 inventory of the della Rovere pictures. The attribution to Raphael was first proposed in 1905 (by the French art critic Emile Durand-Gréville in La Revue de L'Art Ancien et Moderne). It is disputed.
Saint John the Baptist. Canvas, 165 x 147.
The athletic boy Baptist, nude except for a leopold skin draped around his left arm and over his right thigh, points towards the top of a tall reed cross, which glows with divine light. The scroll in his left hand is inscribed with the word 'DEI' (from 'ECCE AGNUS DEI'). The spring of water, now just visible in the dark left background, alludes to baptism. The large canvas is a late Roman work (around 1517-18). It was commissioned by Cardinal Pompeo Colonna, who gave it as a present to his physician, Jacopo da Carpi. after his recovery from a serious illness. In Vasari’s day the picture was owned by Francesco Benintendi in Florence, and by 1589 it had entered the Medici collections. The picture was once one of Raphael's most celebrated paintings; but since the publication in 1839 of Passavant's pioneering monograph, it has been usual to ascribe the execution to workshop assistants (Giulio Romano or/and Giovanni Francesco Penni). The picture is not well preserved. It was moved to the Accademia in 1954 but returned to the Tribuna of the Uffizi in 1970. There are many old copies.
Portrait of Pope Julius II. Wood, 108 x 80.
Long regarded as Raphael’s original, but probably a studio replica of the portrait in the National Gallery, London. It came to Florence from Urbino in 1631 with the inheritance of Vittoria della Rovere. At the Uffizi since 1704.
*‘Madonna del Granduca’. Wood, 85 x 56.
This classical Madonna was purchased in 1799 for 300 secchini by Grand Duke Ferdinand III; it is said to have been discovered in the house of a poor Tuscan widow. It was taken to Austria, where the Habsburg Grand Duke lived in exile, and was brought back to Florence on his return in 1815. It was exhibited in the Pitti from 1828, and immediately became one of Raphael’s most popular Madonnas. It is usually dated about 1504-6. The black background conceals an overpainted landscape (X-rays have detected a balustrade running behind the Madonna and Child, with architecture above).
*Portrait of Agnolo Doni. Wood, 63 x 45.
Agnolo Doni was the rich merchant who commissioned the Uffizi Holy Family (‘Tondo Doni’) from Michelangelo. The portrait, and the one of his wife Maddalena, probably date from about 1505-7. They were painted on limewood from the same tree, and may have formed a diptych. They were probably kept, along with Michelangelo's tondo, in the couple's bridal chamber, which was decorated with elaborate furnishings made by the woodworker Francesco del Tasso. Vasari saw the portraits in the house of Agnolo’s son Giovanbattista, and they remained in the Doni family until 1826, when the last descendants sold them to Grand Duke Leopoldo II.
*Portrait of Maddalena Doni. Wood, 63 x 45.
Maddalena, daughter of Giovanni Strozzi, married Agnolo Doni at the age of fifteen in January 1504. She was ten years Agnolo’s junior and, plump and round-shouldered, must have been still in her teens when the portrait was painted. Her pose – with the left arm resting on the arm of the seat and the right hand lying lightly over the left hand and wrist – reflects Leonardo’s nearly contemporary Mona Lisa. X-rays have revealed that Raphael’s original intention was to portray Maddalena inside a room with a window rather than against a landscape background. On the backs of the panels are monochrome depictions by another hand (the ‘Maestro di Serumido’?) of scenes from Ovid’s myth of Deucalion and Pyrrha (the flood sent by Zeus to punish mankind on the back of Agnolo’s portrait and Deucalion and Pyrrha throwing stones over their shoulders on the back of Maddalena’s). Deucalion and Pyrrha repopulated the earth after the flood, and the fecundity theme had significance for the couple, who suffered several miscarriages before the birth of their first child in September 1507.
*‘La Donna Gravida’. Wood, 66 x 52.
Renaissance portraits of pregnant women are rare. One hand rests on her bump and the other holds a pair of gloves (an emblem of status). The portrait was unattributed when it entered the Medici collections in 1666 with the inheritance of Carlo de’ Medici. The attribution to Raphael was made by Johann Passavant in his pioneering 1839 German monograph on the painter. It was doubted by Crowe and Cavalcaselle (who favoured Ridolfo Ghirlandaio), but has long been universally accepted. Painted in Florence around 1505-7.
*‘La Donna Velata’. Canvas, 85 x 64.
The classically beautiful young woman, sumptuously dressed in a white satin gown trimmed with gold, places her right hand on her heart in a gesture of devotion or love and looks out at the viewer with disarming directness. The picture takes its popular name from the cream-coloured veil she wears over her dark chestnut hair. It is usually identified with the 'most beautiful portrait' seen by Vasari in the possession of the Florentine merchant Matteo Botti. Vasari describes the sitter as one of Raphael’s mistresses, but she appears from her costume more likely to be a Roman lady of somes means, perhaps dressed in her wedding finery. The veil suggests she is married, and her amber necklace may allude to fertility and conception. Curiously, the jewel adorning her hair (a ruby and sapphire set in gold with a dangling pearl) appears to be the same as that worn by La Fornarina in the blatantly erotic portrait at Rome (Galleria Nazionale). Both paintings – though very different in character – have been associated with the romantic story of Raphael's legendary model and mistress, the baker's daughter, whom the artist supposedly loved until his dying day.
The portrait has been typically dated between 1512-3 and around 1516, and the sitter’s features have been seen in a number of Raphael’s famous Roman Madonnas (including the ‘Sistine Madonna’ and the ‘Madonna della Sedia’). The last of Botti’s descendants, finding himself in financial difficulty, left the picture to Grand Duke Cosimo II in 1619 in exchange for repayment of his debts and it has hung in the Pitti Palace ever since. Astonishingly, its authenticity was once doubted, and the attribution was only firmly established by Morelli in the 1880s.
*‘Madonna della Sedia’ (or 'Madonna della Seggiola'). Wood, 71 in dia.
The Virgin, dressed in a striped headscarf and green embroidered shawl rather than the usual blue mantle and veil, is shown from the side seated in a chair (sedia or seggiola). She holds the Child in her arms, while the little St John appears on the right with clasped hands and a tiny cross. This famous Madonna, reproduced in countless engravings, belongs to Raphael’s Roman period and is usually dated about 1513-14. It may have been painted for Giovanni de’ Medici (Pope Leo X), and is recorded in the Medici collections as early as 1589, hanging in the Tribuna of the Uffizi. Cracks affecting the St John and the fringe on the Child’s face were probably caused by an accident in the early seventeenth century, when a miniature painter obtained permission to borrow it to make a copy, and it smashed to the floor when it was being taken from the wall. The popular story that it was painted on the bottom of a wine barrel seems to date back only to 1820, when it appeared in a German children’s book by Ernst von Houwald. The story inspired Raphael's First Sketch of the 'Madonna della Sedia', a painting by the German Nazarene artist Johann Michael Wittner, which was bought by Prince Albert in 1853 and is still at Osborne House.
*The Vision of Ezekiel. Wood, 40 x 30.
The ‘rare and beautiful’ little picture seen by Vasari in the house of Conte Vincenzo Ercolano in Bologna of ‘Christ in Glory, in the manner of Jove, surrounded by the four Evangelists as they are described by Ezekiel: one in the form of a man, the other a lion, the third an eagle, and the fourth an ox’. In the bottom left corner, a shaft of light falls on the tiny figure experiencing the vision (usually assumed to be the Prophet Ezekiel but possibly St John on Patmos). A late Roman work of about 1516-18 (Vasari says that it was painted after the Bologna Saint Cecilia). The execution has often been ascribed to Giulio Romano and occasionally to Gianfrancesco Penni, but there has been a recent tendency to accept the picture as wholly autograph. The little panel probably came to Florence in 1574-79, when Ercolano’s younger brother Agostino was ambassador to the Medici court; by 1589, it was hanging in the Tribuna of the Uffizi.
There is a huge tapestry copy of the painting in Madrid (Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas). The tapestry, woven in the Brussels workshop of Pieter van Aelst, was part of a set (Letto de Paramento) commissioned around 1521 to adorn the Pope's ornamental state bed.
*‘Madonna del Baldacchino’. Wood, 277 x 224.
The Virgin and Child are enthroned under a canopy (or baldacchino), the curtains of which are held up by two flying angels. On the left stand St Bernard and St Peter, and on the right St Anthony Abbot and St Augustine. The picture is Raphael’s only large altarpiece commissioned in Florence. According to Vasari, it was painted for the Dei family chapel in the church of Santo Spirito, but was left unfinished when Raphael went to Rome at the end of 1508. The unfinished painting was acquired by Baldassare (Turini) da Pescia, an official in the papal chancellery, who placed it in his family chapel in the cathedral at Pescia. It was acquired by the Grand Prince Ferdinando de' Medici for the considerable sum of 10,000 scudi, taken secretly from the church on 7 September 1697, and substituted by a copy. The copy, made by the Florentine Baroque painter Pietro Dandini, remains in the church (last chapel on the right). After its acquisition by the Medici, Raphael's altarpiece was enlarged at the top by the court painter Niccolò Cassana, who added the strip, about a foot wide, with the top of the canopy and coffered semi-dome. The picture was taken to Paris by Napoleon and recovered in 1815.
It had been often suspected that another painter had worked on the picture after Raphael's death, adding the architectural background and perhaps also the two flying angels and the two saints on the right. But evidence gathered during restoration in 1987-90 suggests that, apart from the extension at the top, the picture remains very much as Raphael left it. The architectural setting is original and was doubtless intended to blend with Brunelleschi’s church interior.
‘Madonna dell’Impannata’. Wood, 160 x 126.
The identities of the two female saints on the left are uncertain. The older is called Anne by Vasari, but is sometimes now identified as Elizabeth. The younger, wearing an unusual headdress with a chinstrap, is usually called Catherine of Alexandra, but is possibly Bridget of Sweden. The picture was commissioned in Rome around 1513-14 by the Florentine banker Bindo Altoviti (whose portrait by Raphael is in Washington). The composition is Raphael’s, but the execution is probably by his studio. X-rays have revealed that the young St John on the right was painted over a St Joseph or St Joachim holding an infant St John in his arms. The window in the corner covered with linen (‘impannata’) gives the picture its name. The picture was confiscated from Altoviti by Cosimo I after the conspiracy of 1552 and installed on the altar of the chapel in the new apartments, decorated by Vasari, of the Palazzo Vecchio. It was displayed in the Tribuna of the Uffizi from 1589 and transferred to the Pitti Palace in 1697. There were restorations in 1984 and 2015-17. There is a metalpoint drawing for the principal group (the Virgin and Child and two female saints) at Windsor.
*Portrait of Tommaso (‘Fedra’) Inghirami. Wood, 90 x 62.
Tommaso Inghirami (1470-1516) came from a patrician Volterran family that had supported the Medici. Nicknamed ‘Fedra’ on account of his spirited rendering of the role of Phaedra in Seneca’s Hippolytus, he was a poet and teacher of rhetoric. The portrait shows him as a corpulent forty-year old, wearing the red cap and robe of a Canon of St Peter's Basilica, seated at his writing desk and gazing upwards as if searching for words to express his thoughts. It may have been painted in 1510, when he was appointed librarian to the Vatican, or in 1513, when he was secretary to the papal conclave that elected Leo X. It is not known how the portrait entered the Medici collections. It is sometimes said to have been given by the sitter to Leo X. But there is no hard evidence for this, and the portrait is first certainly recorded in the 1663-66 inventory of Leonardo de' Medici's collection. Another version of the portrait, formerly in the Palazzo Inghirami at Volterra, was acquired in 1898 by Isabella Stewart Gardner and is now in the Gardner Museum at Boston. From the late nineteenth century, many writers – following Giovanni Morelli and Bernard Berenson – took the view that the Volterra/Boston version was Raphael's original and that the portrait at the Pitti was a studio replica or old copy. Since the 1980s, the primacy of the Boston version has been questioned. The catalogue of the 1984 exhibition Raphael at Florence cited technical evidence in support of the authenticity of the Pitti version, and Giovanni Batistini (August 1996 Burlington Magazine) published evidence from the Inghirami archives to suggest that the Boston version could be a seventeenth-century copy.
Portrait of Cardinal Bibbiena. Canvas, 85 x 66.
Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena (1470-1520) was Lorenzo the Magnificent’s tutor as a boy, and was made a cardinal in 1513 by Leo X. He was a close friend of Raphael in Rome. Vasari says that he kept pestering Raphael to get married and offered him his niece’s hand in marriage. Raphael continued to put off the wedding, and Bibbiena’s niece, Maria, died before him. She is buried next to him in the Pantheon with an inscription stating that she died a virgin. The portrait is recorded in 1637 in the collection of Cardinal Giancarlo de' Medici, who was probably given it by the Dovizi family at Bibbiena. It is usually dated around 1516, when Raphael's workshop decorated the Cardinal's stufetta (bathroom) in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. Its authenticity, however, has sometimes been doubted. Raphael rarely used canvas as a support.
Frankfurt. Staedel Museum.
Portrait of Pope Julius II. Wood, 106 x 78.
One of some dozen versions of this celebrated portrait. Raphael's original, which was painted in Rome in 1511-12, is almost certainly the version in the National Gallery, London. A version in the Uffizi is probably a studio replica of it and a version in the Pitti Palace is probably a copy by Titian. A version in the Borghese Gallery was once ascribed to Giulio Romano. The Frankfurt museum acquired its version from a German collector in December 2011 and, on the evidence of pentimenti revealed by X-rays, has attributed it to 'Raphael and workshop'. Just four years before, the picture had been put up for auction in Vienna as the work of an 'imitator' and had failed to sell at an estimate of only 8,000 euros.
Lisbon. National Museum.
*Legend of St Jerome. Wood, 25 x 42.
This panel and its companion at Raleigh show miracles performed by St Jerome’s followers in combating heresy. In the Lisbon picture, St Eusebius of Cremona uses Jerome’s cloak to bring back to life three young men, who by telling of their experiences of heaven, purgatory and hell disprove the heretics’ denial of life after death. As first suggested in 1908 (by Gronau), the two panels belonged to the predella of the Mond Crucifixion, painted in 1503 for the Gavari family chapel (dedicated to St Jerome) in the church of San Domenico at Città di Castello and now in the National Gallery, London. The predella, which is not mentioned by Vasari, must have contained at least one other scene. It appears to have been separated from the main panel in the seventeenth century (according to one account it was given by the monks of San Domenico to Cardinal Bevilacqua; according to another it was presented in 1668 to Cardinal Rasponi). The Lisbon panel was acquired by the Academy in 1859. The two surviving predella panels (displayed together at exhibitions at London in 2004-5 and New York in 2006) are now very different in condition and appearance – the Raleigh panel rigorously cleaned and the Lisbon panel much darker.
London. National Gallery.
*'Mond Crucifixion'. Wood, 281 x 165.
Signed in silver at the bottom of the cross. Vasari justly says of this very early work: ‘if Raphael’s name were not written on it, everyone would think it was by Pietro [Perugino]’. The figures of St John the Evangelist (on the right), the Magdalen ((left) and the Virgin are all particularly close to those in Perugino’s altarpiece commissioned in 1502 for San Francesco al Monte in Perugia (and now in the gallery there), while the kneeling St Jerome was probably taken from Perugino’s Pala Tezi of 1500 (also in the Perugia gallery). The flying angels’ catching Christ’s blood in chalices alludes to the wine of the Eucharist. Above the arms of the cross, the sun and moon are rendered in gold and silver leaf and represented with human faces. The Crucifixion was commissioned by Domenico di Tommaso Gavari, a wool merchant, for his family chapel (to the right of the high altar) in the church of San Domenico at Città di Castello. An inscription on the stone frame, which is still in situ, gives the name of the donor and the date of 1503. The picture remained in the church until 1808, when it was sold for 2,500 scudi to Cardinal Fesch and replaced by a copy. It was later owned by the Earl of Dudley and by Ludwig Mond, who bequeathed it to the National Gallery in 1924. Two panels from the predella are at Lisbon and Raleigh. Paint losses along the vertical joins and splits in the panel are concealed by restoration.
*Allegory (‘The Knight’s Dream’). Wood, 17 x 17.
The young knight lies asleep upon his shield under a laurel tree between two young women. One (severely dressed and with her dark hair covered by a scarf) offers him a book and sword and the other (gaily dressed and with her fair hair loose) a spray of myrtle. The precise subject of the allegory is uncertain; but it is usually thought to refer to the choice between duty and pleasure, and is sometimes (as suggested by Panofsky in 1930) thought to illustrate a passage in a rare Latin poem, the Punica of Silius Italicus, in which Scipio dreams that he is the subject of a contest between virtus and voluptas. A rather different interpretation is that the young women do not represent conflicting paths but rather the different ideals – those of a scholar (symbolised by the book), a soldier (the sword) and a lover (the spray of myrtle) – to which the young man should aspire. As pointed out by Cecil Gould (December 1978 Burlington Magazine), the landscape composition – with the central tree, the hilltop monastery in the left distance and the low bridge spanning the river – seems to derive from Botticelli's Cestello Annunciation (Uffizi).
