Dec 11
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino - the true universal genius of the High Renaissance - 3 PDF Печат Е-поща
Неделя, 12 Ноември 2017г. 21:36ч.

Raphael, ‘Compositional study’ (Modello for the lower left side of the Disputa, Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican Museums), 1509. Brush, wash and white heightening over black chalk, squared in stylus. Photo: © The Albertina Museum, ViennaCommissions for Agostino Chigi

In addition to the pope, Raphael’s most important client in Rome was the banker and merchant Agostino Chigi, one of the richest men of the Renaissance. Raphael’s first large commission was the decoration of the Chigi Chapel in Santa Maria della Pace. The frescoes in the upper zone depict four prophets, which were probably painted by Raphael’s childhood friend, Timoteo Viti (1469-1523), based on drafts by the master. Adorning the front side of the lower zone above the altar niche are Raphael’s famous sibyls, accompanied by angels. Four of the most beautiful preliminary drawings for them are presented in this exhibition. All of them are executed in red chalk, with which Raphael modelled the forms in precisely drawn lines that intersect in the shadowy areas. Red chalk lends the drawing colour and radiance. Although most scholars have pointed out the influence of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, there are also principal differences between Michelangelo’s contemplative and isolated figures and Raphael’s joyful, lively linked sibyls, who are inspired by the angels. While Julius II was away from Rome for several months, Raphael seems to have devoted his time to the drawings for the Chigi Chapel in addition to his work in the Stanza della Segnatura.

For the altar in the chapel he planned a Resurrection of Christ. The pen-and-ink drawings in Lille and Frankfurt are probably early ideas for this painting, which, however, was never executed.

The Stanza di Eliodoro

Upon completion of his frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura, Raphael started working on the decoration of the Stanza di Eliodoro, which adjoined it on the west and probably served as a papal audience chamber. Created between 1511 and 1514, these large wall paintings are not allegories but rather illustrate specific scenes from the Old Testament, the Acts of the Apostles and early Christian and medieval events. In the latter, the Church struggled with external and internal enemies and emerged victorious through the miraculous intervention of the Almighty over his adversaries. The scenes could serve as examples of God’s support of a threatened papacy. We repeatedly find references to actual events that occurred during the reign of Pope Julius II, whom Raphael added in the form of portraits in some of the wall paintings.

The studies are related to a fresco, in which Raphael, following the account in The Second Book of the Maccabees (3:23-40), rendered the story of how the chancellor Heliodorus (II Century BC) tried to steal the treasure set aside by widows and orphans in the Temple in Jerusalem. A fearsome heavenly horseman, who suddenly appeared in the company of two young men, prevented the theft.

In these preliminary drawings, Raphael used black chalk, which is extremely variable with regard to the width, transparency and tonal intensity of the lines. In contrast to the strictly linear studies for the School of Athens, Raphael’s lines now possess a lively modelling power, adapting themselves to the flow of the body. This becomes particularly obvious in the case of the horse’s head on the fragment of the cartoon from which the artist transferred the composition onto the wall.

Raphael, ‘The Vision of Ezekiel’, 1516-1517. Oil on wood. Photo: © Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Uffizi, Florenz: Gabinetto Fotografico delle Gallerie degli UffiziThe Chigi Chapels

In 1507 Pope Julius II had granted permission to Agostino Chigi to acquire a chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo and turn it into a mausoleum for himself and his relatives. Raphael probably did not begin work on the reconstruction of the chapel until after 1511. It was not finished in his lifetime but only later, when Pope Alexander VII commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) to complete it. Nonetheless the chapel, which was inspired by Bramante’s crossing in Saint Peter’s Basilica and the entrance area of the Pantheon, completely reflects Raphael’s architectural intentions. With his decoration, consisting of multi-coloured marble ornamentation all’antica, paintings, sculptures, gilded stucco and shining mosaics, Raphael created a unique Gesamtkunstwerk.

