Raphael - Volume 2
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Raphael (1483-1520), the Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance, was a genius in and ahead of his time. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he formed the classical trinity of this era and elaborated a rich style of harmony and geometry. As one of the great masters of the Renaissance and artist to European royalty and the Papal court in Rome, his works comprise various themes of theology and philosophy, including but not limited to famous illustrations of the Madonna. His surroundings and experience gave rise to his propensity to combine the ideals of humanism with those of religion, and firmly established in him a conviction that art is a necessary medium to reveal the beauty of nature.



Publié par
Date de parution 04 juillet 2023
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781785257124
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 5 Mo

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Eugène Müntz

volume 2

Liberation of St Peter (detail), 1512-1514. Fresco, width: 660 cm (base). Stanza di Eliodoro, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican City.
Author: Eugène Müntz
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ISBN: 978-1-78525-712-4
Rome Stanze di Raffaello
Rome Madonnas and Portraits
Rome Vatican Decorations
Rome Final Years
Drawings Notebook
List of Illustrations
St John the Evangelist (detail from St Cecilia ), 1513. Oil on wood, transferred onto canvas, 236 x 149 cm. Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, Bologna.

In 1500 Raphael entered Perugino’s studio, and just three or four years later his reputation was firmly established throughout Umbria. It was from here that in October of 1504 Raphael arrived in Florence, with the firm intention of tempting fortune in the art-capital of Italy. It is certain that but for the instruction he received there, he would not have become the unrivalled master of design who was worthy to work for Julius II and Leo X, and who founded the Roman school. In 1508, Raphael settled in the Eternal City. If the neighbourhood of Florence offered a more perfect image of grace, if the site of Umbria tended to meditation, here, in the Campagna broken by bold mountain spurs and bounded by the dark masses of Monte Gennaro, Monte Cavo and Soracte, the only impressions were severity and nobility. And yet, imposing as was the work of nature, that of man rivalled it: the immense line of aqueducts and the splendid row of tombs along the Appian Way stood out in the landscape which was so fit a dwelling for a sovereign people.
There was something very exclusive and absorbing about Umbrian art, for excursions into the secular world and above all into the ancient classics, were forbidden ground for its adepts not more through religious scruples than through want of knowledge. In Perugia he received his first lessons and became familiar with the methods of the Umbrian School. However, Perugia was not the only town in Umbria which assisted at the début of Raphael, for he received very cordial hospitality from Città di Castello.
Umbria had become a second country for Raphael, the first being his native Urbino. While he underwent the influence due to the beauty of its sites and the mystic tendencies of its inhabitants, the Umbrians themselves became much attached to him, and it was owing to their spirit of generous piety that he was able to execute some of his most admired pictures. These encouragements were necessary to preserve him from the sufferings which, after the departure of his master, Perugino, he would have undergone, and Raphael showed his gratitude by remaining amid the Umbrian mountains until he went to reside at Rome in 1508.
If he still adhered to the types peculiar to the Umbrian school, especially in the Madonnas, it was because Umbria itself supplied him with a number of these soft and pensive countenances in which the depth of religious contentment stood instead of beauty. For a spiritualist like him, the painting of the soul was a nobler task than the painting of the body. There is already a good deal of landscape in these pictures, and in the background of the Conestabile Madonna (vol. 1, p. 35) , the chain of mountains was painted from nature in the neighbourhood of Perugia. Raphael had, perhaps, been to visit Lake Trasimene, for in the perspective may be seen a broad expanse of water upon which fishermen are rowing a boat. In his first landscape efforts, Raphael, like Perugino, endeavours to substitute simplicity of outline and breadth of design for the minuteness and the aridity of the Umbrian painters.