When the picture was recorded in the Borghese collection in 1650, it had as its pendant the Three Graces, now in Chantilly. The two tiny panels have sometimes been regarded as very early works (about 1502), but have also been dated about 1504 or even 1505-6. The ‘Knight’s Dream’ was acquired in Rome by William Young Ottley in 1798, and later belonged to the painter Sir Thomas Lawrence. It was bought by the National Gallery in 1847 for 1,000 guineas. The cartoon, pricked for transfer, was acquired at the same time as the painting and once exhibited beside it in the National Gallery; it was transferred to the British Museum in 1994.
*Procession to Calvary. Wood, 24 x 85.
The central panel of the predella of the Colonna Altarpiece, painted in about 1504-5 for the convent of Sant’Antonio at Perugia. The other predella panels are divided between the Dulwich Gallery in London, the Gardner Museum in Boston and the Metropolitan Museum in New York (which also has the main panel of the altarpiece and the lunette). All five predella panels were bought from the convent by Queen Christina of Sweden in 1663 and remained together until the dispersal of the Orléans collection at the end of the eighteenth century. For much of the nineteenth century, the Procession to Calvary was in the collection of the Miles family at Leigh Court, near Bristol, where it hung next to Giorgione's Adoration of the Magi (also now in the National Gallery). It was bought by the National Gallery in 1913 from the Earl of Plymouth. Unlike some other parts of the predella, the panel may be basically autograph (although an inferior hand has often been seen, for example, in the very wooden brown horse leading the procession). The group on the extreme left of the fainting Virgin supported by the three Maries resembles that in the Deposition, begun by Filippino Lippi and finished by Perugino, from SS. Annunziata (now in the Accademia, Florence). The paint surface is somewhat worn in places (eg. Christ has lost his crown of thorns).
*Ansidei Altarpiece. Wood, 239 x 156.
The Virgin and Child are seated on a high throne under an arch. On the left, John the Baptist gazes at the top of the long crystal cross he holds and points his finger at the Christ Child. On the right, Nicholas of Bari, identified by the three gold balls resting at his feet, is absorbed in the book he is reading. Coral beads, a charm against evil, hang like rosaries from the canopy. The inscription ('SALVE MATER CHRISTI') across the top of the throne invites the worshipper to say a 'Hail Mary'. Dated 1505 (or 1506?) in decorative gold letters on the hem of the Madonna’s mantle. The altarpiece was painted for the Ansidei Chapel – a side chapel dedicated to St Nicholas on the right of the nave – in the church of San Fiorenzo in Perugia. The patron was probably the wool merchant Niccolò Ansidei, whose name saint and that of his son (Giovanni Battista) are depicted in the picture. The altarpiece had a predella. The one surviving scene – the Baptist Preaching – is also now in the National Gallery.
The altarpiece seems to have been bought from the Servite friars by Colin Morison, a Scottish painter and art dealer, in about 1768, when San Fiorenzo was being remodelled. A replacement copy, commissioned from Nicola Monti, a pupil of Pompeo Batoni, is still in the church. Morison shipped the altarpiece to England and sold it for £1,000 to Lord Robert Spencer. Spencer gave the main panel to his brother the Duke of Marlborough. It was at Blenheim Palace until 1885, when it was sold to the nation for £70,000, three times the highest price ever before paid for a painting. There are some paint losses along the vertical joins in the panel, but the picture is otherwise in excellent condition. The modern frame was made by a London firm (Dolman & Sons) and replicates Pietro Lombardo's design for the main portal of the Venetian church of San Giobbe.
*St John the Baptist Preaching. Wood, 26 x 53.
The Baptist, standing on a grassy mound, points towards Heaven as he addresses the crowd. A naked infant, frightened by his prophecies, clings to his father's leg and is comforted by his brother. The small horizintal panel is one of three predella scenes from the Ansidei Altarpiece; it was presumably on the left, beneath the figure of the saint in the main panel, who wears the same red robe and camel skin. The other two panels, St Nicholas saving the Lives of the Seafarers (on the right) and a central panel of the Marriage of the Virgin, remained in Italy (apparently because they were so badly damaged) when the altarpiece was sold from the church. They are now lost. The St John the Baptist Preaching was retained by Lord Spencer when the main panel was sold to the National Gallery. On his death, it was sold at Christie’s in 1901 to Lord Landsdowne, from whose heirs it was bought by the National Gallery in 1983. It was darkened by dirt and old varnish at the time of acquisition and cleaned before being put on display.
‘Madonna dei Garofani’, no. 6596. Wood, 29 x 23.
There are at least forty versions of this composition (the ‘Madonna of the Pinks’), which appears to have been inspired by Leonardo’s ‘Benois Madonna’ in the Hermitage. Until recently, none was accepted as autograph. But in 1991, after examination and cleaning, the National Gallery version – then in the Duke of Northumberland’s collection at Alnwick Castle – was presented (in an article by Nicholas Penny in the Burlington Magazine) as Raphael’s missing original. The tiny picture, hardly more than a foot high, is in pristine condition, with a more enamelled finish than is usual for Raphael. It has been dated around 1506-8, shortly before Raphael’s departure for Rome. There is an unsubstantiated tradition (reported in a nineteenth-century inventory) that it was painted for Maddalena degli Oddi, who commissioned Raphael’s Vatican Coronation. It was bought by Algernon, fourth Duke of Northumberland with the Camuccini collection in 1853. Evidence on the earlier provenance of the painting has been published very recently (see the articles by Patrizia Cavazzini and Pier Ludovico Puddu in the October 2018 Burlington Magazine). It seems that the picture was acquired by the painter and restorer Pietro Camuccini around 1813 from the Barberini in Rome, and that it had previously been in that family's possession since 1640.
The picture was placed on loan to the National Gallery in 1992 and bought for the nation for £22 million in 2004 – eighteenth months after the Duke of Northumberland had agreed to sell it to the Getty Museum in California for £35 million. The late American art historian James Beck was an outspoken critic of the Raphael attribution. (His controversial study From Duccio to Raphael: Connoisseurship in Crisis was published posthumously in 2007.) Another version of the Madonna of the Pinks, from Brescia, was included in the 2008 exhibition Firenze e Gli Antichi Paesi Bassi at the Pitti Palace as a work of Raphael’s workshop. The exhibition catalogue questioned the primacy of the National Gallery version, claiming that the underdrawing, revealed by X-rays, was not as fine as that of the Brescian version or as typical of Raphael’s Florentine period. The weight of opinion, however, heavily favours the National Gallery's painting as Raphael's original.
*Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Wood, 72 x 56.
The martyr, leaning on the wheel, turns in a sinuous pose to gaze rapturously up at the divine light in the heavens. This picture is thought to have been painted in about 1507-8, at the end of Raphael’s Florentine period or the beginning of his Roman period. Possibly the ‘figure of St Catherine by Raphael of Urbino’ owned in 1550 by Pietro Aretino; Aretino considered sending the picture to the Queen of France, Catherine de’ Medici, but ended up giving it to a Milanese banker, Agosto d’Adda. In the early seventeenth century the National Gallery picture was apparently owned by Cardinal Pier Paolo Cresenzi (whose family seal is on the back), and in 1650 it was hanging over a door in the Villa Borghese. Acquired during the Napoleonic invasion of Italy by Alexander Day, and bought (along with a Garofalo and Mazzolino) by the National Gallery in 1839 from William Beckford of Bath for the large sum of 7,000 guineas. The pricked cartoon is in the Louvre.
*‘Aldobrandini Madonna’ (or ‘Garvagh Madonna’), no. 744. Wood, 39 x 33.
The Child takes a carnation, symbol of his future Passion, from the little St John. A hazy landscape, with churches, a tower and distant blue mountains, is viewed through the two arched windows. The little panel is one of several small Madonnas painted during Raphael’s early years in Rome (1509-1512), probably for members of the papal court. The delicate pastel colours are very like those of the almost contemporary Alba Madonna at Washington. Recorded in 1787 in the apartments of Prince Aldobrandini in the Palazzo Borghese, and probably one of several Raphaels that came into Aldobrandini possession with the collection of Lucrezia d’Este (who died in 1598). It was acquired during the Napoleonic occupation of Italy by Alexander Day, an English painter of miniatures and art dealer, who sold it to George Canning, 1st Baron Garvagh in 1818. It was bought by the National Gallery from the 2nd Baron Garvagh in 1865 for the huge price of £9,000 (after Gladstone had refused to allow it to be bought for £8,000 in 1863). Occasional doubts about the painting’s authenticity were dispelled by cleaning in 1971. An early study for the poses of the Virgin and Child (metalpoint on pink tinted paper) is preserved in the Musée des Beaux-Arts at Lille.
*Pope Julius II. Wood, 108 x 87.
The portrait can be dated by the beard, which Julius grew after the loss of the city of Bologna in June 1511 and shaved off in March 1512. It is the prototype of the three-quarter length portrait of a pope seated in a chair, of which there are famous later examples by Sebastiano del Piombo (of Clement VII), Titian (of Paul III) and Velásquez (of Innocent X). According to an entry of September 1513 in the diary of the Venetian ambassador Marin Sanudo, the portrait had then recently been hung in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo at Rome, where it remained until 1591. It was seen there by Vasari, who described it as ‘so true and so lifelike, that the portrait caused all who saw it to tremble as if it had been the living man himself’.
From at least 1693 to 1794 (and possibly from 1608), the picture was in the Borghese collection. It was presumably sold or stolen during the Napoleonic upheavals, and is next recorded in 1823 in the London collection of John Julius Angerstein, which was bought for the new National Gallery in 1824. It was initially catalogued as a work of Raphael, but the attribution was soon abandoned, and the picture was long regarded as an early copy and a version in the Uffizi as the original. However pentimenti revealed in 1970 by cleaning (including the pattern of crossed keys and tiaras of the original background clearly now visible in the green curtain) and further research into the picture's provenance led to a reappraisal and the almost universal acceptance of the London version as Raphael's original. (James Beck (Artibus et Historiae (1996)) appears to have been the only art historian subsequently to question the primacy of the London version, which he called a workshop replica, possibly executed by Giovanni Francesco Penni.) Vasari mentions a copy by Titian, which is almost certainly a third version in the Pitti Palace. A fourth version was acquired in 2011 by the Staedel Museum, Frankfurt, which has attributed it to 'Raphael and workshop'. The Pope’s facial features in the National Gallery portrait correspond exactly with those in his portrait as Gregory IX in the fresco of the Decretals in the Stanza della Segnatura – suggesting that one was a replica of the other. In good condition, though over-cleaning has probably left the colours appearing brighter than originally intended.
It is disputed whether a red chalk sketch (preserved at Chatsworth) of the pope's head is a preparatory study by Raphael or a workshop copy. A full-scale drawing (preserved in the Galleria Corsini, Florence) was once often accepted as Raphael's original cartoon for the portrait, but is now usually considered a copy.
‘Mackintosh Madonna’, no. 2069. Canvas (transferred), 79 x 64.
Also known as the ‘Madonna of the Tower’ (visible in the left background). The picture (transferred from panel to canvas in the eighteenth century when in the Orléans collection) is extremely damaged and totally repainted. There are many other versions. The National Gallery picture is generally accepted as the original; but, because of its sorry state, it has been consigned to the reserve collection in the basement galleries. It is thought to date from Raphael’s early years in Rome (1509-11). From the Orléans collection, sold in London during the French Revolution, it passed through several English collections, including that of the banker-poet Samuel Rogers. Given to the National Gallery by Miss Eva Mackintosh in 1906. The pricked cartoon, which corresponds exactly in scale and composition, is in the British Museum. The cartoon seems to have been reused by Domenico Alfani for the Virgin and Child in an altarpiece painted in 1518 for the Collegio della Sapienza Vecchia (now in the Perugia gallery).
London. British Museum.
Massacre of the Innocents. Engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi. Paper, 28 x 43.
There is no record of any painting of this subject by Raphael, and it is assumed that he created this dramatic and complex composition expressly for an engraving. Half a dozen preliminary studies survive. The most complete of these is a pen and ink drawing at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. It includes all the figures, except the dead babies in the foreground, but excludes the bridge and the buildings in the background. Drawings in the British Museum (pen and ink) and at Windsor (red chalk) also correspond quite closely with the engraving, but include fewer figures. Raphael's design probably dates from around 1511-12. Marcantonio Raimondi appears to have engraved it twice. One version has a little fir tree in the right upper corner and the other does not. The British Museum has fine impressions of both versions.
London. Victoria and Albert Museum.
*The Raphael Cartoons. Between 310 x 390 and 340 x 530.
Seven of a set of ten cartoons – full-sized charcoal drawings coloured in gouache – commissioned by Pope Leo X for tapestries to hang on the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel beneath the fifteenth-century frescoes. They represent scenes in the lives of the Apostles Peter and Paul. The date of the commission is not known, but Raphael is recorded as receiving an interim payment on 15 June 1515 and final payment on 20 December 1516. His total fee was 1,000 ducats. The cartoons, designed and painted in Rome, were sent to the weaver Pieter van Aelst in Brussels, where they remained until 1573. In 1623 Prince Charles (later Charles I) heard of the cartoons in Genoa, and instructed Sir Francis Crane, manager of the Mortlake tapestry works, to buy them for £300. Only the existing seven cartoons entered the Royal Collection. The fate of the other three is unknown.
Each cartoon contains around 180 to 205 overlapping sheets of paper (each about 28 x 41 cm). They were cut into strips for the weavers (who placed the strips under the warp threads of their looms), and were not reassembled as works of art until 1699. They were cleaned in 1965-66 and restored again in 1992-96. Some colours have faded; for example, Christ’s robe in the Miraculous Draught is now virtually white, while its reflection in the water retains its original deep pink hue.
In the past, the cartoons were often ascribed to Raphael’s assistants, particularly Giovanni Francesco Penni. But, following the publication in 1972 of a study of the cartoons and tapestries by John Shearman, it has been generally accepted that the cartoons were drawn and painted in considerable part by Raphael himself.
The subjects of the seven surviving cartoons are: the Miraculous Draught of the Fishes (which appears to be entirely by Raphael’s own hand, apart perhaps for the birds and fishes, which Vasari ascribe to Giovanni da Udine); Feed my Sheep; the Healing of the Lame Man at the Beautiful Gate (with spiral columns similar to those preserved in St Peter’s that were traditionally supposed to have come from Solomon’s Temple); the dramatic Death of Ananias; the Blinding of Elymas; the Sacrifice at Lystra; and St Paul Preaching at Athens (with a probable portrait of Leo X as the plump man behind Paul paying rapt attention to his words). The three cartoons that have been destroyed represented the Stoning of Stephen, the Conversion of Saul, and St Paul in Prison (a narrow, vertical strip).
To mark the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain in September 2010, four of the tapestries were loaned by the Vatican to hang alongside the cartoons from which they had been woven.
London. Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Saint Anthony of Padua; A Franciscan Saint. Wood, each 26 x 17.
St Anthony of Padua is identified by his Franciscan habit and lily. The other saint is often called St Francis himself, but no stigmata are shown. It has been suggested recently that he could be Berard of Carbio – an Umbrian friar martyred in Morocco in 1220. The two small panels belonged to the predella of the Colonna Altarpiece, painted in about 1504-5 for the Franciscan nuns of Sant’Antonio at Perugia. Most of the altarpiece (including an Agony in the Garden from the predella) is now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Also from the predella are a Procession to Calvary in the National Gallery, London, and a Pietà in the Gardner Museum, Boston. According to a reconstruction proposed in 1927 by Adolfo Venturi (L'Arte) and recently endorsed by Ralf Scholz (Das Münster (2014)), the Dulwich panels were two of four small panels of standing saints, two of which were located at the ends of the predella and two between the three narrative panels. One of the other standing saints was identified by Venturi as a Saint Francis in the Dresden Gallery, and the remaining one was identified by Scholz as a Saint Sebastian in a private collection. The execution of the Dulwich panels, which are rather battered and restored, has sometimes been ascribed to an assistant or collaborator (eg Eusebio da San Giorgio). They were bequeathed by Sir Peter Bourgeois in 1811.
London. Hampton Court.
Portrait of a Young Man (so-called Self-Portrait). Wood, 43 x 42.
The picture, which is inscribed with Raphael’s name on the eyelets of the tunic, has been cut down at the bottom, and may originally have shown the sitter’s hands and a parapet. Presented to George III by Lord Cowper in 1781, it was badly repainted and long neglected. After cleaning in 1978 it was claimed as a youthful self-portrait. It was reproduced as such on the cover of David Thompson’s 1983 Raphael and His Legacy. However, technical examination raised new doubts about its authorship. The mechanical underdrawing revealed by X-rays is unlike Raphael’s normal drawing style, and may have been traced rather than executed freehand. The picture was excluded from the 2004-5 exhibition at the National Gallery devoted to Raphael’s early works and classed as the work of a follower in the 2007 Art in Italy exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery.