While The Annunciation in the Albertina may be an early idea for a painting in one of the lunettes, the two red-chalk drawings in Oxford are studies for the cupola mosaics, which were executed by Luigi de Pace in 1516 and feature God the Father in the central oculus and the seven planetary gods and fixed stars in the side fields.

During that period, Raphael occupied himself once again with the projects for the Resurrection of Christ altarpiece in the Chigi Chapel in Santa Maria della Pace. The prophets and sibyls announce this event with the texts written on their tablets and scrolls, and the bronze tondi, which were to be installed on the sides of the chapel, also refer to the theme of the altarpiece. In addition to compositional studies, a series of significant black-chalk drawings of the individual soldiers has been preserved for the Resurrection of Christ, which, however, was never executed as a painting.

Raphael, The Virgin with the Blue Diadem, 1511. Oil on wood. Photo: Musée du Louvre, Paris: © Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Martine Beck-CoppolaRaphael’s Madonnas

Throughout his entire creative period, Raphael occupied himself with the theme of the Mother of God and the Divine Child, who is obliviously immersed in play. This is a surprising motif because, according to Christian doctrine, God never acts without cause, even if we can understand his motives only incompletely or not at all: being God is a serious matter. Raphael’s perception of Deus ludens, the playful God, often amusing himself with symbols of the Passion, hardly fits this concept. Raphael’s portrayal of the profound basic human need for unconcern in these Mother-and-Child depictions is an expression of the new Humanism in Italy.

These compositions frequently take the most simple form: the familiar gathering of Mother and Child, sometimes joined by the Infant Saint John the Baptist. With the inclusion of Saint Joseph they form a Holy Family, and with the addition of other saints, they result in a sacra conversazione rich in figures.

In Raphael’s early Umbrian period, the Madonna often appears prominently as a half-length figure. In Florence, his pictorial formats become larger, and the saints are also depicted full- length in a vast, living landscape that no longer merely serves as a backdrop. Often, the compositions are structured in accordance with the triangular or pyramidal scheme popular in Florence at the time. In Rome, the figure ideal of the Madonna changed once again, with remnants of antique buildings, reliefs or sculptures often enlivening the background. Raphael occupied himself with all the forms of representation of the Virgin Mary, that is, the type of the Madonna Lactans (nursing), the Madonna Eleusa (showing mercy) and the Madonna dell ́Umiltà (sitting on the ground). During his time in Rome, he frequently used the motif of the Virgin Mary lifting the veil from the divine countenance of the Saviour, for example, in his Madonna with the Blue Diadem. Raphael transformed the traditional types into completely new pictorial concepts in which he expressed the close emotional bond between Mother and Child in virtually inexhaustible variations. At the same time, the purely human element always reflects the unique, wonderful and inviolable nature of the Son of God and his Mother.

Tapestries for the Pope

In 1513 Giovanni de’Medici (1475-1521) succeeded the late Julius II as Pope Leo X (1475-1521). Within his first year in office, he commissioned Raphael to create a tapestry series, depicting scenes from the lives of Peter and Paul as described in the Acts of the Apostles. The series consisted of ten monumental tapestries, which were hung on the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel on festive occasions. The four scenes from the life of Peter start with Christ’s Charge to Peter and end with The Death of Ananias, while the six-part Pauline series begins with The Stoning of Saint Stephen and concludes with Saint Paul Preaching in Athens. Raphael painted large drafts on which the composition had to appear in mirror image as compared to the tapestries, which were woven in the workshop of Pieter van Aelst (1502-1550) in Brussels based on these cartoons. Inspired by Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, Raphael created a new, great Apostolic ideal in these tapestries. It depicts Christ’s first disciples in all their originality, dignified simplicity, strength and determination, and continues to shape our perception of their work down to the present day.