Trinity Banner: The Holy Trinity with St Sebastian and St Roch, c. 1499. Oil on canvas, 166 x 94 cm. Pinacoteca Comunale, Città di Castello
This banner is still in existence, but in a state of ruin. It has been removed from the Church of the Trinity, for which it was painted, to the town gallery of Citta di Castello. Raphael did not deem it beneath his dignity to accept this order, knowing that the most illustrious painters were glad to paint those banners which held the place of honour in the processions, and which were generally as well-paid as oil paintings. The Umbrian school had, so to speak, the monopoly of them, and Perugino had set his pupil the example by painting fourteen small standards for the Panicale Church, in which they were used for the Corpus Domini procession.
On one side of the banner Raphael has represented God the Father seated on a cloud of glory and holding a crucifix in both hands, while above Him hovers the Holy Ghost. At the bottom are to be seen St Sebastian to the left and St Roch to the right, both on their knees, and with their eyes lifted towards God. Upon the reverse side God is depicted advancing towards Adam, who is asleep, while above are the figures of two angels. Passavant, from whom these details are taken, adds that the paintings are on slightly prepared canvas, and that they have a blue border ornamented with gilt tracery and palms; the letter R traced upon the hem of the garment worn by God stands for the signature, and the whole work, though conceived in the style of Perugino, has more breadth and grace, especially in regard to the landscape.

Bust of an Angel, detail from the Coronation of St Nicholas of Tolentino (from the Baronci Altarpiece ), 1500-1501. Oil on wood, 31 x 27 cm. Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia
The Coronation of St Nicholas of Tolentino, executed for the church of Sant'Agostino, remained at Città di Castello until 1789, when it was sold for the sum of £200 to Pope Pius VI. The picture was on panel, and difficult to move on account of its size; as it was only injured in the upper part, the Pope had it sawn in two, so as to make a complete picture of the lower part, while the figures in the higher part formed distinct pictures. These fragments were to be seen in the Vatican until after the entry of the French army into Rome in 1798, when they were undoubtedly sold by auction together with Raphael’s tapestries and many other objects which have since disappeared.
Thanks to the descriptions of Lanzi and Pungileoni, and thanks also to two drawings preserved respectively at Oxford and Lille, it is possible to furnish a tolerably clear description of the picture. According to Lanzi, Raphael represented St Nicholas as being crowned by the Virgin and St Augustine, who are half-hidden in a cloud. Beneath St Augustine’s feet is the prostrate figure of the demon, and to the right and left are two angels holding inscriptions in honour of the saint. In the upper division is the majestic figure of the Almighty surrounded by a glory of angels. A sort of temple with pilasters charged with ornaments after the manner of Mantegna, forms a framework for the composition, and the draperies are of the period. It will be remarked in this drawing that Raphael, instead of representing the devil in his conventional hideousness, has given him the appearance of a dark figure.

Angel Holding a Phylactery, detail from the Coronation of St Nicholas of Tolentino (from the Baronci Altarpiece ), 1500-1501. Oil on wood, 58 x 36 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris
The Lille sketch differs but very slightly from Lanzi’s description. St Nicholas, placed in the centre, is holding a book in one hand and a cross in the other, and is naked. Above is the half-length figure of a young man in the close-fitting dress of the period – this was a study for the figure of the Almighty – while the two flanking figures are the Virgin and St Augustine, both half-length. The whole is enclosed between two pilasters surmounted by a full arch.
The Coronation of St Nicholas of Tolentino is not at all in keeping with the traditional view, and another painter would, as Lanzi has remarked, have grouped his figures around the throne of the Virgin, and have engaged them in one of those ‘pious conversations’ which were so much in vogue during the 15 th century. Raphael, on the contrary, concentrates all the interest of his picture upon the Saint in whose honour it was painted; his composition is, in reality, an apotheosis which celebrates both the victory of St Nicholas over the demon, who lies prostrate at his feet, and his celestial triumph. The vigour of this conception should be compared with the soft outlines and general want of character to which Perugino and his scholars were so prone. Raphael is not content with simply carrying out an old programme with unusual skill; he distances his predecessors by his invention as well as by his style.

The Crucified Christ with the Virgin Mary, Saints, and Angels, or The Mond Crucifixion, c. 1502-1503. Oil on poplar, 283.3 x 167.3 cm. National Gallery, London
The Crucified Christ, which from the Gavari Chapel in the Dominican church has found its way, after many vicissitudes, into the National Gallery in London, is among the most important of Raphael’s youthful productions. The subject, it must be admitted, was scarcely adapted to his genius, and one can understand his taking refuge in ready-made ideas. In proportion as he displays inspiration and spirit when he has to represent grace and beauty, so does he give evidence of indecision in the portrayal of passion or grief

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