Los Angeles. Getty Museum
‘Madonna del Loreto’. Wood, 121 x 91.
Once claimed as Raphael’s original, but probably an early copy of the painting at Chantilly. Bought by John Paul Getty in 1938 from the Bourbon collection.
*Holy Family (‘Madonna dell’Agnello’). Wood, 29 x 21.
The Child sits astride a lamb, symbol of his future sacrifice; St Joseph rests on a staff on the right. This tiny panel (photographs do not convey its miniature scale) is signed and dated in gold lettering on the neckline of the Virgin’s bodice. The date ‘MDVII.IV’ has been interpreted as meaning ‘the year 1507 in the fourth year of Julius II’s pontificate’. The composition seems to have been inspired by a cartoon drawn by Leonardo for a painting commissioned for the high altar of the church of the Annunziata at Florence. (The cartoon is lost, but it is described in some detail by Fra Pietro da Novellara in a letter of 1501 to Isabella d'Este.) Possibly the Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Raphael that was bought in Rome in 1724 for Philip V of Spain from the painter Carlo Maratta. It was discovered in 1830 at the Escorial and transferred to the Prado in 1837. The pen-and-wash cartoon, squared and pricked for transfer, survives (in a rather damaged state) at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
The authenticity of the Prado picture was challenged when another version, apparently bearing the earlier date of 1504, was published by its then owner, Viscount Lee of Fareham (January 1934 Burlington Magazine). The Viscount Lee version, which later passed into a German collection, was subsequently accepted as Raphael's original by a number of experts (including Luitpold Dussler in his 1971 monograph). It is now regarded as an old copy.
*A Cardinal. Wood, 79 x 61.
This remarkable portrait was probably painted during Raphael’s early years in Rome (about 1510-11). In the nineteenth century, the Cardinal was thought to be Giulio de' Medici (the future Clement VII) and then Raphael's friend and patron Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena. He has been identified more recently (on the basis of a resemblance to a portrait by Sebastiano del Piombo in Washington) as Cardinal Bandellino Sauli, who was imprisoned in 1517 after the ‘cardinals’ conspiracy’ against Leo X and died a year later. But at least a half dozen other candidates have been proposed, including Francesco Alidosi (Julius II’s favourite, murdered at Ravenna in 1511). The portrait was acquired in Rome by Carlos IV (possibly in 1803), and entered the Spanish royal collection with an attribution to the Netherlandish portrait painter Antonis Mor (Antonio Moro). It was transferred to the Prado from the palace at Aranjuez.
*Virgin and Child with Tobias and the Angel and St Jerome ('Madonna del Pesce’). Canvas (transferred), 215 x 158.
From the church of San Domenico at Naples, where it is recorded in 1524 in the Cappella del Doce. Tobias, presented to the Virgin by the Angel, was of particular significance to the Dominicans because of his association with healing. St Jerome, on the other side of the throne, is the name saint of Geronimo del Doce, the chapel’s patron. Usually dated around 1514-16. The newly appointed Spanish viceroy, Ramiro de Guzman, Duke of Medina, removed the picture from the church in 1638. (The Dominican prior was expelled from Naples by the Duke after complaining to Rome about the removal of the picture.) Upon the Duke's return to Spain in 1644, he presented the picture to Philip IV. Briefly in the chapel of the Alcázar Palace, it was transferred to the Escorial in 1645. The execution is probably largely by the studio, Raphael perhaps painting the Virgin’s face but little else. Very damaged, probably as a result of its transfer from panel to canvas.
*Christ carrying the Cross (‘Lo Spasimo di Sicilia’). Canvas (transferred), 318 x 229.
So-called because the picture came from the remote church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo at Palermo. It represents the Way to Calvary; Christ sinks under the weight of the cross and looks back at the Virgin Mary. The composition appears to draw on Northern prints of the subject, including Martin Schongauer’s large copperplate engraving (about 1480), Dürer’s woodprint from the Small Passion series (1509), and Lucas van Leyden's engraving of 1515. Vasari recounts that the ship taking the picture to Sicily was wrecked near Genoa, but it was washed up on the beach in its case undamaged ‘since even the fury of the wind and waves respected its beauty’. The Olivetan monks took the picture with them when they moved to Santo Spirito in 1573, and then sold it in 1661 to Philip IV of Spain. The price agreed was huge – an annuity of 4,000 ducats for the monastery and a lump sum of 500 ducats for the prior who took the picture to Madrid. A fairly late work (about 1515-16); apart from a few details (such as the faces of Christ, Simon of Cyrene and the Maries), the execution has often been ascribed to assistants. Like the ‘Madonna del Pesce’, it was plundered from the Spanish royal collection in 1813, damaged by damp in transit to Paris, and transferred from panel to canvas before being returned to Spain. It is, unsurprisingly, in poor condition, with repaint covering numerous paint losses. Raphael’s composition was engraved by Agostino Veneziano as early as 1517. While few can have seen Raphael’s original painting in its out-of-the way location, Veneziano’s print appears to have been widely known to Italian artists, including Jacopo Bassano, who painted several versions of the subject.
*Holy Family (‘La Perla’). Wood, 144 x 115.
The Child, astride the Virgin’s knee and with one foot on the cradle, reaches for the fruit held out to him by St John. The elderly St Elizabeth, chin resting on her hand, appears deep in thought. St Joseph is scarcely visible among the dark ruins on the left. The picture is known as ‘La Perla’ because Philip IV described it as the pearl of his collection. A late work (about 1518-20), which has often been ascribed to Giulio Romano but is considered largely autograph by some recent critics. It has been identified with ‘the very beautiful Nativity with a daybreak’ mentioned by Vasari as painted for the Counts of Canossa in Verona. Vincenzo I of Mantua is said to have given a marquisate in Monferrato, worth 50,000 scudi, for it. It was acquired with the Gonzaga collection by Charles I of England. After Charles’s execution, it was bought by Luis Méndez de Haro on behalf of the Spanish King. Of all the pictures in the Commonwealth Sale, ‘La Perla’ had the highest valuation – £2,000. It was briefly placed in the sacristy of the monastery of El Escorial, and then transferred in 1656 to the Royal Palace of Madrid. During the French occupation, it was sent in 1809 to Joseph Bonaparte's summer palace at La Granja and thence in 1813 to Paris. It returned to Spain after Waterloo, and was transferred to the Prado from the Escorial in 1857. Raphael’s authorship was first challenged in the late nineteenth century. Since the 1980s, opinion has tended to swing back from Giulio Romano towards Raphael. Evidence for Raphael’s participation in the execution has been afforded by X-rays, which suggest that the central group was reworked at a late stage.
The Visitation. Canvas (transferred), 200 x 145.
The Virgin Mary is greeted by her older cousin, Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist. In the left distance, St John baptises Christ in the River Jordan. The picture was commissioned by the Papal Chamberlain Giovanni Battista Branconio, at the behest of his father Marino Branconio (whose name is inscribed in gold letters, bottom centre), and installed by 2 April 1520 in the family chapel in the church of San Silvestro at Aquila in the Abruzzi. The subject was doubtless chosen because Elizabeth and John the Baptist were the name saints of Marino Branconio’s wife and son. Although Raphael was paid 300 scudi for the picture, and his name is inscribed along the bottom edge, it has been doubted whether he played any part in the execution (which has been variously ascribed to Giulio Romano, Giovanni Francesco Penni and Perino del Vaga). Acquired by Philip IV (through the Duke of Laurito) in 1655. (In a vain attempt to prevent the removal of the picture, the chapter closed the church; but after a stand-off lasting two weeks, the Spaniards began to tear down one of the church walls.) Though taken to Paris in 1813 and transferred from panel to canvas, the picture is in generally good condition. Cleaned in 2003.
Holy Family (‘Madonna della Quercia’). Wood, 144 x 110.
The Christ Child, seated astride the Virgin's right knee, reaches for the inscribed scroll held by the infant Baptist, who rests his foot on the cradle. St Joseph watches, leaning on a sculpted fragment with his chin in his hand. The picture takes its name from the carefully painted oak tree behind the Virgin. The ruins of the Baths of Caracalla are seen in the left background. Signed on the cradle. Another late work (about 1518-20); the composition is probably Raphael’s but the execution is usually ascribed either to Giovanni Francesco Penni or Giulio Romano. The picture was at the Escorial by 1667, and is thought to have been among the works of art given to Philip IV by Niccolò Ludovisi, brother of Pope Gregory XV and commander of the Papal army. Its original location is unknown.
Holy Family (‘Madonna della Rosa’). Canvas, 103 x 84.
The infant Baptist, holding a crucifix in his right hand, reaches out his left hand to touch the scroll held by the Christ Child. Also late (about 1517-18). The picture was probably painted originally on panel and transferred to canvas in the nineteenth century. The surface is rather abraded. The table with the rose, from which the picture takes its name, is a later addition, a new strip of canvas having been attached to the bottom of the picture. Often considered a studio work, but judged at least partly autograph by some recent critics. The picture was in Spain by 1657, when it is recorded at the Escorial. Either the same picture or another version of it was in the Earl of Arundel's collection in 1642, when it was engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar as a work of Perino del Vaga. There is a near replica by Giulio Romano in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, and a copy attributed to Daniele da Volterra in the Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome.
Madrid. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.
Portrait of a Young Man. Wood, 44 x 29.
The teenage sitter has sometimes been identified as Alessandro de’ Medici (1505-1537) – illegitimate son of Lorenzo de’ Medici (future Duke of Urbino) or more probably Giulio de’ Medici (the future Clement VII) and a mulatto servant – whom Raphael is known to have painted. Attributed either to Raphael, as a late work, or to Giulio Romano. Before 1930, it was in an English private collection.
*‘Lo Sposalizio’. Wood, 170 x 118.
An unusually young Joseph holds his flowering rod as he places the ring on the Virgin's finger. To the right, disappointed suitors break their rods that did not bloom. In the background, the receding lines of the pavement lead the eye to the entrance of a temple, beautifully proportioned in the latest High Renaissance style of Bramante. The picture is signed and dated 1504 on the cornice of the temple. It was commissioned by the notary Filippo di Lodovico Albizzini for the altar of his chapel, dedicated to St Joseph, in the church of San Francesco at Città di Castello. A copy is still in the church (fourth altar on the left of the nave). Raphael seems to have taken for his model the altarpiece of the same subject painted by Perugino for the cathedral of Perugia and now at Caen. Vasari says that, for the first time, Raphael not only equalled Perugino but actually surpassed him.
In 1571, Guidobaldo II, Duke of Urbino, unsuccessfully attempted to acquire the altarpiece, which was still in the possession of the Albizzini family. Despite the determined efforts of his secretary, Paolo Maria della Rovere, Bishop of Cagli, the Duke had to make do with a copy. The altarpiece remained in situ until 1798, when it was carried off by General Giuseppe Lechi, a Brescian aristocrat in command of the French army. It was sold by him in 1801 to Giacomo Sannazzaro of Milan, who bequeathed it to the Ospedale Maggiore. Purchased from the hospital by the Brera in 1806 for 53,000 francs. It has been restored several times: it was treated by the famous restorer Giuseppe Molteni in 1858, when the wooden support had cracked and warped; it was repaired in 1958, when the Virgin’s body and elbow were damaged in an act of vandalism; and it was restored again in 2008-9, when darkened varnish and old repaint were removed.
Milan. Poldi Pezzoli Museum.
Double-sided Crucifix. Wood, 47 x 33.
Both sides show almost identical figures of Christ crucified. On one side, the Virgin and St John the Evangelist are represented in tiny roundels at the ends of the arms of the cross, with St Peter and the Magdalen at the top and bottom. On the other side, St Francis and St Clare are shown at the ends of the arms, with St Louis of Toulouse and St Anthony of Padua at the top and bottom. This small processional cross was probably made for a convent of Franciscan nuns. Previously ascribed to the circle of Pintoricchio or of Perugino, it was attributed to Raphael, as a very early work, in 1956 by Carlo Volpe (in an article in the Italian journal Paragone) and by Ettore Camesasca (in his Tutta la Pittura di Raffaello). It has been linked to a drawing by Raphael at Berlin (with studies for a Virgin and St Peter in roundels). Classed as ‘attributed to Raphael’ by the museum and by the curators of the Raphael exhibition held at the National Gallery, London, in 2004. However, most recent literature has either ignored the work or rejected the attribution. Bequeathed to the museum in 1973 with the collection of Margherita Visconti Venosta.
Cartoon for the School of Athens. Paper, 285 x 804.
The huge cartoon – the largest from the Renaissance to have survived intact – corresponds closely to the fresco in the Stanza della Segnatura. The brooding figure in the centre foreground of the fresco (probably a portrait of Michelangelo as Heracleitus) is not yet present, nor is Raphael's self-portrait on the extreme right; but almost all the other significant figures are included. The background architecture is omitted. The cartoon was executed in black charcoal and chalk with white highlighting on many joined sheets of paper. It is pricked for transfer, but is unlikely to have been used directly on the damp plaster. It was bought in 1626 by Cardinal Federico Borromeo, founder of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, from Bianca Spinola Visconti for 600 lire imperiale. Restored in 2014-18.
Montpellier. Musée Fabre.
Portrait of Lorenzo de' Medici (copy). Wood, 99 x 75.
He holds a small gold box in his left hand. Lorenzo II de' Medici, grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent and nephew of Pope Leo X, was ruler of Florence and Duke of Urbino from 1516 until his untimely death of syphilis, aged of only twenty-six, in 1519. Raphael's portrait of him was painted in January-February 1518, when it is mentioned in letters sent to Alfonso d'Este by Beltrame Costabili (his agent in Rome) and by Lorenzo de' Medici (through his secretary Goro Gheri) to Baldassarre Turini in Rome. The portrait was sent to France before Lorenzo's marriage to Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne at the Château de Amboise in May 1518. The picture at Montpellier was acquired by the painter François-Xavier Fabre from a collection in Siena and donated to the museum in 1826. It is an imposing painting, but far too coarse in execution to be an autograph work of Raphael (or even his workshop).
A superior version of the portrait (on canvas) was formerly in the collection of the nineteenth-century merchant (and opium trader) Hollingworth Magniac of Colworth in Bedfordshire. It was acquired in 1968 by the dealer Ira Spanierman at a New York auction for just $325. This version, too, had always been considered only a copy. But in 1971 Konrad Oberhuber published an article (August Burlington Magazine) making the case for Raphael's authorship. This view won substantial, though not unanimous, support. Some art historians – while accepting the picture as the original – have ascribed the execution largely or wholly to Raphael's studio (or specifically Gianfrancesco Penni). The Spanierman version was sold at Christie's, London, in July 2007 for $18.5 million, and it remains in private hands.
Munich. Alte Pinakothek.
*‘Madonna Canigiani’. Wood, 131 x 107.
The Christ Child and the infant St John, supported by their mothers, the Virgin Mary and St Elizabeth, examine a banderole with the prophetic inscription Ecce Agnus Dei. Joseph stands behind leaning on his staff. Raphael’s name is inscribed on the hem of the Virgin’s bodice. The largest of Raphael’s Florentine Holy Families. The complex pyramidal grouping of figures was clearly inspired by Leonardo’s compositions of the Virgin and Child with St Anne. The picture was painted for Domenico Canigiani (1487-1548), perhaps at the time of his marriage to Lucrezia Frescobaldi in 1507; and in Vasari’s day it belonged to Canigiani’s heirs. It was given by Grand Duke Cosimo III of Tuscany to the Palatine Elector Johann Wilhelm on the occasion of the latter’s marriage to Anna Maria Lodovica de’ Medici in 1691. It was transferred from Düsseldorf to Munich in 1806. The clusters of putti in the clouds in the upper corners were overpainted in about 1755 by the French restorer François-Louis Colins, after an attempt had been made to scrape them away. The repaint was finally removed in 1982, and the areas of abrasion have been toned in by watercolour paint.
*‘Madonna di Casa Tempi’. Wood, 75 x 51.
The standing Madonna, three-quarter length and seen from the side, holds the Child in a close embrace, their faces touching. The motif of the faces touching is found in a number of reliefs by Donatello (including the Pazzi Madonna in Berlin). Usually dated towards the end of Raphael’s Florentine period (1506-8). Formerly in the Casa Tempi at Florence (a palazzo on the Arno, near the Ponte Vecchio). Bought by King Ludwig of Bavaria in 1829. The restoration of the picture was fiercely criticised by Giovanni Morelli. ('The landscape background has been much overcleaned; the mouth of the Madonna has been so disfigured that she looks as though she were suffering from toothache; the left eyelid is damaged, and the original outlines of the brow and of the nose are lost'. Italian Masters in the German Galleries (1883).)
‘Madonna della Tenda’. Wood, 66 x 51.