Raphael, ‘Apostle Head’ (Study for 'Transfiguration'), 1519-1520. Black chalk above traces of preliminary metal pencil drawing. Photo: © The Albertina Museum, ViennaRaphael’s Loggias

The Vatican loggias are on the second floor of a four-storey wing, located at the front of the Vatican Palace. Bramante was originally entrusted with their design and execution, later continued by Raphael. The loggias consist of thirteen bays, the walls of which are adorned with antique-like decorations. The vaults contain frescoes with biblical scenes, from the Creation to the salvation through Christ. Biblical history and ornamentation all’antica complement one another in a marvellous manner in these loggias, which Raphael decorated between 1517 and 1519. Because he was too busy working on other commissions, the artist involved his workshop assistants and hired young painters on a short-term basis for this large project.

In his studies for the fifty-four vault scenes, the artist focused on creating the greatest possible clarity in his compositions so that the viewer would immediately understand their content when looking at them from a great distance. The central figures are emphasized by simplified movements and sweeping, pronounced gestures. Raphael rendered the bodies in generalizing terms, dispensing with anatomical precision.

In the past, the summary style of the loggia drawings, condensing the image of the event, has been considered to be incompatible with Raphael. The master, however, deliberately chose simplicity in order to make the complex events, including interpersonal relationships, immediately comprehensible.

Villa Farnesina

In 1505 the immensely rich banker Agostino Chigi had commissioned Baldassare Peruzzi (1481-1536) to build a Roman villa on the banks of the Tiber, for which he had subsequently hired various painters to decorate. Whenever possible, however, he sought to obtain works by Raphael. As early as 1512, the artist created The Triumph of Galatea in the building now known as Villa Farnesina.

A second decorative phase took place as a result of Chigi’s marriage in August 1519 to Francesca Ordeaschi, whom Agostino had abducted from Venice in 1511 and placed in a convent in Rome. Raphael and his workshop painted the vaulted ceiling of the garden loggia, which served as an open banquet hall. The frescoes illustrate events from the lives of Cupid and Psyche, based on the tale The Golden Ass by the antique author Apuleius. Their love affair caused Venus’s anger, and Psyche had to pass a series of test before she was finally rewarded with immortality, and the couple with a wedding celebration on Mount Olympus.

The bedroom of the villa is decorated with scenes from the life of Alexander the Great. In Raphael’s hand are the studies for The Marriage of Alexander and Roxane, which alludes to the misalliance between Agostino Chigi and Francesca Ordeaschi, who came from a humble background. The artist probably did not have time to paint the fresco himself, and thus Agostino hired the Sienese painter Sodoma, who based his painting on Raphael’s design.

Exhibition view. Raphael, ‘Study of head and hand’, 1519-1520. Black chalk. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. Photo: © artnovini.comThe Transfiguration

The Transfiguration is Raphael’s last great panel painting and his artistic legacy. It was commissioned around 1516/17 by Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, the later Pope Clement VII (1478-1534), for his episcopal church in Narbonne and created as part of an artistic contest, competing with Sebastiano del Piombo’s Raising of Lazarus (now in the National Gallery, London), which the artist painted with the help of preliminary drawings by Michelangelo.

When Raphael died on 6 April 1520 at the young age of thirty-seven, the Transfiguration was finished. It was placed next to the coffin at the height of the artist’s head, and „the sight of this living work of art next to the dead master filled everyone’s soul with sorrow” (Giorgio Vasari).

The artist carefully prepared the painting and made various compositional and thematic changes in the course of the design process. Initially, he planned to depict only the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor, an idea documented by the sheet of a pupil in the Albertina.

In its final form the painting depicts two separate, yet successive events from the Gospels, the Transfiguration of Christ and the Healing of a Possessed Boy. Among Raphael’s most magnificent drawings are the group of studies in which he rendered the heads of the Apostles in every detail. In them, he explored the expressive potential of black chalk to the full, vigorously sketching the shocks of hair and modelling the faces with soft lines and velvety, smudged hatching. Raphael paid particular attention to the shaded areas in order to ensure that the heads lost none of their liveliness. What is unique is the spontaneity and expressiveness of these deeply religious and at the same time emotionally bewildered and doubting Apostles, whose faith was not strong enough to achieve what only the healing power of the Saviour was able to do.

