Raffael Sanzio (France Sri Lanka Cultural Exchanges - Suriyakantha)

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Fascination of the body

Paul Cézanne

In the Light of Gauguin


Jean de La Fontaine

Malraux / Segalen


Pigeon houses in Quercy





Death Penalty

Mental Health



Miniatures of Kangra, India


raphaël, grâce et beauté


Musée du Luxembourg, 19, rue de Vaugirard, 75005 Paris.
October 10, 2001 - January 27, 2002.

«He succeeded in what the others were dreaming of.»

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1822)

«No other painter surpassed Raphael in the beauty of visages.»

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798)

«When he closed his eyes, Painting became blind.»

Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)

A series of paintings and drawings are put together to celebrate the work of one of the greatest artists in the Italian Renaissance : Raphaël.

St Sebastian, 1501-02,
oil on panel, 43x34 cm, Accademia Carrara,

    The opportunity is hence given to illustrate, through the portraits, the stylistic evolution of the work of Raphael, in which not only the formal, but also the symbolic and expressive pictorial possibilities are constantly explored in the ideal of an aesthetic and spiritual perfection. The work of Raphael realises one of the most extraordinary parable of the Western art.

    This unique collection of twelve paintings and eight drawings of Raphael shows how the painter breathed the grace and the humanism of the Renaissance into his portraits.

    The exhibition first presents his "St. Sebastian", which is still marked by the influence of Il Perugino (1450-1523), his master, and which highlights the oval perfection of the Raphael's faces. That perfection is found again in his first female portraits such as the "Lady with the Unicorn".

Lady with the Unicorn,
1506-06, oil on panel, 65x61 cm,
Gallery Borghese, Roma.

In this portrait, Raphael gets the effect called " natura in posa ", a calculated installation of the figure in space, which ignored any possibility of movement of the body and the soul. Raphael aims for the physical evidence of his models by weakening their psychological references.

"Madonna with Child between St. Gerome and St. Francisco" is also one of the works of young Raphael who settled in Roma at the end of 1508.

Portrait of Balthazar Castiglione, 1514-15, canvas, 82x67 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Looking at the portrait of Balthazar Castiglione, we are striken by the subtle harmony of gray which dominates the composition and which is coming as one of the most expressive "toned downs" in the history of art.

In this exhibition, are three of his greatest female portraits : the above mentioned "The Lady with the Unicorn", the "Portrait of a Young Woman", called "La Velata" and the recently restorated "La Fornarina".

These two last portraits are presented together for the first time and it is interesting since the art historian agree with the fact that "La Velata" and "La Fornarina" are the same woman, model and love of the artist, painted in an interval of three years.

Portrait of a Woman - La Velata, 1516, oil on panel transposed on canvas, 85x64 cm, Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Firenze.

With this masterpiece (La Velata), Raphael achieves the acme of the "portrait of woman" of all the times. The artist realise a very rich, flowing and dynamic pictorial development and also an eloquent gestural expression and a subjective composition - that gives the model an intense spirit along with a burning vitality.

La Fornarina, this beautyful young woman, who was treated by many of his successors, never reached the emotion that she was given by the genius student of Il Perugino.

Portrait of the Young Woman -
La Fornarina, 1518-19,
oil on panel,
85x60 cm, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Roma.

In her look, very often painted by Ingres, a silent distress fails on all over the painting. This silent disarray is metamorphosed into a wide surface of light. Delight and sadness here belong to the same caress of the daily life.

In his biography "The Life of the Artist", Giorgio Vasari describes Raphael as "artista aggraziato", an artist touched by the grace. This exhibition reveals the universal and almost divine nature of his work.

This ideal of grace also radiates in his drawing such as "Head of the Muse" or his splendid "Moses and the Burning Bush".

Moses and the Burning Bush, circa 1514,
National Museum of Capodimonte, Naples.

When he was struck down by death, the world suddenly stoped breathing.

«This is Raphael's tomb, while he lived he made Mother Nature
fear to be vanquished by him and, as he died to die too.»

Cardinal Bembo

Raffaello Sanzio (1483 - 1520)

Raphael was born Raffaello Sanzio or Raffaello Santi in Urbino on April 6, 1483, and received his early training in art from his father, the painter Giovanni Santi. According to many art historians, he also studied with Timoteo Viti at Urbino, executing under his influence a number of works of miniature-like delicacy and poetic atmosphere, including Apollo and Marsyas (Louvre, Paris) and The Knight's Dream (1501?, National Gallery, London).