The Virgin, half-length and in profile, holds the Christ Child on her lap. The infant St John stands behind on the right with clasped hands and a small cross. A green curtain (hence ‘della Tenda’) covers the left background. The composition is closely related to that of the famous tondo the Madonna della Sedia in the Pitti Palace, and the picture has usually been dated about 1513-14. Once in the Spanish royal collection, it was removed from the Escorial during the Napoleonic Wars and exported to Germany in 1809 and thence to London in 1813. It was acquired by Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria in 1819 from the English banker Sir Thomas Baring for £5,000. The attribution was often doubted in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. But, after strong support from Oskar Fischel in his posthumous 1948 monograph, it is now generally accepted. Another version, acquired by KIng Carlo Alberto in 1828 and now in the Galleria Sabauda at Turin, was attributed to Raphael in the nineteenth century but is a good early copy.
*God the Father; the Virgin. Two fragments, 111 x 74 and 51 x 41.
From the large altarpiece commissioned in December 1500, and finished nine months later in September 1501, for the church of Sant’Agostino at Città di Castello. It was painted by the teenage Raphael in collaboration with Evangelista da Pian di Meleto (an older artist mentioned in the household of Raphael’s father in 1483). The two artists were paid the comparatively low fee of thirty-three ducats, of which Raphael received half. The picture may have been designed by Raphael but the execution left largely to the older collaborator. It was originally almost four metres high. The subject was the Coronation of St Nicholas of Tolentino, with half-length figures of God the Father, the Virgin and St Augustine holding crowns over the head of the saint, who stands on a demon and is flanked by four standing angels. The altarpiece was badly damaged in an earthquake of 1789. It was sold to fund the rebuilding of the church, acquired by Pope Pius VI, and then dismembered and dispersed. A fragment of an angel’s head is in Brescia; another, recently discovered in France, is in the Louvre. There is a loose copy of the whole picture, painted by Ermenegildo Constantini in Rome in 1791, in the gallery at Città di Castello.
*Portrait of Alessandro Farnese. Wood, 137 x 92.
Alessandro Farnese (1468-1549), the oldest son of Pier Luigi I Farnese, was created a cardinal in 1493 by the Borgia pope, Alexander VI. As Paul III, he was the longest serving Renaissance pope and perhaps the most successful. The portrait depicts him in his early forties, three-quarter length, wearing his cardinal's scarlet cape (mozzetta), cassock and cap (biretta), and holding out a folded document in his right hand. (The document is, perhaps, the bull by which Julius II legitimised Alessandro's children, granting a lineage to the Farnese.) The portrait probably dates from about 1510-11, when Raphael included Alessandro Farnese on the right of the enthroned Pope Gregory IX in the fresco of the Presentation of the Decretals in the Stanza della Segnatura. It is recorded as by Raphael in a Farnese inventory of 1587, but is often ascribed to his workshop by modern critics.
Holy Family ‘(Madonna del Divino Amore’). Wood, 141 x 111.
Late (about 1518). Though described at length and extravagantly praised by Vasari (‘a picture of marvellous colouring and outstanding beauty … of such strength and such enchanting delicacy that I cannot see how it could possibly be surpassed’), modern criticism has usually accepted only the composition as Raphael’s and ascribed the execution to an assistant (Giulio Romano or Giovanni Francesco Penni). However, technical examination (reflectography) in 2012, revealing underdrawing typical of Raphael, led to a reappraisal, and the museum now considers the picture to be substantially autograph. Painted for Lionello Pio da Carpi, ruler of Meldola. It came into the possession of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese at Parma, and passed through the Farnese family to the royal palace at Naples. There were major restorations in 1841 (when the panel was treated for worm) and 1957 (when heavy repaint was removed). The picture was cleaned in 2012. A full-size drawing, attributed to Penni, at the Capodimonte was formerly assumed to be the cartoon for the painting but is now thought to be a copy of the finished work.
New York. Metropolitan Museum.
The altarpiece was painted for the Franciscan nuns of Sant’Antonio at Perugia. Vasari says that the infant Jesus was represented fully clothed so as to please ‘these simple, holy women’. It is usually dated about 1504-5, but could be even earlier. The museum possesses: the main panel of the Virgin and Child enthroned with Saints (170 x 169); the lunette of God the Father (65 x 175); and a side panel from the predella of the Agony in the Garden (24 x 29). The saints in the main panel are Peter (with the gold and silver keys of Heaven dangling from his wrist), Paul (with executioner's sword), Catherine of Alexandria (leaning on her spiked wheel) and another female martyr (who has been variously identified as Cecila, Lucy, Margaret, Barbara or Dorothy, but has no distinguishing attributes apart from a palm, book and crown of roses).
The predella left the convent in 1663, when it was sold for 600 scudi to Queen Christina of Sweden. The panels from it are now divided between the Met, Boston (Gardner Museum) and London (National Gallery and Dulwich). The main panel and lunette were bought in 1677-78 for 1,800 scudi by Giovanni Antonio Bigazzini of Perugia, who sold them to the Colonna family in Rome (after whom the altarpiece is usually called). They then passed to the Royal Palace in Naples and thence to the royal collection in Madrid. The immensely wealthy and acquisitive American banker J. Piermont Morgan bought them for the enormous sum of two million francs ($500,000) in 1901, and they were donated to the Metropolitan Museum by his son Jack Morgan in 1916. Having remained in British collections throughout the nineteenth century, the Agony in the Garden was sold by Duveen in 1926 to the American industrialist Clarence H. Mackay for the reputed sum of half a million dollars. It was sold to the museum in 1932, after Mackay had lost his fortune in the stock market crash.
The main panel shows the influence of Pintoricchio. (The central group of the Madonna and Child and the infant St John is almost the mirror image of Pintoricchio's Madonna at Cambridge.) Some degree of studio collaboration is likely in parts of the altarpiece. In particular, the Agony may have been executed by an Umbrian associate from a drawing preserved in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. The composition recalls Perugino’s versions of this subject (eg. that in the Uffizi from the convent of San Giusto). The drawing suggests (and X-rays confirm) that the little angel holding a chalice is a later addition and that the chalice was originally placed on the mound, as though upon an altar.
The other parts of the altarpiece were reunited with the Metropolitan Museum’s panels in an exhibition held at the museum in 2006.
Portrait of Giuliano de’ Medici, Duke of Nemours. Canvas, 83 x 66
Giuliano de’ Medici was the third son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and de facto ruler of Florence in 1512-13. Vasari says that Raphael painted portraits of Giuliano and his nephew Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, who succeeded him as ruler. The view of the Castel Sant’Angelo in the right background suggests that Giuliano’s portrait was painted in Rome – perhaps either shortly before or shortly after his visit to France in 1515, when he married Philiberte of Savoy and was created Duke of Nemours by Francis I. The painting now in the Metropolitan Museum was widely accepted, at one time, as Raphael’s original portrait. After passing through various aristocratic European collections (including those of the Grand Duchess of Russia, Duke of Leuchtenburg and Principe Colonna), it was bought by the New York banker Jules Bache in 1928 from Duveen for the huge price of $400,000. Support for the attribution has fallen away, and the painting is now generally regarded as a studio replica or early copy. There are several other versions, including one ascribed to Alessandro Allori in the Uffizi.
Judgement of Paris. Engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi. Paper, 29 x 44.
The Trojan prince Paris, seated with his sheep dog and shepherd's crook, delivers his judgement on which of the three goddesses is the most beautiful. He hands the golden apple to Venus, who is crowned with laurel by a winged victory. Juno points an angry finger at Paris and Minerva picks up her cloak to cover her nakedness. Mercury, with winged hat and caduceus, stands behind. Overhead, Apollo drives the chariot of the sun, preceded by Castor and Pollux on horseback. Jupiter is enthroned in the clouds to the right. On the ground to the right, a naiad is seated with two river gods. The Judgement of Paris is one of the most celebrated and elaborate prints designed by Raphael. Vasari says it was one of his earliest collaborations with Marcantonio Raimondi and 'was so finely engraved ... as to occasion the astonishment of all Rome'. Raphael is likely to have provided the engraver with a detailed drawing for the complete composition; but no such drawing survives and (with the possible exception of a silverpoint Venus at Budapest) no figure studies are known either. Raphael based his composition on reliefs on two Roman sarcophagi. (Both sarcophagi are still in Rome: one in the Villa Medici and the other in the Villa Doria Pamphilj.) The Metropolitan Museum's exceptionally fine impression of the print was formerly in the collection of Earl Spencer at Althorp House in Northamptonshire.
New York. Glen Falls. Hyde Collection.
Portrait of a Man. Canvas (transferred from panel), 42 x 33.
He is thirtyish, wears a navy blue gown with a black stole, and has a wealth of curly brown hair, which falls onto his shoulders from under a soft black cap. His pose and expression are very like those of the Agnolo Doni at the Pitti Palace. At the end of the nineteenth century, the portrait was with the Florentine dealer and restorer Elia Volpe, who sold it to Agnew's of London. After a few years in the collection of the immensely wealthy New York financier William Collins Whitney, the picture returned to Agnew's, where it remained unsold for more than thirty years. It was bought by Charlotte Hyde in 1938. The Raphael attribution was accepted in the monographs by Oskar Fischel (1948) and Luitpold Dussler (1971), and has been retained by the museum. But the picture appears to have been little studied or discussed in recent times. The main alternative attribution – proposed by Berenson as early as 1898 – has been to Ridolfo Ghirlandaio (a Florentine contemporary, friend and sometimes imitator of Raphael). Fredericksen and Zeri listed the picture under Ridolfo Ghirlandaio in their 1972 Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Paintings in North American Public Collections.
*Head of an Angel. Wood, 57 x 36.
A fragment, acquired by the Louvre in November 1981, of the altarpiece painted in 1500-1 for Sant’Agostino at Città di Castello. There are other fragments at Naples and Brescia. Disfiguring paint losses, running through the angel's face, have been concealed by restoration. The (abbreviated) inscription on the scroll is taken from the Vespers sung on the Feast of St Nicholas of Tolentino.
*Saint Michael. Wood, 31 x 27.
The winged archangel, with sword and shield, tramples on the dragon at its feet. On the left are hypocrites with cowls over their eyes and gilded cloaks made of lead (Dante’s Inferno: Canto 23). In the distance, the city of Dis is on fire. On the right, naked thieves are attacked by serpents (Canto 24). The strange hybrid beasts in the foreground were probably suggested by pictures or prints by Northern artists such as Hieronymus Bosch. Said to have been painted on the back of a chessboard. An early work (about 1503-4).
*Saint George. Wood, 31 x 27.
Clearly intended as a pendant to the Saint Michael, but perhaps painted a year or so later. St George and St Michael were both associated with orders of knighthood (the former with the English Order of the Garter and the latter with the French Ordre de Saint Michel), and the two small, courtly panels are thought to have been painted for the court at Urbino. They are first recorded in Milan in 1584 (when they were apparently framed together as a diptych), and were sold to Count Ascanio Sforza of Piacenza. Acquired by Louis XIV in 1661 from the heirs of Cardinal Mazarin. There is a pen and ink drawing, pricked for transfer, for the Saint George in the Uffizi. The pose of the rearing horse is borrowed from the famous Roman statues of the Dioscuri (now on the Quirinal Hill). Raphael’s other small panel of this subject, at Washington, may be slightly later.
*‘La Belle Jardinère’. Wood, 122 x 80.
The Virgin is seated on a rock. The Christ Child, standing on her bare right foot, reaches up with his left hand for a book she was reading. The infant Baptist, wearing his camel skin and holding his reed cross, kneels in adoration. Signed and dated in gold Roman letters on the hem of Virgin’s mantle (near the elbow). The date is usually read as 1507; but microscopic analysis has detected the remains of another stroke or digit after the 'VII' – perhaps indicating 1508. The lovingly detailed plants and flowers may be symbolic as well as decorative. The red anemones and bitter dandelion leaves could symbolise Christ's Passion, columbines are associated with the Holy Spirit and the sorrows of the Virgin Mary, and strawberries can represent righteousness and the fruits of Heaven. The painting – one of Raphael's most famous Florentine Madonnas – is often identified as a picture mentioned by Vasari, the blue drapery of which was finished by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio when Raphael left Florence for Rome. The Virgin’s blue robe is badly discoloured (a condition known as 'ultramarine disease'). The figure of the Christ Child, resting against the Virgin’s knee, seems to be derived from Michelangelo’s marble Bruges Madonna of 1506. The picture was probably acquired by Francis I, but it is first mentioned with any certainty only in Le Brun’s 1683 inventory of the French royal collection. The cartoon, formerly at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, is now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Another, nearly identical version – known as the 'Madonna of Leo X' on account of an inscription – was once in the Palazzo Cambiaso at Genoa and later in a private collection at Vienna. It has been claimed at times to be a later replica by Raphael himself, painted in Rome for Leo X. However, few art historians have seen the picture, which has never been loaned out to exhibitions and is currently kept in a safe in Zurich.
*Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione. Canvas (transferred), 82 x 67.
The poet, humanist, diplomat and author of Il Cortegiano is soberly dressed in a black doublet with sleeves of grey squirrel fur and a back hat with a notched brim over a turban. This famous portrait is usually identified with one mentioned in a letter of 1516 from Pietro Bembo to Cardinal Bibbiena. It may date from 1514-15, when Castiglione was appointed ambassador to the Pope by the Duke of Urbino, but has sometimes been placed as late as 1519, when the friendship between Raphael and Castiglione was probably at its closest. Castiglione may have taken the portrait with him to Spain in 1524, when he was sent to Madrid by Clement VII as Apostolic Nuncio. If so, it must have been returned to Castiglione's home in Mantua after he died in Toledo of the plague in 1529. Some sixty years later, his son Camillo offered the portrait to Francesco Maria II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino. After the Duke's death in 1631, the portrait did not go to Florence with the rest of the della Rovere inheritance, but appears to have been misappropriated and sold. It passed into the hands of Lucas van Uffelen, a Dutch merchant banker and shipowner based in Venice, whose collection was auctioned at Amsterdam in 1639. It was bought for the high price of 3,500 guilders by Alfonso Lopez, a Portuguese agent for the French King, who sold it in 1641 to Cardinal Mazarin, and it was acquired by Louis XIV after the cardinal’s death in 1661.
Rembrandt made a drawing of the portrait (now in Vienna) in 1639, when it was in Amsterdam, and there is a painted copy by Rubens in the Courtauld Institute Galleries, London. In both these copies the composition is extended at the bottom to show the hands entirely. This has sometimes been taken as proof that Raphael’s original (which has been transferred from panel to canvas) has been cut down, but there seems no technical evidence for this. The fine Renaissance-style gilded frame (carved with vines, sunflowers, roses and cherry blossom) is French and was probably fitted to the picture in the seventeenth or eighteenth century.
*Saint Michael crushing Satan. Canvas (transferred), 268 x 160.
The Archangel Michael, an exemplar of male beauty clad in classical armour, is poised to strike with his spear. He is elegantly balanced with one foot on the back of Satan, who writhes on the ground clutching his bident (two-pronged lance). The picture was commissioned by Pope Leo X, completed by 27 May 1518, and taken to France as a present for Francis I by Lorenzo de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino (Leo X’s nephew and the French king’s son-in-law). Francis I had a particular devotion to St Michael, who was the protective angel of France. The king was head of the chivalric Order of St Michael, and in 1518 he made two pilgrimages to Mont-Saint-Michel.
The large picture was probably intended as an altarpiece, and it may have been placed at first in the chapel of Saint-Michel at Amboise. By the late 1530s, it had been moved to the newly completed château at Fontainebleau, where it probably hung in the king's private apartments. By the end of the sixteenth century, it had been transferred by Henry IV to the newly formed picture gallery (Cabinet des Peintures) at Fontebleau, where it hung with other celebrated Italian paintings in the French royal collection. Louis XIV hung the picture above his throne in the Tuileries. It is now very damaged. It was restored as early as 1540 by Primaticcio, and has been subjected to no fewer than four transfers (the first in 1751). The execution has often been ascribed to Giulio Romano, but some recent critics have argued that Raphael was executant as well as designer. Raphael gave the cartoon for the painting to Alfonso d'Este. It is now lost.
*‘Madonna of Francis I’. Canvas (transferred), 207 x 140.
Like the ‘Large Saint Michael’, this was painted as a present from Leo X to the French court, and presented to Francis I at Nantes on 10 August 1518 by Lorenzo de’ Medici. The cradle bears the French lily, and the picture may commemorate the birth of the Dauphin (Francis, born on 28 February 1518). By the late 1530s, the picture had been installed in the Royal Chapel at Fontainebleau. It is another picture damaged by an early transfer to canvas (in 1777). Though it is signed by Raphael and dated 1518, the execution is ascribed mainly or wholly to Giulio Romano (whom Vasari says completed the picture). Giulio Romano also appears to have prepared the cartoon – fragments from which are preserved at Melbourne (National Gallery of Victoria) and Bayonne (Musée Bonnat).
*Saint Margaret. Canvas (transferred), 178 x 122.