The Coronation of Charlemagne
and the Oath of Leo III

The frescoes on the western and eastern wall of the Stanza dell’Incendio depict the coronation of Charlemagne (Charles the Great; 742-814) as emperor by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day 800 and an event that occurred two days earlier. At a synod convoked by Charlemagne, Leo III claimed that he was unjustly accused of crimes. When the clerics had confirmed that none of the gathered dignitaries had the right to judge the pope, Leo voluntarily swore an oath to affirm his innocence.

Both wall paintings symbolize the unconditional superiority of the Church over secular power and thus glorify the absolute power of the papacy. The depictions of The Coronation of Charlemagne and The Oath of Leo III are in keeping with the papal ceremony valid in the early sixteenth century and feature contemporaneous requisites and garments. In his studies, Raphael emphasizes the central moments of the action. The precious liturgical vestments lend the bishops and cardinals solemn dignity, and clear, sacred light fills the entire space with a unique, solemn atmosphere, lending the events greater moral and spiritual significance. The frescoes were executed largely with the assistance of pupils, who placed greater emphasis on the external display of splendour than on the uniform pictorial effect intended by Raphael.

The Hall of Constantine

The decoration in the Hall of Constantine was Raphael’s last and at the same time largest project in the Vatican Palace but essentially was not carried out until after his death in 1520 by his pupils Giulio Romano (c.1499-1546) and Giovanni Francesco Penni (1488/1496-1528). Adjacent to the pope’s private chambers, the large hall served for festive banquets, ceremonies and official audiences and as a meeting room for congregations of cardinals.

The monumental wall paintings in the Sala depict four scenes from the life of Constantine (c. 272-337 AD) that seem to be suspended like feigned tapestries between the niches, in which popes are seen enthroned.

While The Battle of the Milvian Bridge in the south and the Adlocutio in the east, including the adjoining papal groups, are still based on drafts by Raphael, The Donation of Constantine and The Baptism of Constantine were painted only later by his pupils and based on their own ideas.

The black-chalk studies for the soldiers in The Battle of the Milvian Bridge and the Charity Group presented here are among the most beautiful examples of Raphael’s late drawing style. The artist drew the lines in an extremely economical manner, using hatching that he applied in varying degrees of thickness and often smudged, with parallel lines placed on top of it. The hatching fluidly merges and is accompanied by highlights that follow a dynamic course. As compared to the nude studies for the frescoes in the Stanza dell’Incendio, the musculature is no longer individually defined. Instead, the movements seem extremely organic, an effect further enhanced by the sweeping contours.

Raphael, ‘Self-Portrait’, 1506. Oil on wood. Photo: © Galleria degli Uffizi Florenz, Gabinetto Fotografico delle Gallerie degli Uffizi* * *


Raffaello Santi is born in Urbino in 1483.

Even during his lifetime Raffaello (English: Raphael) was known primarily by his first name. Today he is considered one of the greatest painters in art history. The most important collectors acquired his drawings and prized them as their greatest treasures, among them Duke Albert von Sachsen-Teschen, the founder of the Albertina, who during his life acquired more than 50 drawings by one of the greatest masters of the High Renaissance. Raphael’s father, Giovanni Santi, is also a painter. Raphael is eight years old in 1491 when his mother dies. He receives his first artistic training from his father. After the latter’s death in 1494, Raphael enters the workshop of Pietro Perugino, in whose graceful figures he finds significant inspiration.

