Thursday, June 5, 2014


Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael)
All masterpieces by Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael) (1483/1520)
In the three large paintings from three different phases of his short life there is a recurring analogy in the compositional division in a lower human sphere and an upper divine sphere
At the center
"Transfiguration" begun in 1517, unfinished and completed by Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546) and Giovanni Francesco Penni (about 1496/1528)
Jesus is transfigured on Mount Tabor among the prophets Elijah and Moses with on the left the saints Pastor and Julius who witness the scene
It was commissioned by Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, later pope Clement VII, for the Cathedral of St. Just in Narbonne in Provence where, however, it was never sent
It was exhibited above the bed of death of Raphael in Palazzo Caprini in Via della Conciliazione, then in the Palace of the Chancellery and since 1523 in St. Pietro in Montorio
In 1797 it was taken to Paris by order of Napoleon, and it was given back in 1816 when it was finally placed in the Vatican Picture Gallery
"Raphael tied two episodes that exalt each other: above a sky of dazzling brightness, partially shielded from the figures, below a dark valley, before which the characters stand out plastically detected by a raking light. The two scenes are both separate and combined with a simultaneity that marks the process of approaching the framework by the beholder, as at first from a distance the upper scene appears with its stately symmetry. At close range the lower scene takes strenght and grips the attention, inspired by different principles of composition. The double structure is necessary to affirm the dialectical relationship between Heaven and Earth, Spirit and Matter, cause and effect" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
"The transfer of the achievements of the great historical frescos in the altarpieces for high altar at its most monumental, more solemn, is the sensational result of the Transfiguration. (...) The surface is split into an upper half dominated by the purest symmetrical balance, and a lower part, treated more freely. But the contrasts are now pushed to the extreme. Raging jarring of diagonals, lines rudely interrupted, sudden light and heavy shadows that characterize the purely earthly action of the lower part. In the upper part all this fades so neatly and clearly in the overflowing serenity of the transfigured Christ" (Hermann Voss)
Three panels from the predella of the Oddi Altarpiece: "Annunciation", "Epiphany" and "Presentation of Jesus in the temple" about 1503
"Madonna of Foligno" 1512/13 for Sigismondo de' Conti writer of letters for Julius II in thanksgiving to the Virgin for having saved his house in Foligno which had been struck by lightning
In the background we see a strange shooting ball of fire that gave rise to fanciful interpretations
Originally on the high altar of S. Maria in Aracoeli, it was transported to Foligno in 1565 and then in Paris in 1797 on behalf of Napoleon. When it returned in 1816 it became part of the Vatican Collection
"It was the first significant example of a painting for an altar of a chapel. Contrary to the habits of the fifteenth century it is big in size, conceived and framed as a tabernacle, forced to the simplicity and grandeur by the remote location and the essentially architectural function of the altar itself" (Hermann Voss)
Three panels with Theological Virtues from the predella of the Baglioni Altarpiece now in the Borghese Gallery: "Hope", "Charity" and "Faith" 1507
"Ten Tapestries of the Old School" with stories of Sts. Peter and Paul 1515/19 woven in Brussels by the workshop of Pieter van Aelst:
Death of Ananias, The Sacrifice of Lystra, Conversion of St. Paul, Stoning of St. Stephen, St. Paul in prison (known as the "Earthquake"), The Delivery of the Keys, The Miraculous Fishing, St. Peter heals the lame, Frieze of the Hours and Frieze of the Seasons
"Compared to the Raphael Rooms, the main figures stand out more clearly than the secondary figures, just like the chorus of an ancient tragedy - the comparison is particularly apt for the Delivery of the Keys and the Death of Ananias - and also the movements themselves are more expressive and better coordinated with each other. Just by looking at the main features of the figures, the eye reads the pace of the event, which in a continuous flow, keeping the attention of the viewer fixed, flows between all these stories" (Hermann Voss)
These tapestries used to be hanged in the Sistine Chapel from 1519 on feast days, alternating with the Tapestry of the New School now in the Gallery of Tapestries. The tapestry cartoons are in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London
In addition, two "Friezes with grotesque" about 1530 with the arms of Clement VII and of the Duke of Montmorency
"The eloquence of gestures and expressions of the characters, the great compositional structures and the spectacular scanning of the actions seem to identify the essential features of various spiritual situations, fixing them with high rhetorical style in 'exempla' of universal value. They shape for the West the faces of Christ and the Apostles, as well as Michelangelo's frescoes had been given a visual image to the first episodes of the Bible" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