The saint, holding a martyr's palm, stands with one foot on the wing of the serpent-like dragon, whose enormous mouth gapes open. According to Vasari, the picture was painted almost entirely by Giulio Romano from a design by Raphael. It was probably one of the pictures presented to Francis I on the occasion of the wedding of Lorenzo de’ Medici and Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne in Nantes on 10 August 1518. It may have been intended to honour the French king’s sister, the famously devout Marguerite d'Angoulême of Navarre. Battered and overpainted (restored by Primaticcio as early as 1537-40, damaged by fire in the early seventeenth century, and twice transferred to canvas in the late eighteenth century). There is a variant at Vienna in which the saint holds a crucifix rather than a palm branch.
*Portrait of Dona Isabel de Requesens. Canvas (transferred), 120 x 95.
The young woman wears a magnificent red velvet gown with huge slashed sleeves and a matching turban-style headdress (balzo). This famous portrait was given to Francis I by Cardinal Bibbiena, an ambassador to the French court, on behalf of Leo X. The sitter, called simply ‘a wife of the Viceroy of Naples’ by Vasari, was assumed for centuries to be Giovanna d’Aragona, granddaughter of King Ferrante of Naples and wife of Ascanio Colonna. However, she was identified in 1997 (by Michael P. Fitz in the Louvre publication Le Tableau du Mois) as Dona Isabel de Requesens y Enríquez de Cardona-Anglesola. Dona Isabel was the daughter of a Spanish nobleman, the Count of Palamós, and wife of Ramón de Cardona, who was Viceroy of Naples from 1509 until his death in 1522. The portrait appears to have been both designed and executed largely by Giulio Romano. The Duke of Ferrara, who had seen the picture in France in 1518, wrote to Raphael asking for the cartoon. Raphael sent it to him stating that both it and the painting were by an assistant – identified by Vasari as Giulio Romano. Vasari says that Raphael painted only the head. The portrait was restored by Primaticcio in 1540. There is a particularly fine copy in the Galleria Doria Pamphili at Rome.
‘Madonna au Diadème’. Wood, 68 x 44.
The Virgin, as queen, raises a diaphanous veil to reveal the sleeping Child to the adoring St John. In the background, the ruins of Rome. The composition dates from about 1512 and is related to the ‘Madonna di Loreto’ at Chantilly (of which there is an old copy in the Louvre). The design is usually ascribed to Raphael himself (though no preparatory drawings have been identified) but the execution given to his studio (usually Giovanni Francesco Penni and sometimes Giulio Romano). There are no very early references to the picture. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was in aristocratic Paris collections (those of Monseigneur de Châteauneuf, Marquis de Vrillère, Comte de Toulouse and Prince de Carignano). Acquired by Louis XV in 1743. Another version, once owned by Joshua Reynolds and on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland from the Sutherland collection, is now recognised as an old copy.
Holy Family (‘La Petite Sainte Famille’). Wood, 38 x 32.
The subject is probably the Holy Family's apocryphal meeting with the Virgin's cousin Elizabeth and the infant John the Baptist on its return journey from Egypt. The Christ Child, standing up in his cradle, reaches across the Virgin's knees to caress the face of the Baptist, who kneels on his mother's thighs. This small, delicate panel of about 1518 – a variant of ‘La Perla’ and the ‘Madonna della Quercia’ (both in the Prado) – is signed by Raphael but the execution is often ascribed to his studio (usually Giulio Romano). The picture has a sliding lid with a painting (ascribed to Giulio Romano or Gianfrancesco Penni) of Ceres or Abundance in a niche with marble panelling. First recorded with Adrien Gouffier, Cardinal of Boissy; bought by Louis XIV in 1666 for 6,000 livres from the Comte de Brienne. A red chalk drawing at Windsor Castle is almost identical in composition, and has been attributed either to Raphael or to Giulio Romano
*Double Portrait ('Raphael and a Friend' or so-called ‘Raphael and his Fencing Master’). Canvas, 99 x 83.
The subject remains uncertain. In Le Brun's 1683 inventory of Louis XIV's collection at Versailles, the man in the background, gazing directly at the viewer, was identified as Raphael. He is still thought to be Raphael; but the young man in the foreground – turning to look back and pointing out something in front of him – has not been conclusively identified. The fanciful notion that he was Raphael's fencing master originated with a 1752-54 inventory. The many more recent suggestions for the man's identity include Raphael’s young assistants Giulio Romano, Giovanni Francesco Penni and Polidoro da Caravaggio, the painter and architect Baldassare Peruzzi, the young Pietro Aretino, the architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, and Raphael’s humanist friend and patron Giovanni Battista Branconio. The Pietro Aretino identification (proposed by Cecil Gould in Artibus et Historiae (1984)) is not implausible. The man resembles the young Aretino, as portrayed in Marcantonio Raimondi's engraving, who lived in Rome from 1517 and stayed at the house of Raphael's patron Agostino Chigi. The Giulio Romano identification is favoured, however, in the catalogue of the exhibition Late Raphael held in 2012 at the Prado and Louvre.
The portrait was traditionally ascribed to Pordenone, and often given to Sebastiano del Piombo in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The attribution to Raphael, as a very late work, was proposed by the great Raphael scholar Oskar Fischel (whose monograph on the artist was published posthumously in 1948). Before restoration in 1972, the painting was too dirty for its quality to be properly assessed. But the Raphael attribution has now become universally accepted. Probably dating from 1518-20, the picture is possibly Raphael’s last portrait.
St John the Baptist in the Desert. Canvas (transferred), 135 x 142.
In an unusual treatment of a familiar subject, the Baptist, dressed only in an animal skin, sits astride a fallen tree and points towards a crucifix at the right edge of the picture. The first recorded owner, and probable patron, was Adrien Goffier, Cardinal of Boissy and Grand Almoner of France under Francis I. In 1532, the cardinal’s nephew, Claude Goffier, placed the painting in the church at Oiron (a village in western France). The coats-of-arms of Claude Goffier and his wife Jacqueline de la Trémoille were prominently added either side of the Baptist’s head. The picture was presented to Louis XIV in 1670. It was transferred from panel to canvas in 1777 and is much damaged. Cleaning in 1983 removed old repaint. Often classed a studio work (Giulio Romano and Raffaellino del Colle have been named as possible executants). But it is possible to underestimate the picture because of its poor condition, and some recent critics have argued the case for Raphael’s participation. The fine gilded oak frame was carved by the sculptor La Lande when the picture entered the royal collection.
Pasadena. Norton Simon Museum of Art.
*Madonna and Child with a Book. Wood, 55 x 40.
Very early (about 1502-3). The composition is a variation on that of the Solly Madonna (Berlin), which is probably even earlier. The open Book of Hours has legible letters in Gothic minuscule alluding to the Nones recited daily by monks. The painting is first recorded only in 1883, when it was put up for auction at Christie’s in London as a work of Francia. It was bought-in, and remained in a country house collection in Kent. From 1952 it was with Wildenstein & Co. of London and New York, who sold it to the Simon Norton Foundation in 1972. The price was reputedly $3 million – which at that time was the third highest sum paid for a work of art. Preparatory drawings in metalpoint at Oxford (Ashmolean), at Lille and in the British Museum appear to be of the same period (and are possibly from the same sketchbook) as studies for the Vatican Coronation of the Virgin.
Perugia. Galleria Nazionale.
God the Father with Angels (after a design by Raphael). Wood, 81 x 88.
The altarpiece of the Entombment, painted by Raphael in 1507 for the chapel of Atalanta Baglioni in the church of San Francesco al Prato at Perugia, had a pinnacle (cimasa) that appears to have been executed by Raphael's workshop from his design. It is disputed whether the panel now in the Perugia gallery is the original or an early copy. After the altarpiece was dismantled in 1608 and the main panel taken to Rome, the pinnacle is recorded in several different locations. In 1683, it was part of a reconstruction of the original altarpiece placed above the altar of the Oratorio di San Bernardino at Perugia. It was described at that time as a copy made by the early seventeenth-century Perugian painter Stefano Amadei. The God the Father was later (1787) in the church of San Francesco al Prato, where it formed part of another altarpiece.
In 1923, Umberto Gnoli published the view that the panel had been executed by Raphael's Perugian contemporary Domenico Alfani, working from Raphael's design. That Domenico Alfani was associated with Raphael when the altarpiece was made is proven by a letter, written by Raphael and addressed to Alfani, asking Alfani to remind Atalanta Baglioni that she owes him money. (The debt was presumably for the Entombment altarpiece.) The attribution of the God the Father to Alfani is often still accepted, though the museum appears to favour the theory that its panel is a copy by Stefano Amadei. Evidence that Raphael was responsible for the design is provided by a squared pen-and-ink study attributed to him for the figure of God the Father (preserved, along with the letter from Raphael to Alfani, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts at Lille).
Holy Family with a Pomegranate (executed by Domenico Alfani from a drawing by Raphael). Wood.
The naked Christ Child, standing beside the seated Virgin, reaches across her lap to accept a pomegranate offered by St Joseph. The infant St John, standing on the left, points to the Child. The elderly couple, standing at the sides behind the Holy Family, could be either the Virgin's parents, Joachim and Anne, or the Baptist's parents, Zacharias (Zechariah) and Elizabeth. The painting is based closely on a careful pen-and-ink drawing sent by Raphael from Florence in 1507 or 1508 to the Perugian painter Domenico Alfani. The drawing, squared for enlargement, is on the back of the letter (preserved in the Musée des Beaux-Arts at Lille) in which Raphael asks Alfani to remind Atalanta Baglioni of the debt she owes him. The picture appears to have been signed jointly by Domenico Alfani and another Perugian painter (called Pompeo d'Anselmo). It is usually dated to 1510 or 1511, but the date inscribed on the hem of the Virgin's mantle has been read as 1520 or 1522. The picture was originally on the high altar of San Simone del Carmine at Perugia. It was transferred to the Pinacoteca in 1863.
Perugia. San Severo.
The Trinity and Six Saints. Fresco, 470 x 390.
In the apex, the figure of God the Father and the putto on the right are virtually gone. The dove of the Holy Ghost hovers over Christ, who is seated in the centre between three Benedictine saints (Maurus, Placidus and Benedict) on the left and three Camaldolese saints (Romuald, Benedict Martyr and John Martyr) on the right. Raphael’s earliest surviving fresco, dated 1505 in a (restored) inscription at the bottom left. It was painted in a chapel of the original church, around a niche containing a terracotta statue of the Virgin and Child by an unknown artist. The composition clearly owes much to Fra Bartolommeo’s Last Judgement of about 1500 (then in Santa Maria Nuova in Florence and now in the San Marco Museum). Only the upper part is Raphael’s. The six standing saints below were added by Perugino in 1521. The fresco was damaged when the church was demolished in 1748-51. It was heavily repainted in the nineteenth century by the local artists Giuseppe Carattoli (1834-35) and Nicola Consoni (1871), and there were subsequent restorations in 1919, 1932 and 1974-6.
Raleigh (North Carolina). Museum of Art.
*St Jerome Punishing the Heretic Sabinianus. Wood, 26 x 42.
The subject, very rare in Italian art, is from St Cyril’s letter to St Augustine. After St Jerome’s death, a doctrinal dispute arose between Silvanus, Bishop of Nazareth, and Sabinianus, who appealed to a book allegedly written by Jerome to support his heretical position on the dual nature of Christ. It was agreed that if divine intervention proved the book a forgery, Sabinianus would be beheaded; if not, Silvanus would be. The picture shows Jerome appearing in the sky to stop the execution of Silvanus (praying in the centre) and denounce Sabinianus, whose head is miraculously separated from his body (bottom right). As first recognised in 1908 (by Gronau), the panel belonged to the predella of the Mond Crucifixion of 1503 (now in the National Gallery, London). A companion panel is in Lisbon. The Raleigh panel was acquired in Italy by William Young Ottley at the end of the eighteenth century; afterwards it passed through the collection of William Coningham in London and entered the famous Cook collection at Richmond; it was sold at Agnew’s to Mrs Derek Fitzgerald in 1953, and acquired by the Raleigh museum in 1965.
Rome. Galleria Nazionale (Palazzo Barberini).
*‘La Fornarina’. Wood, 85 x 60.
The young woman, pale skinned and dark eyed, is seated largely naked in a three-quarter pose, glancing coyly to the side and placing her right hand over her left breast. She wears a striped gold turban over her black hair. The veil drawn up over her stomach is almost transparent. The index finger of her left hand seems to point to the blue band on her upper left arm, which bears Raphael's signature in gold letters.
This famous erotic portrait is first certainly mentioned by Borghini in 1584 in the possession of the Contessa Caterina Sforza di Santa Fiore at Rome. It has been in the Palazzo Barberini since 1642. The title ‘La Fornarina’ first occurs in the eighteenth century and refers to Raphael’s legendary mistress Margherita, the baker’s daughter. It has been suggested that the sitter could be the famous courtesan Imperia (favourite of Agostino Chigi) or her rival Beatrice of Ferrara (mistress of Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino). Another, perhaps more plausible candidate is Francesca Ordeaschi (Chigi's long-term mistress, whom he acquired in Venice in 1511 and eventually married in 1519). The myrtle bush, which fills most of the dark background, is a symbol of Venus. Also discernible are branches of laurel (symbol of chastity) and quince (another symbol of Venus and love). The single pearl adorning the hair may symbolise purity. Cleaning in 2001 revealed a small ruby ring on the third finger of the sitter's left hand, suggesting that she may have been betrothed. By the seventeenth century, the picture was evidently considered unsuitable for general viewing as it was fitted with a shutter, and it is possible that the portrait always had such a cover.
By the early nineteenth century, the romantic story of Raphael and the baker's daughter had helped to popularize La Fornarina as one of Raphael's best-known works. Between 1813 and 1860, the French artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres made no fewer than five paintings and designed four prints on the theme of Raphael and La Fornarina. From the late nineteenth century. the painting suffered a decline in critical fortune. Despite the signature, it was often attributed to Giulio Romano, or thought to have been left unfinished by Raphael and completed by Giulio. The famous connoisseur Giovanni Morelli called the sitter 'so common and repugnant that one could believe one had before one's eyes a woman of abject condition'. Arnold Nesselrath, a former curator of the Vatican museums, has recently doubted whether the portrait is even from Raphael's workshop or circle and has speculatively reattributed it to Annibale Carracci (Raffaello! (2020). Most other recent published opinion favours Raphael's authorship, however.
A faithful, almost contemporary copy in the Borghese Gallery was traditionally ascribed to Giulio Romano and has been attributed recently to another of Raphael's assistants, Raffaellino del Colle.
Rome. Vatican Pinacoteca.
*Coronation of the Virgin. Canvas (transferred), 222 x 165.
The top half of the picture shows Christ, in Heaven, crowning the young Virgin. Flanking angels play musical instruments (tambourine, harp, rebec and viol) and the pale blue sky is filled with the heads of seraphim. The bottom half of the picture – with the flowering tomb and St Thomas at the centre of the apostles holding the girdle – is an Assumption. The predella (39 x 189), painted on a single horizontal plank, shows scenes of the Annunciation, Adoration of the Magi and Presentation in the Temple. These scenes are so similar to those in the predella of Perugino’s altarpiece in Santa Maria Nuova at Fano that some critics (including Roberto Longhi) have supposed that the Fano predella is also by Raphael.
The Coronation of the Virgin is the most ambitious work of Raphael’s early, Umbrian period. The general composition was probably influenced by Ghirlandaio's Coronation of 1486 at Narni, but the style is highly Peruginesque. The picture was painted as the altarpiece for a side chapel, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, in the church of San Francesco al Prato in Perugia. Vasari says that it was commissioned by Maddalena degli Oddi, but documents suggest that the principal patron was her sister-in-law Alessandra Leandra, daughter of Braccio Baglioni, Il Magnifico. It has been claimed that the altarpiece must have been executed between January 1503, when the Oddi were restored to power, and September 1503, when they were finally ousted by the Baglioni. However, it appears to have been still uncompleted by May 1505, when it is documented that parts of the frame were still with the carpenters. The date 1505 appears on a relief, carved with a Perugian Griffin, outside the chapel (located in the south-eastern corner of the crossing). The altarpiece was taken to France in 1797, the original frame dismantled and the main panel transferred to canvas. It was returned to Italy in 1815 and, along with other pictures by Raphael retrieved from France at the same time, was not returned to its original owners but placed in the new Vatican Pinacoteca.
*‘Madonna of Foligno’. Canvas (transferred), 308 x 198.
The Virgin (taken from Leonardo’s unfinished Adoration of the Kings in the Uffizi) and the Child (taken from the infant in Michelangelo’s Tondo Doni), in the clouds, are adored by John the Baptist, St Francis and St Jerome, who stands with his hand on the head of the kneeling donor, Sigismondo de’ Conti. The tablet held by the putto seems never to have borne an inscription. The picture, the earliest of Raphael’s altarpieces made in Rome, was probably completed in 1512. Conti, the private chamberlain of Julius II, died in February of that year, and his portrait might have been painted from a deathmask. The town in the distance has been identified as Foligno, and it has been suggested that Conti commissioned the picture as a votive offering in gratitude for an escape when a cannonball fell on his house during the siege of the town. (According to this theory, the ball of fire with the rainbow in the sky is the descending cannonball; it has alternatively been interpreted as a bolt of lightening and as a comet.) The picture originally stood on the high altar of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome. Conti was buried in the choir of the church.