In 1500, Raphael, who is already working as an independent master, receives his first commission for an altarpiece in Città di Castello. In the years that follow, the artist executes a number of paintings in Umbria, among them the celebrated Pala Oddi. Starting in 1502, Raphael begins collaborating with the painter Pinturicchio, who is also working in Umbria. Raphael creates preliminary drawings for various works of this artist, who is thirty years his senior. These include studies for frescoes in the library adjoining Siena Cathedral with scenes from the life of the Humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini (later Pope Pius II).

In 1504 Raphael travels to Florence, where he studies works by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, taking a special interest in their monumental battle scenes for the Palazzo della Signoria: The Battle of Anghiari and The Battle of Cascina. He is also profoundly influenced by the art of the great Florentine sculptors and by the paintings of Fra Bartolommeo.

Raphael is not commissioned to paint monumental frescoes at this time, but he does create important pictures of the Madonna, in which he abandons the style of his Umbrian master, Perugino. Raphael adopts the latest Florentine style, which attempts to achieve complete harmony by using a balanced triangular compositional scheme, and he embeds his figures in the composition with great naturalness. Raphael does not always stay in the city on the Arno; commissions repeatedly take him back to Urbino and Perugia.

In 1508 Raphael moves to Rome, where Pope Julius II entrusts him with the decoration of his chambers after Raphael’s first fresco is deemed to outshine those of all the competing artists. The decoration between 1509 and 1511 of the Stanza della Segnatura is followed by that of the Stanza di Eliodoro, completed in 1514, and the Stanza dell’Incendio, finished in 1517.

Raphael’s frescoes for the Stanza della Segnatura with the Parnassus, the Disputa and the School of Athens are still considered the absolute apogee of High Renaissance art, as are the drawings he made in preparation for these masterpieces. In only a few years, Raphael’s fame spreads throughout Europe. In addition to Pope Julius II and his successor, Pope Leo X, Raphael also works in Rome for members of the papal court and secular clients. Among them is Agostino Chigi, the richest banker of his day. The artist carries out the decoration of the latter’s chapels in Santa Maria della Pace and Santa Maria del Popolo and of Chigi’s mansion on the Tiber, Villa Farnesina.

Raphael, ‘Portrait of Bindo Altoviti’, ca. 1514-1515. Oil on wood. Photo: © National Gallery of Art, WashingtonBetween 1514 and 1516 Raphael designs the famous cartoons for a series of Sistine Chapel tapestries, which are woven in the workshop of Pieter van Aelst in Brussels. In 1514, Raphael is appointed Bramante’s successor as architect of Saint Peter’s Basilica. In addition to directing the construction of Saint Peter’s and supervising Roman antiquities, Raphael is involved in numerous other projects as a painter and architect. Some of the later commissions - such as the decoration of the loggias in the Vatican Palace from 1516 to 1519 - were undertaken with the help of his workshop assistants, making Raphael’s preliminary drawings in his own hand even more important to art history.

Around 1517, Cardinal Giulio de’Medici, the later Pope Clement VII, commissions Raphael to paint an altarpiece for his episcopal church in Narbonne: it is to be Raphael’s final masterpiece in his own hand. The Transfiguration - the painting depicting Christ’s Transfiguration itself and the healing of a boy possessed by demons - is Raphael’s artistic legacy, and the studies for the Apostles in the monumental altar painting are among the most beautiful drawings of the Italian Renaissance.

Raphael dies on 6 April 1520, at the age of only thirty-seven. In accordance with his own request he is buried in an antique sarcophagus in the Pantheon in Rome. A Humanist writes an epitaph for Raphael’s tomb: „Nature feared his victory while he lived; but at his death feared she might die with him.” This epitaph sums up Raphael’s aesthetics: his belief in an ideal of absolute beauty that can be found in nature only in imperfect and incomplete form. Raphael’s art united in complete harmony the ancient ideal of beauty with incredibly natural figures. Over the centuries that followed, this ideal, which represented the apogee of the High Renaissance, became the canon of classical art.

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