"Compared to the Raphael Rooms, the characteristics of the tapestries that immediately catch the eyes consist in the limited number of figures, in the smaller presence or even disappearance of architecture, in the simplicity and understandability of the representation. (...) They are completely focused on the historical subject and free of extraneous components. Despite of the great simplicity with which they are made - and that after the richness of the Rooms has the effect of a conscious choice - the drama of the event elicits a far stronger impression" (Hermann Voss )
"Tapestry with Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci" early 1500 maybe executed when Leonardo was still alive. It was donated in 1532 by King Francis I of France to Clement VII Medici (1523/34)
Leonardo da Vinci, Giovanni Bellini and Schools of Painting between fifteenth and sixteenth century
"St. Jerome" about 1482 by Leonardo da Vinci (1452/1519), study for a painting
It is the only work of Leonardo da Vinci in Rome not executed, however, during his stay of seventeen months in Rome in the Palazzo Belvedere in the Vatican
It was cut in two and an unconfirmed story wants that the pieces have been found separately in early 1800, one in an antique shop, and the other (the square with the head) in a shoemaker's shop. It is mentioned for the first time in the 1803 will of the painter Angelica Kauffmann. It became part of the Vatican Picture Gallery in 1856
"The features of the saint remind of other Girolamos (and Bernardinos) of the fifteenth century Tuscan art, and also the iconography of the ancient so-called dying Seneca, known in several copies. (...) Some see in the painful darkness of St. Jerome an incipient sign of those religious tremors which, a decade later, will result in the misfortune of Savonarola. But another interpretation is more likely. The shadows that seem to take possession of his paintings are the same shadows that creep into his life. Leonardo had been for a few years an autonomous painter, with its own shop, but the awards were slow in coming. In the circle of Marsilio Ficino abstract subjects were argued which, in that form, were less and less of any interest for the young investigator" (Massimiliano Capati)
Oil on board "Lamentation over the Dead Christ" with the Sts. Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus and Mary Magdalene about 1471/74 by Giovanni Bellini (about 1432/1516) cyma of the altarpiece called "Pala Pesaro" from the church of St. Francis at Pesaro, where it is represented a coronation of the Virgin with Saints
"One of the fundamental works of the maturity of this artist born in Venice from the well-known painter Jacopo Bellini. Around Giovanni Bellini, also known by the nickname of 'Giambellino' move his brother Gentile Bellini and especially his brother-in-law Andrea Mantegna. (...) Pictorially the Pala Pesaro is one of his most monumental ones, placing him next to Antonello da Messina, and above all, to Piero della Francesca" (Maria Antonietta De Angelis)
"Way to Calvary" about 1534 by Polidoro Caldara aka Polidoro da Caravaggio (about 1495/1543) study for the altarpiece of the Church of the Annunciation of the Catalans in Messina
It is clear the influence of Raphael's "Spasm of Sicily", painting with the same subject, which was in the church of S. Maria Spasimo in Palermo at the time and now is in the Prado Museum in Madrid
Oil on panel transferred to canvas "Adoration of the Magi" second half of 1500s by Raffaellino Del Colle (about 1490/1566) with preparatory study
Polidoro da Caravaggio and Raffaellino Del Colle often worked together producing notable decorations on the façades of many palaces in Rome, so-called "graffiti", now, unfortunately, only a memory handed down by written sources
"Nativity" maybe by Domenico Bigordi aka Ghirlandaio (1449/94) and assistants
"Redeemer" and "Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane" by a painter of the circle of Antonio Allegri aka Correggio (1489/1534)
"Portrait of Francesco II Sforza when five years old" 1496 by Bernardino de' Conti (about 1470/1525) painter from the Leonardo's circle, who trained with Ambrogio de Predis
"Two broken pillars from altarpiece with Saints" by Vincenzo Pagani
"Portrait of Alexander VI" Borgia (1492/1503), maybe by the Spaniard Pedro Berruguete (about 1452/1504)
Detached fresco from a house in Bergamo "Portrait of a Man aka Bramante" by a painter of the Lombard school of the sixteenth century
Venetian Renaissance Painting and Italian Schools of High Renaissance
"Madonna and Child with Saints" by Gerolamo Del Pacchia (about 1477/1535)
"Madonna of the Milk" by Lorenzo di Credi (1459/1537)
"Coronation of the Virgin and Angels" about 1560/63 by Francesco de' Rossi aka Francesco Salviati (1510/63)
"Portrait of a Gentleman" by the Dutchman Anthonis Moor Van Dashorst aka Antonio Moro (1517/76)
"Doge Niccolò Marcello" about 1542 and "Madonna and Child with Saints" called "Madonna of St. Nicholas" of the friars on Lido Island about 1520/25 by Tiziano Vecellio (Titian) (about 1490/1576)
