Yesterday I was visiting the show in the occasion of a Social Conference (Press Conference for Bloggers, Influencers, Instagrammers).
Together with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, Raphael completes the triumvirate of Italian Renaissance artists. Moreover, the world-famous drawings of this prematurely deceased master (1483–1520) make him one of art history’s great draftsmen. The Albertina Museum is now paying tribute to Raphael with a major exhibition of 150 paintings and drawings.
Starting from the Albertina Museum’s own significant holdings and rounded out by the most impressive and important drawings from famous museums such as the Uffizi, the Royal Collection of the British Royal Family, the British Museum, the Louvre, the Vatican Museums, and the Ashmolean Museum, this monographic presentation places Raphael’s thinking and conceptual process front and center: featured works range from initial spontaneous artist’s impressions to virtuosic detail studies, compositional studies, and the completed paintings themselves.
As a painter who worked in Umbria, Florence, and Rome and could count princes and popes among his patrons, Raphael was a true universal genius of the High Renaissance who constantly sought to strike a balance between naturalist imitation and idealization.
This exhibition shows around 130 drawings and 18 paintings that amount to a representative survey covering all of the artist’s important projects: from his early Umbrian period (up to 1504) to his years in Florence (1504–1508) and on to his time in Rome (1508/1509–1520), during which he dealt closely with antiquity, the impressive selection involves Raphael’s entire artistic career.
In a way that is truly universal, Raphael expresses the quintessentially human aspects of his figures: their character, their nature, their feelings, and the motivating forces behind their actions. Even if he does observe them with great accuracy, he also idealizes them and lends them universal meaning. Through their actions, his figures enter a web of relationships in which contradictions and tensions are clarified and joined together in a wonderful compositional unity.
Raphael is a master of beauty and of harmony, and his works are filled with a promising message that remains just as pertinent today as it was at the time. More than either Leonardo or Michelangelo, Raphael comes to terms with the art of his contemporaries and predecessors, adopts it, adapts it, and ultimately arrives at solutions that are entirely his own.
One of the basic pillars of his artistic practice is the observation of nature and the study of the human model, in reference to which he examined each movement and every posture of his figures. What’s more, Raphael’s examination of the ideals of antiquity lent his creations monumentality, dignity, and grandeur, for which reason he became known as one of the most important history painters in the grand classical style.
A Humanist wrote an epitaph for Raphael’s tomb: “Nature feared his victory while he lived; but at his death feared she might die with him.”
This epitaph sums up Raphael’s aesthetics: his belief in an ideal of absolute beauty that can be found in nature only in imperfect and incomplete form. Raphael’s art united in complete harmony the ancient ideal of beauty with incredibly natural figures. Over the centuries that followed, this ideal, which represented the apogee of the High Renaissance, became the canon of classical art.
“Visiting this exhibition was an enriching experience for me. I have never been able to see such grand works of Raphael, all gathered in one museum, before. Looking at the shiny and colorful paintings, especially the portraits, was fascinating and interesting. I can recommend the exhibition to anyone who values Renaissance paintings and drawings of Raphael.”
Click here for more information about the exhibition.
Adress: Albertina Museum, Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna
Opening hours: 29 September 2017 – 7 January 2018 / Daily: 10 am to 6 pm, Wednesday & Friday: 10 am to 9 pm
All photos by Judith Bradlwarter. ©
- Raphael, Self-Portrait, 1506 / Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
- Raphael, Portrait of Bindo Altoviti, ca. 1514–1515 / National Gallery of Art, Washington.
- Raphael, Portrait of Pietro Bembo, 1506 / Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.
- Raphael, Portrait of a Young Man, ca. 1518-1519 / Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.
- Raphael, Madonna dell’Impannata, 1511 / Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Uffizi, Florence.
- Raphael, Madonna dell’ Impannata, 1511 (Detail)
- Raphael, ‘La Madonna del Divino Amore’ / Museo di Capodimonte, Collezione Farnese, Napels.
- Raphael, St. John the Baptist in the Desert, 1520 / Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
- Raphael, Apostle Head (Study for ‘Transfiguration’), 1519 – 1520 / The Albertina Museum, Vienna.
- Raphael, Head of a Muse, 1510-11 / Il Museo Horne, Florence.
- Exhibition installation view /Albertina Museum, Vienna.