By 1565, Sigismondo's niece, Anna de' Conti, had moved the altarpiece to her nunnery of Sant'Anna at Foligno (hence the picture's popular title). It was placed initially in the nuns' choir, but was later installed over the high altar of the church. Even in its comparatively remote new location, the picture attracted considerable attention, and many powerful collectors (including Cosimo II de' Medici, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, Francesco I d'Este, Queen Christina of Sweden and Cosimo III de' Medici) attempted unsuccessfully to buy it from the nuns. It was carried off by the French in 1797, damaged in transit and radically restored in 1800-1 by François-Toussaint Hacquin. (Hacquin's treatment, described in detail in an official report, included flattening the warped panel by inserting wedges into slots cut in the back, thinning the panel by sawing and planing, lifting the paint layer from the thinned panel with a knife, coating the back of the detached paint layer with oil, smoothing the paint layer with a warm iron and then gluing it onto a stretched canvas, and finally retouching the picture surface to conceal damage and paint losses.) In the circumstances, the picture's condition seems to be surprisingly good and the colour remains remarkably luminous.
**Transfiguration. Wood, 410 x 279.
On the summit of Mount Tabor, Peter, James and John see Christ rising towards heaven between Elijah and Moses. At the foot of the mountain, the other disciples, who were not chosen to accompany Christ, try unsuccessfully to heal the boy possessed by demons. The altarpiece is Raphael’s largest oil painting and his last work. It was commissioned by Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici (later Clement VII) for his cathedral at Narbonne in southern France. Raphael was to be paid over 1,000 ducats for it. The cardinal also commissioned at the same time the large altarpiece of the Raising of Lazarus from Sebastiano del Piombo (now in the London National Gallery) for the cathedral. First mentioned in a letter of 17 January 1517 from Sebastiano to Michelangelo, the Transfiguration was still unfinished at Raphael’s death in April 1520 and was hung above his bier. Vasari says that it was finished by Giulio Romano. Giulio Romano’s contribution tended to be exaggerated by twentieth-century critics, who often ascribed most of the lower part to him. The upper part and the group of figures in the left foreground appear to be the work of Raphael himself, with Giulio Romano’s intervention perhaps limited to the right-hand side of the lower part, showing the possessed boy and his family.
Deemed too important to leave Rome, the picture was hung in 1523 over the high altar of San Pietro in Montorio. It was taken to Paris in 1797 as the most prized of the Napoleonic spoils. It was cleaned and restored in 1802, but mercifully not transferred (like the Coronation of the Virgin and Madonna of Foligno) to a canvas support. Returned to Rome in 1816 and placed in the Vatican Pinacoteca. The ‘chiaroscuro’ often remarked on by commentators seems to be at least partly the result of the darkening paint noted by Vasari as early as 1568. Cardinal Giulio commissioned from Gianfrancesco Penni a copy, which was destined for the church of Santo Spirito degli Incurabili at Naples and is now at the Prado.
The many surviving studies for the Transfiguration include a group of consummate full-size drawings ('auxiliary cartoons') for the heads (and sometimes also the hands) of seven of the nine apostles. Two of the drawings are at the British Museum, two (on a single sheet) are at the Ashmolean Museum, and one is at the Albertina. The remaining two, formerly at Chatsworth, are in private hands. One was sold at Christie's in 1996 for £5.3 million and the other at Sotheby's in 2012 for £29.7 million (a record price for any drawing).
The Theological Virtues. Three panels, each 18 x 44.
The three panels – painted in grisaille against a dark green glaze to simulate marble reliefs – represent Faith (holding a chalice between two winged putti holding tablets with Greek monograms), Charity (between a putto with a flaming cauldron and a putto tipping coins out of a basin) and Hope (praying between putti in attitudes of trust). They formed the predella of the altarpiece painted by Raphael in 1507 for the Baglioni Chapel in the church of San Francesco at Perugia. The predella remained in the church when the main panel – the Entombment now in the Borghese Gallery – was removed in 1608. The predella panels were taken by the French in 1797, and entered the new Vatican Pinacoteca when they were returned to Italy in 1815.
‘Monteluce Coronation’. Wood, 254 x 230.
As early as December 1505 Raphael contracted to paint, for 88½ ducats, a high altarpiece for the convent of the Poor Clares at Monteluce, just outside Perugia. He agreed to take Domenico Ghirlandaio’s Coronation of the Virgin (1486) at Narni as his model. (The contract stipulated that the picture should have the same proportions, use the same colours and be framed in the same way, but expressed the wish that it might contain even more figures.) A new contract was signed in June 1516, which raised Raphael’s fee to 120 ducats; but it had still not been honoured at the time of Raphael’s death in 1520. After a third contract was drawn up in June 1523 with Giulio Romano and Gianfrancesco Penni (the inheritors of Raphael’s studio), the picture was finally delivered in June 1525. The upper part appears to have been painted by Giulio Romano. The lower part, with the apostles gathered around the tomb, was executed by Penni on a different panel. The two executants are likely to have followed Raphael’s preparatory drawings (there is a study at Berlin for the group of apostles on the left). The predella was painted by Berti di Giovanni (as stipulated in the 1516 contract).
Tapestries for the Sistine Chapel. Silk and wool with silver-gilt threads.
The ten tapestries were commissioned by Leo X to complete the decoration of the Sistine Chapel after the upper walls had been frescoed in 1480-83 by a galaxy of Quattrocentro masters and the ceiling had been frescoed in 1508-12 by Michelangelo. Four of the tapestries represent scenes from the life of St Peter and six represent scenes from the life of St Paul. They were woven in the Brussels workshop of Pieter van Aelst from cartoons designed and painted in Rome by Raphael and his workshop in 1515-16. Seven of Raphael’s cartoons are preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Each tapestry cost 1,500 ducats to weave. The tapestries were woven from the back, and so their designs reverse those in the cartoons. Otherwise, the designs correspond in almost every detail. However, the weavers did not always follow the colours in the cartoons. (In the Feed my Sheep, for example, the kneeling Peter’s cloak is rich red rather than yellow and Christ’s plain robe is embellished with stars.) Seven of the tapestries had been delivered by Christmas 1519 and the remaining three had arrived before Pope Leo’s death in 1521. Their dimensions vary greatly, and they were clearly planned to hang in specific positions in the chapel. It is thought that those featuring St Peter were placed beneath the frescoed scenes from the life of Christ on the right wall and those featuring St Paul beneath the frescoed Moses scenes on the left wall.
The tapestries were plundered during the Sack of Rome in 1527 and it was many years before they were all recovered. The Blinding of Elymas was cut into pieces and the upper part has been pieced together from fragments. After the French invasion, they were auctioned in Rome in 1798 in a sale of Vatican furnishings. After their recovery in 1808, they were put on permanent display for the first time. (Previously, they had been unrolled only every Corpus Christi.) In 1932 they were installed in the Raphael Room of the new Pinacoteca. All ten tapestries were briefly exhibited in the Sistine Chapel in 1983, to mark the 500th anniversary of Raphael's birth, and again in February 2020, to mark the 500th anniversary of his death.
Four other early Flemish weavings of Raphael’s designs are known. Two of these survive: one woven for Ercole Gonzaga is in the Palazzo Ducale at Mantua and the other, traditionally supposed to have belonged to Margaret of Hungary, is in the Palacio Real at Madrid. A set woven for Francis I of France was burnt during the French Revolution to extract the gold and silver in the thread. One belonging to Henry VIII was destroyed in Berlin in 1945. After seven of the original cartoons were acquired by the Prince of Wales (later Charles I) in 1623, many sets of the tapestries were manufactured at the Mortlake factory in London. (Two Mortlake sets are owned by the Duke of Buccleuch, and there are others at Dresden, Paris, Forde Abbey, Belvoir, Woburn, Chatsworth, and elsewhere.) The set now at Hampton Court was not made at Mortlake but in the Brussels workshop of Jan Raes, which also manufactured the second set in the Palacio Real at Madrid. Another seventeenth-century Brussels set belonged to Cardinal Sforza Pallavicini and is now in the Palazzo Apostolico at Loreto. Seventeenth-century sets were also made in France (both at Beauvais and the Gobelins factory at Paris) from oil copies of the tapestries made by the French School at Rome. A set made in Paris for Cardinal Mazarin is now at Urbino.
Rome. Vatican. The Stanze.
**Stanza della Segnatura.
This is the first of the Stanze (suite of rooms) to be decorated by Raphael. It takes its name from the papal court that held its sessions there, but it may have been decorated as Julius II’s personal library. The subjects of the frescoes are related to the different branches of knowledge.
Theology is represented by the ‘Disputa’ (or Disputation of the Sacrament). In the upper part, Christ is enthroned beneath the celestial dome between the Virgin and John the Baptist; Christian saints and martyrs and Old Testament patriarchs and prophets are seated around them on a semi-circular bank of cloud. Below, a crowd of theologians, grouped on either side of the altar, discuss the nature of the sacrament. On the left of the altar, Julius II is depicted beardless as Gregory the Great. Other portraits include Sixtus IV (Julius’s uncle, standing on the right), Dante (whose poetry Julius especially admired), Savonarola, and possibly Fra Angelico (on the extreme left) and Bramante (leaning on a balustrade). Evidence of the painstaking process by which Raphael worked out the composition is provided by preparatory drawings at Windsor, the British Museum, the Uffizi, Oxford and elsewhere.
Philosophy is represented on the opposite wall by the School of Athens, which depicts the greatest sages of the ancient world engaged in discussion under the portico of a magnificent classical basilica (which gives perhaps an idea of how Julius II’s new St Peter’s was intended to look). Plato (holding his dialogue Timaeus) and Aristotle (holding a copy of his Ethics) take centre stage. Vasari says that Raphael included portraits of himself (in a black cap in the far right corner) and Bramante (as Archimedes bending over a slate to demonstrate geometry). Raphael may also have included other portraits of contemporaries – including Leonardo da Vinci (as Plato), Tommaso Inglirami (the papal librarian, crowned with a wreath on the far left), Michelangelo (as Heracleitus, the pessimistic philosopher, sitting gloomily alone in the foreground, his elbow on a marble block) and the painter Sodoma (standing beside Raphael). The magnificent cartoon for the fresco – the largest to have survived from the High Renaissance – is preserved in the Ambrosiana, Milan.
Literature is represented by the Parnassus, which depicts Apollo playing a fiddle surrounded by the nine Muses and the great poets on the slopes of the sacred mountain. The head of the blind Homer is copied from that of the Laocoön, the marble Hellenistic group placed in the Belvedere courtyard of the Vatican in 1506. Behind Homer are Dante and Virgil, while Petrarch (round-faced and in medieval dress) stands behind the conclave of Greek poets in the left foreground. On the right are portraits of contemporary poets, including Bernardo Accolti (with a finger to his lips), Jacopo Sannazzaro (the plump, middle-aged man behind him) and Lodovico Ariosto (the black bearded man confronting the viewer).
The fourth wall is dedicated to law. The lunette of Three Cardinal Virtues (Fortitude holding an oak tree, Prudence with two faces, and Temperance with a bride) is by Raphael himself. So is the scene (representing canon law) of Gregory IX delivering the Decretals. Gregory IX has been given the features of Julius II, the cardinal on the left is a portrait of Giovanni de' Medici (the future Leo X) and the cardinal on the right is a portrait of Alessandro Farnese (the future Paul III). The scene on the left (representing civil law) of Tribonian presenting the Pandects to the Emperor Justinian was recognised during a recent restoration as the work of Lorenzo Lotto. Sodoma was responsible for much of the ceiling ornamentation, but Raphael painted the four large roundels with symbolic figures of Theology, Philosophy, Poetry and Justice. Three of the four rectangular scenes with trompe l’oeil mosaic backgrounds (Adam and Eve, Judgement of Solomon and Astronomy) are also by him.
Raphael received a payment of 100 ducats on account for work in the room on 13 January 1509, shortly after his arrival in Rome. An inscription states that the frescoes were finished in the eighth year of Julius’s reign, ie. 1511. The room was restored in 1995-2000.
The second Stanza decorated by Raphael (with some help from assistants). The paintings are more ‘Roman’ in style than those in the Stanza della Segnatura – the compositions more animated, the masses heavier and the movement more powerful, the colour deeper and the lighting more dramatic.
The room takes its name from the subject on the principal wall, the Expulsion of Heliodorous from the Temple, which was chosen by Julius II to illustrate God’s protection of His Church. Julius himself is shown witnessing the scene from a litter; the foremost bearer is, according to Vasari, a portrait of the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi.
The Mass of Bolsena recounts the famous miracle that took place in 1263, when the Host shed Christ’s blood during Mass, demonstrating the truth of the doctrine of transubstantiation and removing the doubts of the officiating priest. Julius II prayed before a relic of the miracle – the bloodstained corporal preserved in Orvieto Cathedral – before his victorious first expedition against Bologna in 1506. He is himself portrayed as the kneeling prelate being served communion by the doubting priest. His cousins Cardinal Raffaello Riario and Cardinal Leonardo Grosso della Rovere stand immediately behind him, while beneath them kneel the Vatican’s first Swiss Guard.
The subject of the Liberation of St Peter probably alludes to Julius as long-time Cardinal of San Pietro in Vincoli, where the chains of Peter are preserved (though it has occasionally been argued that the subject was chosen by Julius’s successor Leo X to commemorate his escape from the French after his capture at Ravenna). Raphael seems to have made St Peter – both in prison and after his release – a likeness of Julius.
The fresco of Attila repulsed from the Gates of Rome by Leo I was executed (or at least finished) after Julius’s death. The new Pope Leo X seems to appear twice – as Leo I on the white mule and as Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici at the extreme left. The fresco was probably executed in considerable part by Raphael’s workshop.
The four Old Testament scenes on the vault (Noah’s Thanksgiving after the Flood, Moses and the Burning Bush, the Sacrifice of Isaac and Jacob’s Dream) are less well preserved than the wall frescoes. Their execution has recently been attributed to Lotto from Raphael’s designs, with the grotesque ornament by Cesare da Sesto and Baldino Baldini.
Work seems to have started on the Stanza d’Eliodoro by July 1511, before the Stanza della Segnatura was finished. It was completed in 1514, the date under the Liberation of Peter. The room was reopened in 2013 after more than ten years of restoration.
The third Stanza decorated by Raphael and his assistants. The subjects, chosen by Leo X, are events in the time of Leo III and Leo IV. The room takes its name from the fresco illustrating the fire that broke out in Rome in 847, and was miraculously extinguished when Leo IV made the sign of the cross. This fresco was executed, in some part, by Raphael himself. The extent of Raphael’s participation in the other frescoes is uncertain, though according to Vasari his assistants ‘continued to work from his designs, while he supervised everything and gave the great project every help he could’. The decoration of the walls had started by July 1514 and was finished in 1517. The ceiling, representing the Glorification of the Holy Trinity, was painted earlier by Perugino, and was the only major work not destroyed when Raphael took over the redecoration of the Stanze. The room was restored in 1982-94.
Stanza di Constantino.
Although this room is included among the Raphael Stanze, he played little part in its decoration, which was carried out largely after his death by his studio assistants, headed by Giulio Romano. Raphael’s contribution is usually assumed to have been confined to some sketches for the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, the Allocution of Constantine and allegorical figures. However, according to a Vatican press release of 30 June 2017, researchers involved in the restoration of the room believe they have detected Raphael's own hand in the execution of two rather inconspicuous allegorical figures of Virtues. The figures – rendered in oil paint rather than fresco – represent Justice (to the right of the scene of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge and flanking the figure of Pope Urban I enthroned in a painted niche) and Friendship (to the right of the scene of the Vision of the Cross and flanking the enthroned Pope Clement I). The restoration of the room, begun in 2015, was completed in 2022.
Rome. Vatican. Loggia of Raphael.
The Loggia – the arcaded gallery that was originally the main way of access to the papal apartments – was begun by Bramante and completed after his death in 1514 by Raphael and his assistants and collaborators (including Giovanni da Udine who was responsible for the white stucco decoration). The gallery (65 metres long and 4 metres wide) is divided into thirteen bays, each with four little paintings in the vaults. The first twelve bays are decorated with Old Testament scenes and the thirteenth with Old Testament subjects. The work was finished by 16 June 1519. Vasari says that Raphael designed the scenes, but very few compositional sketches certainly by him are known. Most of the considerable number of surviving modelli were drawn by Gianfrancesco Penni. Since 1813 the paintings have been protected by glass, but they have suffered considerably from exposure.
Rome. Vatican. Cardinal Bibbiena's Bathroom.
Mythological Scenes and Grotesques.
