Raffaello in Rome

After four months without traveling due to the covid19 that affected the whole world, I had my first international flight last week. Following all the recommended health safety guidelines I arrived in Rome where an exhibition “Raffaello 1520-1483” got luckily extended for an additional two months until the end of August 2020. Originally inaugurated on the 5th of March and closed due to the misfortune of the lockdown after only five days, this extraordinary exhibition and the biggest ever devoted to Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, also known as simply Raphael is now reopened.

This genius of the High Renaissance lived a short but beautiful life while creating some of the most admired artworks in the art history of the world. The Exhibition at Scuderie del Quirinale in collaboration with Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence brings us over 200 masterpieces related to the artist.

Portrait of Pope Leo X with Cardinals Giulio de´Medici and Luigi de´Rossi, 1518 (oil on wood panel)
Amazing detail of the same portrait of Pope Leo X

100 of the artworks that are spread through the two floors of the museum are originals by Raphael. They are accompanied by comparative or dedicated to Raphael art by other artists. The curators Marzia Faietti & Matteo Lafranconi did an amazing work achieving to display 27 never before seen together paintings. For that, they secured loans from the world-known museums like the Louvre, El Prado, Uffizi, Galleria Borghese, and even the Vatican between others.

Ezekiel´s Vision: the painting and teapestry for the canopy of the bed after it, 1516-1517

Raphael who was born in Urbino spend his last years and died on his 37th birthday in Rome. The exhibition curators chose to start the visit with the end of his life in Rome going backward in time until his young genius days in Florence where he also worked and studied with the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo for some time.

Self-portrait, 1506-1508 (oil on poplar wood panel)
Portrait of a Young Man with an apple (Francesco Maria della Rovere?) 1504 (oil on poplar wood panel)

The exhibition welcomes visitors with “Honors Rendered to Raphael on his Deathbed” by Pierre Nolasque Bergeret and “Funeral of Raphael” by Pietro Vanni. These two tributes to Raphael are followed by a magnificent real size reproduction of the artist´s tomb at the Pantheon – a place where  Raphael was buried by his own will.
Next is the beautiful period in Rome where Raphael, as a true Renaissance man, worked on multiple projects including major architecture projects in the Vatican.

Portrait of La Velata (1512-1513) and an antique sculpture as an example of art that inspired Raphael

I had an opportunity to admire numerous incredibly delicate drawings while walking through the following halls. There were also rooms dedicated to Raphael´s architecture practice filled with sketches, models, and documents of the time.

One has to admit that an exhibition like this one is a lot to take in during one visit but it is certainly magical to view the original paintings usually seen as reproductions or illustrations of books about the works of Great Masters.

Portrait of a Woman as Venus (Fornarina) 1519-1520 (oil on wood panel)
Portrait of a Young Woman by Raphael together with Giulio Romano, 1518-1520 (oil on wood panel)

The new post-lockdown rules at the Scuderie del Quirinale gave an opportunity to enjoy the exhibition with fewer visitors at the same time. The downside of it was the bell that indicated the ends of five minute long slots for each room… However, I enjoyed the possibility to visit the “Raffaello 1520-1483” exhibition which at some time in May seemed to be an impossible dream.

One of the halls at "Raffaello 1520-1483" exhibition, Scuderie del Quirinale (Rome)

If you are planning to visit this major exhibition, I advise you to spend as much time observing the artworks as it is possible. Do not use those five minutes for reading the titles as you can find all the descriptions later. Bookshop with the exhibition catalog is open on your way out and if you do not want the book – there is plenty of information online too. Enjoy the paintings, go through the drawings and sketches, and feel the beauty of the High Renaissance in Italy.

Madonna with Child and Infant Saint John the Baptist (Alba Madonna) 1510 (oil on panel transfered to canvas)
Portrait of Tommaso Inghirami called Fedra who was an actor, 1510-1512 (oil on wood panel)

“Raffaello 1520-1483” at Scuderie del Quirinale is extended until the 30th of August. It is only possible to visit it with tickets previously acquired online. The opening hours are also special for this occasion with the door opening at 8am and closing at 11pm during the week. On Fridays and Saturdays the exhibition closes at 1am!!! 

Exhibition view with a Portrait of Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena, 1516-1517 (oil on canvas)
Detail of the letter to Leo X written in 1519 by Raphael and baldassare Castiglione
Portrait of Julius II, 1512 (oil on wood panel)
Madonna del Granduca, 1506-1507(oil on poplar wood)

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