Raphael and La Fornarina (detail),
Jean-Dominique Ingres, circa 1827, 32x27 cm, private collection, New-York.

    In 1499 he went to Perugia, in Umbria, and became a student and assistant of the painter Perugino. Raphael imitated his master closely; their paintings of this period are executed in styles so similar that art historians have found it difficult to determine which were painted by Raphael. Among Raphael's independent works executed at Perugia are two large-scale paintings, the celebrated Sposalizio, or Marriage of the Virgin (1504, Brera Gallery, Milan), and The Crucified Christ with the Virgin Mary, Saints and Angels (1503?, National Gallery, London).

Florentine Period

In 1504, Raphael moved to Florence, where he studied the work of such established painters of the time as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Fra Bartolommeo, learning their methods of representing the play of light and shade, anatomy, and dramatic action. At this time he made a transition from the typical style of the Umbrian School, with its emphasis on perspective and rigidly geometrical composition, to a more animated, informal manner of painting.

Raphael's development during his Florentine period can best be traced in his numerous Madonnas. The earliest example, still Umbrian in inspiration, is the Madonna del Granduca (1504-1505, Pitti Palace, Florence). Later examples, showing the influence of Leonardo in serenity of expression and composition, include the well-known La Belle Jardinière (1507-1508, Louvre) and the Madonna of the Goldfinch (1505, Uffizi Gallery, Florence). The last of his Madonnas executed at Florence, the Madonna del Baldacchino (1508, Pitti Palace), a monumental altarpiece, is similar in style to the work of Fra Bartolommeo. Raphael's most important commissions during his stay in Florence came from Umbria. His most original composition of this period is the Entombment of Christ (1507, Borghese Gallery, Rome), an altarpiece that nevertheless shows the strong influence of Michelangelo in the postures and anatomical development of the figures.

Roman Period

In 1508, Raphael was called to Rome by Pope Julius II and commissioned to execute frescoes in four small stanze, or rooms, of the Vatican Palace. The walls of the first room, the Stanza della Segnatura (1509-1511), are decorated with scenes elaborating ideas suggested by personifications of Theology, Philosophy, Poetry, and Justice, which appear on the ceiling. On the wall under Theology is the Disputà, representing a group discussing the mystery of the Trinity. The famous School of Athens, on the wall beneath Philosophy, portrays an open architectural space in which Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers are engaged in discourse. On the wall under Poetry is the celebrated Parnassus, in which the Greek god Apollo appears surrounded by the Muses and the great poets.

Raphaël au Vatican (détail),
Horace Vernet, 1832,
huile sur toile, 392x300 cm,
Musée du Louvre, Paris.

The second Vatican chamber, the Stanza d'Eliodoro (1512-1514), painted with the aid of Raphael's assistants, contains scenes representing the triumph of the Roman Catholic Church over its enemies.

After the death of Pope Julius II in 1513, and the accession of Leo X, Raphael's influence and responsibilities increased. He was made chief architect of Saint Peter's Basilica in 1514, and a year later was appointed director of all the excavations of antiquities in and near Rome. Because of his many activities, only part of the third room of the Vatican Palace, the Stanza del Incendio (1514-1517), was painted by him, and he merely provided the designs for the fourth chamber, the Sala Constantina. During this period he also designed ten tapestries illustrating the acts of Christ's apostles for the Sistine Chapel; the cartoons, or drawings, for these are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Raphael also devised the architecture and decorations of the Chigi Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo and the decorations of the Villa Farnesina, which include the Triumph of Galatea (1513?).

In addition to these major undertakings, he executed a number of easel paintings, including a Portrait of Julius II (1511-1512), a series of Madonnas, and the world-famous Sistine Madonna (1514?, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden). Other religious paintings during this period include The Transfiguration (1518-1520, Vatican), completed posthumously by the most notable of Raphael's many followers, Giulio Romano.

Raphael died in Rome on his 37th birthday, April 6, 1520.

Reference : "Raphael (painter)," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation.

Homage to Raphael after his death (detail),
Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret, 1806,
huile sur toile, 108x197 cm,
Oberlin Allen Memorial Art Museum.

Visit our Gallery "Raphael".