The tiny vaulted room (only some eight foot square) was decorated by Raphael's workshop in 1516 for Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena as a stufetta or bathroom. The decoration imitated ancient Roman wall paintings, and includes small erotic scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses, grotesques and ornamental motifs. While Raphael may have made suggestions for the subjects and supervised the work, the scenes appear to have been designed and executed by his assistants (particularly the young Giulio Romano). The decoration, which was panelled over for a time, is very damaged. Some scenes have been vandalised and two have been destroyed. The room, which is on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace, is inaccessible to the public.
Rome. Galleria Borghese.
*Entombment. Wood, 184 x 176.
Commissioned by Atalanta Baglioni – possibly in remembrance of her son Grifonetto, who was murdered in 1500 in a family feud. Signed and dated 1507 – the year before Raphael left Florence for Rome. Originally in the church of San Francesco al Prato in Perugia, where it hung in a chapel (now demolished) next to the north transept. It was sold in March 1608 by the Franciscan friars to the young Cardinal Scipio Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V, who carried it off secretly to Rome in the night because of opposition from the people of Perugia. To put a stop to the continuing protests, the Pope issued a papal brief on 11 April ratifying his nephew's legal ownership of the painting. By way of compensation, Cardinal Borghese sent the Franciscan friars a copy of the Entombment, along with five silver lamps. The Cardinal made a payment to Giovanni Lanfranco for the copy, but his version was either never completed or is lost. The copy actually sent to Perugia was painted by Cavaliere d’Arpino, and is now in the gallery at Perugia, along with the pinnacle (cimasa) of the altarpiece (a God the Father often thought to have been executed by Domenico Alfani from Raphael’s design) and the frame. The predella (three panels representing the Theological Virtues) is in the Vatican Pinacoteca.
The large number of surviving drawings connected with the Entombment (sixteen are known, mainly in the British Museum and the Ashmolean) are evidence of the trouble that Raphael took over the composition, which is thought to have drawn on sources as diverse as Perugino’s Lamentation from Santa Chiara (now in the Pitti Palace), representations on antique sarcophagi of the legend of Meleager and Mantegna’s engraving of the Entombment. The figure of Christ is close to Michelangelo’s marble Pietà in St Peter’s, the seated woman on the right turning to catch the fainting Virgin is taken from the Madonna in Michelangelo’s Tondo Doni, and the figure of the bearded bearer third from the left (Joseph of Arimathea?) is taken from Michelangelo’s unfinished statue of St Matthew for Florence Cathedral. The final squared cartoon is in the Uffizi. Restoration in 2005 removed old retouchings and darkened varnish applied in 1972. Another restoration was completed at the end of 2020.
*Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn. Canvas (transferred), 65 x 51.
This lovely portrait, previously ascribed to Francesco Granacci or Ridolfo Ghirlandaio, was recognised as a work of Raphael by Longhi (1928). It had been painted over to represent St Catherine of Alexandria. In a restoration of 1935, the martyr’s wheel, palm and cloak were painstakingly removed by scraping with a scalpel, and the lady was found to be holding a little unicorn (traditional symbol of chastity) in her lap. X-rays have revealed that even the unicorn is not original: beneath it is a small dog (symbol of marital fidelity). The portrait was probably painted in Florence in about 1505-6, and the blue-eyed, fair-haired sitter is probably a bride. It seems to have been left unfinished by Raphael and completed by another artist (Giovanni Antonio Sogliani or Ridolfo Ghirlandaio?), who added the columns at the sides and the red velvet sleeves of the dress. The earliest record of the painting, in the 1682 inventory of Olimpia Aldobrandini’s collection, names neither the sitter nor the artist. The Aldobrandini inheritance passed to the Borghese family in 1769. A recent attempt has been made (by Linda Wolk-Simon in the catalogue of the Sublime Beauty exhibition held at San Francisco in 2016) to identify the sitter as Laura Orsini, the daughter of Alexander VI's mistress Giulia Farnese, who married Niccolò Franciotti della Rovere in November 1505 at the age of thirteen. The identification is hypothetical.
Portrait of a Man. Wood, 45 x 31.
This striking portrait of a powerful, bull-necked man – with a frontal pose unusual for Raphael, who generally preferred a three-quarter view – is recorded in a Borghese inventory of 1765 as a work of Raphael. It was later ascribed to Holbein; then attributed to Perugino (first by Mündler in 1869) on the strength of comparisons with the artist’s self-portrait in the Cambio at Perugia and his Portrait of Francesco delle Opera in the Uffizi; but re-attributed to Raphael, as an early work, in 1892 by Giovanni Morelli. The question of attribution is still unresolved. (The portrait was given to Perugino in the catalogue of an exhibition devoted to him at Perugia in 2004 but to Raphael in an exhibition featuring the newly cleaned portrait at the Borghese Gallery in 2006.) None of the various identifications of the sitter (including Perugino, Pintoricchio, Francesco Maria della Rovere and Serafino Aquiliano) has won general acceptance.
Rome. Galleria Doria-Pamphili.
*Portraits of Andrea Navagero and Agostino Beazzano. Canvas, 77 x 111.
Andrea Navagero and Agostino Beazzano were humanist poets and diplomats. Navagero was born in Venice in 1483. He was appointed to the prestigious post of state librarian in 1515, and later served as Venetian ambassador to Spain (1524-28) and France (1529). Beazzano, some ten years younger, was from Treviso. He accompanied Pietro Bembo to Rome in 1514, and served the Medici popes Leo X and Clement VII as a diplomat and advisor.
The magnificent double portrait shows the two friends bust-length, facing each other but with their eyes turned towards the viewer. It is identified with ‘the painting on wood of the portraits of Navagero and Beazzano … by the hand of Raphael of Urbino’ which the Venetian aristocrat Marcantonio Michiel saw in Pietro Bembo’s house in Padua in 1525. Navagero and Beazzano are known to have been in Rome in 1516, when in a letter of 3 April Bembo told Cardinal Bibbiena that he had visited Tivoli with them, Raphael and Castiglione. The portrait remained in Bembo’s house until 1538, when it passed to Beazzano. Listed in the 1603 inventory of Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini’s collection, it entered the Pamphili collection in 1647 through the marriage of Camillo Pamphili and Olimpia Aldobrandini. Passavant (1860) considered the picture merely a ‘Veneto copy’, and a number of subsequent critics also doubted its authenticity. However, it is now generally accepted as Raphael’s original.
Rome. Accademia di San Luca.
Putto with a Garland. Detached fresco, 114 x 42.
This fresco fragment repeats the putto to the left of Isaiah in the church of Sant’Agostino at Rome. It is said to have come from the room of Innocent VIII in the Vatican and to have been part of a shield bearing the papal arms. Its authenticity has sometimes been doubted. Bequeathed to the academy in 1834 by the French neoclassical painter and portraitist Jean-Baptiste Wicar, who had settled in Rome in 1800.
St Luke painting the Virgin. Canvas (transferred from panel), 220 x 160.
This curious picture portrays Raphael as heir to St Luke, the patron saint of artists. The youthful painter is shown standing behind St Luke's bull, as the saint works on a painting of the Virgin and Child, who have appeared to him in a vision. The unfinished painting on the easel resembles Raphael's Madonna di Granduca at the Pitti Palace. The picture was installed over the altar of the church of the Accademia di San Luca in October 1577, when the academy was founded. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it enjoyed considerable fame as a work of Raphael. It delighted Goethe, who wrote (7 March 1788) that 'it would be impossible to express more charmingly the way in which a man finds himself drawn to a particular vocation'. The attribution to Raphael was largely abandoned from the later nineteenth century, after Passavant (1860) and Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1882) had published the first serious monographs on the painter. According to most recent opinion, the picture was painted after Raphael's death, possibly by an artist still working in his studio. Attributions have been made, more specifically, to Gianfrancesco Penni and Federico Zuccaro. The picture – which was restored as early as 1571 and again around 1600 – is much damaged and repainted. (A photograph taken in 1952 during restoration work shows considerable paint losses, especially across the top of the picture, down the lower right-hand side and along the vertical joins in the original panel.) There is a copy of 1623 by Antiveduto Grammatica in the church of the Accademia di San Luca.
Rome. Villa Farnesina.
The villa was built in 1506-11 as the suburban residence of the hugely wealthy Sienese banker Agostino Chigi. It was designed by the Sienese painter-architect Baldassare Peruzzi, but other artists – Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo and later Sodoma – were brought in to execute parts of the fresco decoration.
Sala di Galatea.
**Galatea. Fresco, 295 x 225.
This lovely, light-hearted fresco probably dates from 1511-12 and is entirely the work of Raphael. The subject is taken from a verse (stanza 118) of Angelo Poliziano's poem La Giostra, which describes how the Cyclops Polyphemus sings a love song to the sea nymph Galatea, who rides across the waves in a chariot drawn by two dolphins, laughing at his lusty song. Poliziano's stanza was based, in turn, on a classical source: a description in Philostratus's Imagines of a painting of Galatea in a Roman villa in the Bay of Naples. Galatea’s graceful twisting pose seems to have been borrowed from Leonardo’s famous lost Leda (which, on the evidence of a drawing at Windsor Castle, Raphael studied in Florence). The curious paddlewheel attached to Galatea's seashell boat is a reference, possibly, to Agostino Chigi's mercantile fleet of paddlewheel ships. A companion fresco – painted by Sebastiano del Piombo in 1511 – shows Polyphemus piping on the Sicilian shore. A whole series of frescoes representing gods of the earth and sea were planned for the walls, but only these two were ever painted.
Loggia di Psiche.
*Story of Cupid and Psyche. Ceiling frescoes.
The loggia, originally the entrance to the villa, is now enclosed with glass. The ceiling is decorated with twelve scenes illustrating the classical fable of Cupid and Psyche. The first ten scenes are shown in the ten triangular pendentives. The subjects (beginning at the left end of the loggia) are: Venus pointing out Psyche to Cupid; Cupid with the Three Graces; Venus with Ceres and Juno; Venus flying to Jupiter in a Chariot drawn by Doves; Venus pleading with Jupiter; Mercury in Flight; Psyche drawing Water from the River Styx; Psyche delivering the Phial of Water to Venus; Cupid pleading with Jupiter for Psyche; and Mercury leading Psyche to Mount Olympus. The cycle concludes in the centre of the ceiling with two large rectangular scenes, which simulate tapestries stretched over a background of blue sky to form an awning. The first represents the Council of the Gods. Mercury confers immortality on Psyche by giving her a cup of ambrosia (left) and Jupiter (enthroned on the right with his wife Juno) gives Cupid permission to marry Psyche. The final scene represents the Wedding Feast of Cupid and Psyche. Psyche and Cupid are seated on the couch at the right end of the table. Jupiter, on their right, is served nectar by his cup-bearer Ganymede. The Graces sprinkle balm and the Hours scatter flowers. On the left, Venus dances, as Apollo plays his lyre and Pan his pipes. The fourteen spandrels are decorated with amoretti holding trophies and emblems. The garlands of vegetation are ripe with suggestively shaped fruits and vegetables (figs, courgettes, cucumbers, pumpkins, maise, apples, grapes and beans).
Vasari says that Raphael ‘made all the cartoons for the work himself and he himself also coloured many of the figures in fresco’. However, modern criticism attributes the execution almost wholly to assistants (Giulio Romano, Gianfrancesco Penni and Giovanni da Udine). Most of the twenty-five or so surviving drawings for the ceiling are attributed either to Raphael or to Giulio Romano, or are disputed between the two. The loggia was unveiled at the very end of 1518. There have been a number of restorations. The earliest was carried out in 1693 by the Baroque painter Carlo Maratta. The most recent was completed in 1997.
*Isaiah. Fresco, 205 x 155.
The Old Testament prophet holds a scroll with a quotation in Hebrew from the Book of Isaiah (26: 2-3). The fresco is painted on the flat side of the third pillar on the left side of the church. It was commissioned for the funerary altar of Johannes Goritz (Johann Küritz, Coritius or Corycius), a lawyer from Luxembourg who became a successful and wealthy member of the Roman Curia and a celebrated patron of the arts and letters. The inscription on the tablet held by two putti above Isaiah's head gives Goritz's name and a dedication in Greek to: 'Anne, Mother of the Virgin, to the Virgin, Mother of God, and to Christ the Redeemer'. The marble group of the Virgin and Child with St Anne was sculpted by Andrea Sansovino to stand beneath Raphael's fresco and above the altar. Goritz was to be buried in the church floor below. The altar was dedicated on 26 July 1512, the Feast of St Anne. Raphael's figure of the prophet, with its heavy musculature and massive drapery, was clearly influenced by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling, which was completed the same year. Goritz is said to have complained to Michelangelo that Raphael had overcharged him for the fresco and Michelangelo is said to have retorted: 'The knee alone is worth the price.'
The altar was destroyed in 1756-60 (when the church interior was remodelled in a late Baroque style by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli), and Sansovino's sculpture was moved to the second chapel in the left aisle. A hundred years later, Raphael's fresco was given a marble and bronze frame. Sansovino's sculpture has now been returned to its original position and the frame has been removed from Raphael's fresco. The first of many restorations of the fresco was executed around 1555-60 by Daniele da Volterra. A restoration in 1814 seems to have been especially heavy-handed. Old repaint (watercolour, tempera and – particularlly on the drapery – oil) was removed in 1959.
Rome. Santa Maria della Pace.
*Prophets and Sibyls. Fresco, 615 wide.
Commissioned by Agostino Chigi for the wall above his chapel (first on the right). Two pairs of Sibyls, with attendant angels who bring them revelations about the future, are painted on each side of the shallow archway. The pair on the left are conventionally identified as the Cumaean and Persian Sibyls and the pair on the right as the Phrygian and Tiburtine Sibyls; but there is no certainty that these identifications are correct. The two pairs of prophets above – Hosea and Jonah (to the left of the window) and Daniel and David (to the right) – were painted, according to Vasari, by Timoteo Viti to Raphael’s designs. Vasari, who describes the fresco as Raphael’s finest work, says that it was painted before Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling was shown to the public – which was in 1512 – but after Raphael had seen it himself. Modern historians have often preferred a slightly later dating (1513-14). The fresco is in poor condition. It was restored in 1656-61 (when the church was partly rebuilt by Pietro da Cortona) and treated again in 1816 (by the celebrated Roman restorer Pietro Palmaroli). It was cleaned in 2020, when the pilasters at the sides were uncovered. (The left pilaster retains traces of grotesque decoration.) The fresco can be best viewed, at eye level, through a window from the balcony of Bramante's cloister adjoining the church.
An altarpiece of the Resurrection of Christ, was planned to stand on the altar beneath the fresco. Raphael made a number of drawings for the altarpiece (including a sketch, now at Bayonne, for the overall composition), but the picture was never executed. Some ten years after Raphael's death, on 1 August 1530, Sebastiano del Piombo contracted to paint the altarpiece, but he too failed to fulfill the commission, and the present altarpiece (a bronze Deposition by Cosimo Fancelli) dates from the seventeenth century.
Rome Santa Maria del Popolo. Chigi Chapel.
Dome Mosaics: God the Father and Celestial Spheres.
In the oculus of the dome, a circular mosaic represents God the Father, with his arms outstretched, accompanied by putti. The blue background creates the illusion that the viewer is looking through an opening to the heavens. In the eight trapezoid panels around the dome, the mosaics represent symbols of the eight celestial spheres – Diana (the moon), Mercury, Venus, Apollo (the sun), Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the Fixed Stars – guided by angels. The usual interpretation is that God is represented in the act of creating the universe. An alternative interpretation is that God is welcoming the souls of the departed (including those of the patron Agostino Chigi and his brother Sigismondo, who were to be interred in the chapel). The mosaics were executed from Raphael’s cartoons by the Venetian Luigi de Pace (whose initials and the date 1516 are inscribed beneath the planet Venus).
Raphael was also the architect of the chapel, which was unfinished at his death and only completed in the mid-seventeenth century. According to Vasari, the statues of Jonah and Elijah were designed by Raphael and sculpted by Lorenzetto. (The other two Prophets in the corner niches are by Bernini.) The curious pyramidal tombs of Agostino and Sigismondo Chigi formed part of Raphael’s original design, but were altered by Bernini.
St Petersburg. Hermitage.
*‘Conestabile Madonna’. Canvas (transferred in 1871), 18 in dia.
A tondo, with grotesques in the corner spandrels. The tiny panel and frame were originally in one piece. An early work, probably dating from the end of Raphael’s Umbrian period (1503-4). According to tradition, it was painted in Perugia for Alfano di Diamante. It remained in Perugia for almost four centuries, passing by descent and marriage to Count Scipione Conestabile della Staffa, whose family palazzo, on Via delle Prome, now houses the Augusta Library. When the Count ran into financial difficulties, he sold the picture in 1870 for 310,000 francs to Alexander II, who presented it to his wife the Empress Maria Alexandrovna, who bequeathed it to the Hermitage in 1880. When the little tondo arrived in St Petersburg, the panel was found to be badly cracked and the painting was immediately transferred to canvas. The original underdrawing revealed by the transfer showed the Child holding an apple or pomegranate rather than a book.
