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RAPHAEL - A universal genius of the High Renaissance

Category: Exhibition 10. October 2017

„Raphael was a very economical draughtsman who was able to convey great emotions with just a few outlines“ says Achim Gnann, art historian and expert for Italian art between the 15th and 19th century who curated the new exhibition in the Albertina, working on the preparations for five years. The show includes 130 drawings and 18 paintings, among them loans from the Louvre, the Vatican museum, the Uffizi in Florence and the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford.

The retrospective includes the most important creative periods of the prematurely deceased master (1483-1520), mainly focusing on his creative process, from the first draft to the finished painting. Among them there is the Madonna dell' Impannata from the Palazzo Pitti, restored with the support of the Albertina. The portrait of the client who commissioned the painting, the Roman banker Bindo Altoviti, is reproduced on the billboard and catalogue of this exhibition.

Born in the small town Urbino, Raffaello Sanzio became an apprentice with Pietro Vannucci, known as Perugino, at the early age of 11. Later in Florence, he was commissioned with portraits and pictures of the Virgin Mary by wealthy patrons. One of the most famous of these Madonna paintings is the Sistine Madonna, today in the collection of the Dresden picture gallery.

Raphael who had a very successful career, worked in Umbria, Florence and finally in Rome, with orders by princes, businessmen and popes. He decorated the Stanze, the private rooms of pope Julius II in the Vatican palace, later he was in charge of the enlargement works at St. Peter and architect of the papal palace.

Since its foundation in 1776, the Albertina possesses about 50 works by Raphael, in this exhibition the focus is on his drawings, his drafts and his meticulous detailed studies. Rather than artworks in their own right, he considered them as auxiliary for the paintings and also as practical instructions for his numerous assistants.

The development of Raphael’s career and his working procedure as well as the creation of his subjects are presented in a wider context in this chronologically arranged exhibition.

Several mural paintings are on display as reproductions or projections next to the corresponding drawings. A self portrait is on loan from the Uffizi, and from the Louvre in Paris Saint George and the Dragon (1505), and the Madonna with the Blue Diadem (1511).

Often there are detailed studies on display, like hand studies or meticulous face- body and composition sketches. They were essential for Raphael’s creative process. The exhibition provides a glimpse of this step by step- procedure.

In the case of the Massacre of the Innocents, some changes on the composition sketches are visible, this topic seems to have been developed from a study for The Judgment of Solomon.

The exhibition concludes with his last painting, Transfiguration, made between 1516 and 1520. Sketches of heads and hands for the apostles give an idea of the development of the picture composition, providing an insight into the creative process of one of the most influential artists of European history. (written by Cem Angeli)

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