The portrait of the Doge was maybe painted by an assistant of his workshop. The Madonna of S. Nicholas was damaged by a fire caused by candles in the Venetian church
"The portrait of the Doge Marcello has a definitely archaic look, as if it was a fifteenth century work. This seems to stem from the fact that this posthumous portrait must have been a traditional portrait of the doge and it is clearly related to the existing iconography of Niccolò Marcello, mostly on medals" (Maria Antonietta De Angelis)
Oil on board "St. George slaying the dragon" about 1525 by Paris Bordon (1500/71), a student of Titian but influenced in this splendid work by Pordenone's works
"Vision of St. Helena" about 1580 and "Allegory of the Liberal Arts" by Paolo Caliari aka Veronese (1528/88). The Allegory was part of a ceiling with two other panels now in the Capitoline Museums
"The St. Helena, as well as the robust frame of the image, shows the typical range of Veronese's colors including always a striking, if refined, contrast between warm colors (in this case the crimson of the mantle) and cool colors (greens) enhanced by the silvery tone of the dress and veil. (...) Unlike Titian, who investigates the psychological nature of his subjects, and Tintoretto, who exalts their social quality, Veronese painted characters almost as myths, living in the golden Olympus of a refined and rich Venice. Even in the late period of his production, in which this St. Helena fits, it is impossible to see the end of this golden vision, which was already taking place in the Venetian society at the time" (Maria Antonietta De Angelis)
"Coronation of the Virgin aka Madonna of Monteluce" 1505/25 by Giulio Pippi aka Giulio Romano (1499/1546) and Giovanni Francesco Penni (about 1496/1528) from drawings by Raphael to whom it had been commissioned in 1503 by the nuns of the Monteluce monastery in Perugia
It was delivered only in 1525, five years after the death of Raphael, with the decisive intervention of his two assistants. A copy in mosaic is in the left transept of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
"The Madonna of Monteluce presents a series of mysteries. Among them, the anomalous construction of the two parts into which the altarpiece is made, especially the convex shape for the base of the lunette with the Coronation of the Virgin. The major restoration to which it was submitted in the eighties persuaded Fabrizio Mancinelli to consider the current altarpiece fruit of the union of two different paintings, the top part made in earlier times by Raphael himself with the help of Giulio Romano, the bottom part painted by Penni at the time of the final contract. This would explain the differences in both preparation and execution technique" (Maria Antonietta De Angelis)
"Madonna of the Pears": Madonna and Child with Saints Jerome and Bartholomew about 1550 by Alessandro Bonvicino aka Moretto (1498/1554)
"With Moretto, Brescia's painting style, which is due to Romanino, and the generally Lombard style due to Foppa, is enriched by contributions from Veneto, above all, by Giorgione and Titian, as can be seen even from this painting of sober monumentality, but animated by a precise search for the light (in the window on the right) and by the warm mixing of colors derived from Venice" (Maria Antonietta De Angelis)
According to a tradition, first Roman and then spread in the Middle Ages, Augustus would have had the vision of a beautiful woman with a baby in her arms, and he also heard a voice saying, This is the altar of the son of God. It was the Virgin Mary and the legend goes that for this reason Augustus decided not to take power explicitly
The Council of Trent (1545/63) would eventually completely remove the traditions including pagan myths very popular until the Renaissance. Other examples were the Sibyls painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or Raphael's Gods in the vault of the Chigi Chapel in S. Maria del Popolo
"The contemporaneity of the clothes of the courtiers and of Augustus blends with the quote of the classical building in the background and with the glimpse of wild landscape, almost cosmogonic, which occupies the right half of the painting" (Maria Antonietta De Angelis)
"Christ at the Column" and "Madonna of the belt and saints" fifteenth century by an artist of the Lombard school
"Sacred Conversation" by Bonifacio dei Pitati (about 1487/1553) and workshop
"Adoration of the Shepherds" by Camillo Filippi (about 1500/74) from Ferrara 
"His delightfully naive style is also to be found in this small painting where the figures sketched a little rigidly contrast with a technique of painting in bright contrasting colors with evocative glimpse of the countryside" (Maria Antonietta De Angelis)
"Madonna and Child with St. Jerome" by the Bolognese Jacopo Boateri
"Presentation of Jesus in the temple" maybe by Francesco Bissolo from Treviso

1 comment:

  1. Thank You,

    I made in Pinacoteca Vaticana a lot of pictures in the year 2013, but they are usually too dark, so I am glad to find and see Your pictures! And notices about some paintings are very interesting and helpful too.

    Have a nice New year 2015
    Michal Steindler. Prague