Holy Family. Canvas (transferred), 73 x 57.
Sometimes called the ‘Madonna with the Beardless Joseph’. Usually dated about 1505-06. Its history cannot be traced beyond the seventeenth century, when it belonged to the Duke of Angoulême in Paris. Acquired by Catherine the Great in 1772 with the Crozat collection. It is said to have been extensively restored in the seventeenth century. It was transferred from panel to canvas in 1827, and is much damaged. The attribution has sometimes been doubted (eg. by Berenson, who accepted the picture as Raphael’s only ‘in part’ in his early Lists and omitted it entirely in 1968). The 1994 Hermitage catalogue cites the underdrawing revealed by X-rays as evidence of Raphael’s authorship.
São Paolo. Museu de Arte.
Resurrection of Christ. Wood, 52 x 44.
Ascribed to Raphael as one of his earliest works (about 1501-2). Attributions to Perugino (or a follower), Evangelista da Pian di Meleto and Timoteo Viti have also been proposed. The composition seems to have been inspired by Perugino’s altarpiece of 1499 for San Francesco al Prato (now in the Vatican). First noticed by Wilhelm Bode (1880) in the collection of Lord Kinnaird at Rossie Priory, Perthshire. It remained at Rossie Priory until 1946, when it was sold at Christie’s for 600 gns. Acquired by the São Paolo Museum (through Knoedler’s of New York) in 1954. Two silverpoint studies at Oxford for guards in the picture are attributed to Raphael, and suggest that he contributed to the design (if not necessarily to the execution).
Urbino. Galleria Nazionale.
*Portrait of a Lady in Green (‘La Muta’). Wood, 64 x 48.
The serious, thin-faced, still youngish woman is posed very like the Mona Lisa, but against a plain dark background. Details of her fashionable costume – such as the diaphanous scarf draped over her sloping shoulders, the minute embroidery on the neckline, sleeve and cuff, the gold chain casting a shadow on her pale skin, and the ruby, sapphire and enamelled rings on her slender fingers – are meticulously observed. There are no early references to this beautiful portrait or convincing theories as to the sitter’s identity. The attribution to Raphael dates back to Johann Passavant’s classic 1860 biography of the artist. It has occasionally been challenged. In the first half of the twentieth century a number of critics (including Berenson in his 1907-32 Lists) gave the portrait to Perugino, while an attribution to Giuliano Bugiardini was advanced by Sydney Freedberg in his 1961 Painting of the High Renaissance in Rome and Florence and accepted by Laura Pagnotti in her 1987 monograph on Bugiardini. However, La Muta is now generally accepted as a work of Raphael’s Florentine period (about 1506-7), related in style and composition to the Maddalena Dona and La Gravida (Pitti) and the Lady with a Unicorn (Borghese).
The portrait is first recorded in an inventory of the Pitti Palace drawn up in 1702-10, and was transferred to the Uffizi in 1773 from the Medici villa at Poggio a Caiano. It was initially loaned to Urbino in 1927, following an appeal to Benito Mussolini that the city – Raphael's birthplace – should possess a painting by the artist. It returned to Florence in 1940 for an exhibition and remained there for the rest of the War, but was transferred to Urbino again in 1947 after a new government decree. It was stolen, along with Piero della Francesca’s Madonna and Flagellation, in February 1975 but recovered undamaged the following year at Lacarno in Switzerland. X-rays have revealed under the present portrait an earlier one of a woman younger, with softer features and wearing a lower-cut dress. The painting (executed on a thin limewood panel, which has been damaged by woodworm) was restored in 2012-15.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Wood, 38 x 15.
She is depicted as a blonde beauty, wearing a yellow cloak over a mauve dress flecked with gold, standing on a spiked wheel and holding a martyr's palm. On the back of the panel, which is painted to imitate marble, a Latin inscription in a blue circle reads: 'May the Virgin be Blessed'. Attributed to Raphael as an early work, painted either in Umbria around 1503 or in Florence around 1504. A companion panel (38 x 14) of Saint Mary Magdalene (or Mary of Egypt) was also formerly in the hands of Conte Contini Bonacossi at Florence. The two slender panels may have formed the wings of a small altarpiece or folding triptych. The Saint Catherine was formerly in the collection of the Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and was sold by his widow Imelda to the Italian government (through Christie’s) in 1991 for $1,650,000. The Saint Mary Magdalene was sold at Christie’s in 2000 for $611,000 and is now in the Alana collection at Newark, Delaware. The two panels were reunited in an exhibition (Le Pérugin: Maître de Raphael) held at the Jacquemart André Museum, Paris, in 2014-15. They do not appear to be in very good condition.
Urbino. Casa di Raffaello.
Seated Madonna with Sleeping Child. Fresco 97 x 67.
The fresco, painted in the house where Raphael is assumed to have spent his childhood, is damaged and restored. The (optimistic) attribution to the youthful Raphael was made in 1955 by Roberto Longhi. Formerly the fresco had been regarded as the work of his father, Giovanni Santi.
Vienna. Kunsthistorisches Museum.
*‘Madonna in the Meadow’ ('Madonna im Grünen'). Wood, 113 x 88.
The Virgin is seated on the ground like a ‘Madonna of Humility’. The Child, supported between her down-stretched hands, takes the reed cross offered by the kneeling St John. The picture is well preserved, though the green fields that gave it its popular name have now turned very brown. The flowers, poppies and wild strawberries, allude to Christ’s Passion and Redemption. Signed, and inscribed with a date that could be read as 1505 or 1506, in the embroidery on the Virgin's neckline. One of two Madonnas mentioned by Vasari as painted for Taddeo Taddei. Taddei, a wealthy cloth merchant who built a palazzo (15, Via Ginori) near San Lorenzo, also owned MIchelangelo's unfinished marble Tondo Taddei (Royal Academy, London). His descendants sold the painting in 1662 to the Archduke Ferdinand Karl of Austria, and it was transferred in 1773 from Ambras Castle at Innsbruck to the Imperial collection at Vienna. The composition was probably inspired by Leonardo’s lost cartoon of the Madonna and Child with St Anne, which Leonardo used for the painting in the Louvre.
*Saint Margaret. Canvas (transferred), 178 x 122.
The legendary martyr, dressed in shimmering blue, gazes down at the gaping mouth of the snake-like dragon. She holds the crucifix that caused the dragon to burst asunder after it swallowed her. It is not known who commissioned the picture, but it is mentioned by the Venetian patrician and collector Marcantonio Michiel in 1528 in the house of Zuanantonio Venier and is said to have been a gift from Raphael to an abbot of San Benedetto. It was one of a dozen or so pictures purchased from Michele Priuli, Procurator of St Mark's, by the British diplomat Basil Feilding on behalf of his brother-in-law the Duke of Hamilton. After Hamilton's execution in 1649, some 400 of his pictures were acquired in unknown circumstances by the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. In David Tenier's paintings of the Archduke's picture gallery at Brussels (versions at Vienna, the Prado and Petworth House), the Saint Margaret is prominently placed on the floor in the foreground.
Passavant – in his pioneering two-volume monograph on Raphael (published in German in 1839 and in English in 1860) – saw the hand of Giulio Romano, and this attribution was accepted by much subsequent opinion. The recent tendency has been to attribute the design (and possibly underdrawing) to Raphael, but assign the execution partly or wholly to either Giulio Romano or Gianfrancesco Penni. There is a variant (executed largely by Giulio Romano according to Vasari) in the Louvre. Both versions probably date from around 1518.
Holy Family with the Infant St John (no. 174). Wood, 155 x 114.
The subject is probably the Rest on the Flight into Egypt. The Holy Family is shown at evening under a palm tree, and Joseph holds the reins of the donkey. The little St John kneels with a basket of fruit. The picture, dating from around 1513-14, was probably designed by Raphael, but executed largely or wholly by assistants. Recorded in 1565 in the collection of Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan. Sold in 1584 to the church of Santa Maria presso San Celso and acquired for the Imperial Gallery at Vienna in 1779. A sheet of red chalk studies by Raphael for the figure of the Christ Child was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum, New York, in 1997. There is another version of the painting in the Borghese Gallery, Rome.
Vienna. Liechtenstein Museum.
Portrait of a Man. Wood, 47 x 37.
Once supposed to be a portrait of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro on the basis of a later inscription on the back. The poorly defined dark band running across the bottom half of the background may have been intended to represent a parapet or wall. The surface has a marked craquelure. The picture has a Bolognese provenance, and was once ascribed to Francesco Francia. Crowe and Cavalcaselle (1885) seem to have been the first to suggest that it might be an early work of Raphael. The attribution has attracted occasional support (eg. from Roberto Longhi and from Berenson in his 1932 and 1968 Lists), without winning general acceptance. The portrait was presented as a work of Raphael of around 1502-3 in the 2006 exhibition Raffaello da Firenze a Roma at the Galleria Borghese, and it was also included as an autograph early portrait in the Raphael 1520-1483 exhibition planned for 2020 at the Scuderie del Quirnale and in the exhibition Il Meglio Maestro d'Italia: Perugino nel suo Tempo held at Perugia in 2023. Formerly owned by the Marchese Giacomo Bovio of Bologna, it was acquired by Prince Johann I of Liechtenstein in 1823.
Washington. National Gallery of Art.
*Saint George and the Dragon. Wood, 29 x 21.
Signed on the breast strap of the horse. The blue garter on St George’s knee is inscribed with the word Honi – the first word of the motto of the Order of the Garter (Honi soit qui mai y pense). Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, was created a knight of the chivalric order in 1504 by Henry VII, and it has been usually supposed that the Duke commissioned the painting as a present for the English King. (It could have been brought from Urbino to Henry VII by Baldassare Castiglione in July 1506, or it could have been given to Sir Gilbert Talbot, who brought the insignia of the Garter to Guidobaldo in Rome in autumn 1504.) An alternative hypothesis is that the painting was not a gift to the King directly but was painted for his emissary Gilbert Talbot. The picture is first certainly recorded in 1627 in the possession of the Duke of Pembroke; there is no record of its having been in the Royal Collection before its acquisition by Charles I (who obtained it in exchange for a book of Holbein’s portrait drawings). Valued at £150 in the ‘Commonwealth Sale’ at Somerset House in 1651, it was acquired by the Marquis de Sourdis from the English buyer and later passed into the Crozat collection. Acquired by Catherine the Great (through Denis Diderot) in 1772 for the Hermitage. Sold secretly by the Soviet government in 1931 to the American billionaire and Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. Raphael’s other small panel of this subject, in the Louvre, may be a year or two earlier.
*‘Small Cowper Madonna’. Wood, 60 x 44.
The fair-haired Virgin, who is very like the Madonna del Granduca at the Pitti, seems abstracted in contemplation or prayer. The restless Child stands with his arm around her neck, one foot on her knee and the other on her right hand. The doomed church in the background is probably San Bernardino dei Zoccolanti near Urbino. Usually dated around 1505, the picture is possibly one of two ‘small but very beautiful Madonnas in his second manner’ which Vasari records that Raphael painted for Guidobaldo da Montefeltro. It was acquired by George Nassau Clavering-Cowper, 3rd Earl Cowper, in Florence around 1780. After Cowper's death in 1789, his collection was shipped to England and, from the early nineteenth century, was hung at the family seat at Panshanger, near Hertford. The Madonna remained there until 1913, when it was sold to Duveen. It was bought the following year for the huge price of £116,500 ($565,000) by Peter Widener of Philadelphia, whose son Joseph bequeathed it to the Washington gallery in 1942. Cleaning in 1983 removed darkened varnish and extensive repaint, and revealed the stone wall behind the figures. An unfinished version (known as the 'Peruzzi Madonna') is identical in composition and appears to have been based on the same cartoon. It was sold at Christie's, New York, in October 2018 with an attribution to 'Raphael or close associate'.
*'Large Cowper Madonna’ (Niccolini-Cowper Madonna'). Wood, 81 x 57.
The Child sits astride a pillow on the Virgin’s knee and playfully clutches the neck of her bodice. Signed with Raphael’s initials and dated 1508 on the neckline (and therefore painted either at the end of Raphael’s Florentine period or at the very beginning of his Roman period). Unusually well preserved. First documented in 1677 in the Casa Niccolini at Florence. It was acquired around 1772 by the German portrait painter Johann Joseph Zoffany, who sold it to Earl Cowper a few years later. (Zoffany's famous painting of the Tribuna of the Uffizi (Royal Collection) shows both Earl Cowper and Zoffany himself among a group of aristocratic connoisseurs admiring the picture on an easel.) The Large Cowper Madonna remained at Panshanger until 1928, when it was sold to Duveen. Bought in the same year for the enormous price of $836,670 by Andrew Mellon. Given to the National Gallery in 1937.
*‘Alba Madonna’. Canvas (transferred), 95 in dia.
The Virgin is dressed in classical fashion in flowing robes, turban and sandals. The Christ Child takes the cross from the little St John, symbolising his acceptance of his future sacrifice. The anemones in St John’s arms symbolise the Resurrection. Painted during Raphael’s early years in Rome (1509-11). The tondo has a complicated history. It is sometimes said to have been painted for Paolo Giovio, Bishop of Nocera. It is also said to have been removed from the sacristy of St Peter’s during the Sack of Rome. By 1610, it was hanging over the high altar of the Olivetan church of Santa Maria del Albino at Nocera del Pagani, near Naples. It was acquired in 1686 by the Spanish Viceroy Gasparo de Haro, the Marchese del Carpi. It was inherited by his daughter, who married the Duke of Alba, and it remained for more than a century at the Alba family palace at Madrid (hence its popular name). It was sold in 1802 to the Danish Ambassador, Count Edmund de Bourke, and then bought in 1820 for £4,000 by the London banker William G. Coesveldt, who sold it for £14,000 in 1836 to Tsar Nicholas I. It was at the Hermitage until 1931, when it was sold to Mellon for $1,116,000, the highest price then paid for a painting. The recent restoration (for the Raphael exhibition at the National Gallery, London, in 2004-5) has recovered the beautiful pale pastel colours. There is a preparatory study for the Virgin's elegantly languid pose – a red chalk life drawing of a male model – at Lille.
*Portrait of Bindo Altoviti. Wood, 60 x 44.
The young man, dressed in a loose blue robe and with long fair hair curling down the nape of his neck, holds his hand above his heart and turns to look at the spectator. Vasari records that Raphael painted a portrait of Bindo Altoviti (1491-1557) as a young man. The Altoviti were a wealthy Florentine banking family, and Bindo inherited the Roman branch of the business in 1507 at the age of only sixteen. The portrait, which Vasari describes as stupendissimo, is usually believed to belong to Raphael’s last period; but, in the catalogue to the 2004 Bindo Altoviti exhibition at Boston and Florence, David Alan Brown argues for an earlier date of about 1512. The portrait was often attributed to Giulio Romano in the past, but it is now generally accepted as an authentic Raphael.
Other portraits of Bindo Altoviti include a famous bronze bust of 1549 by Benvenuto Cellini (Gardner Museum, Boston) and a painting probably dating from early 1550s by Jacopino del Conte (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts). A portrait of Altoviti on marble was recently donated to the Metropolitan Museum, New York. (The portrait, which probably dates from the 1540s, was sold at Sotheby's in 2008 as a work of Girolamo da Carpi, but exhibited in 2021 at the Metropolitan Museum (The Medici: Portraits and Politics 1512-70) with an attribution to Francesco Salviati.)
The Washington portrait remained with the Altoviti family, at Rome and Florence, for nearly three hundred years. In 1808, it was sold (as a self-portrait of Raphael) to Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria. It was in the Alte Pinakothek at Munich from 1838 until 1938, when it was sold to Agnew. Acquired by Samuel H. Kress in 1940 from Duveen.
Worcester (Massachusetts). Art Museum.
Virgin and Child ('Northbrook Madonna'). Wood, 58 x 43.
This small Madonna was probably acquired in Italy in the early eighteenth century by the English diplomat Sir Paul Methuen, and it takes its popular title from a subsequent owner, the Victorian statesman Thomas Baring, 1st Earl of Northbrook. It was acquired in 1927 by the American multimillionaire businessman (and bon vivant) Theodore T. Ellis, whose collection was bequeathed by his widow to the Worcester museum in 1940. It was once often accepted as an authentic work of Raphael's Florentine period. (The design is especially closely related to that of the Small Cowper Madonna of around 1505 at Washington.) However, the handling seems too pedestrian for the picture to be an autograph work. The picture might have been designed by Raphael but then painted or completed by a collaborator or assistant. This possibility is strengthened by the existence (at Montpellier and Oxford) of two drawings that appear to be studies by Raphael for the head of the Virgin and the arms of the Christ Child. Various associates and imitators of Raphael (including Eusebio da San Giorgio, Domenico Alfani and Timoteo Viti) have been suggested as possible executants; but none of these suggestions has won acceptance, and the Worcester museum currently catalogues the picture simply under the 'Master of the Northbrook Madonna'.