A wonderful fascination

The Portrait of a Young Woman
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Palazzo Barberini, Rome.

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483-1520)

Gifted genius. Not an eccentric behaviour, violence and melancholia…

Our curiosity for his life is insatiable.
Buried under an amount of legends and biographies, the result of particular views, gossips… and so on. Our perception of his life has become remote.
So much about Raphael is forgotten!

“To good to be true”
Jonathan Jones

Sat 9 Oct 2004 The Guardian

Our fascination with Raphael is a quest for utopia, a long search for classical beauty. A thirst for calm beyond the mess of everyday life.

Raphael was different.
From a very young age, he painted a dream of perfect place. A paceful to live in. For him, ancient World was a dream-like utopia that would actually be rebuilt.
For him and Bramante, classical art imposer order on chaos.

Why is so difficult to love him?, asked Jonathan Jones.

500 years ago, world was so violent as now. Looking for a vision of harmony. Beauty was the only stability, the only protection that Rapahel knew.

Catherine the Great has a an insane adoration for Raphael as we can see in the Hermitage.
At the court of Saxony, the enthusiastic welcoming of the Sistine Madona in 1754 to the court, was a happy event. In 1817, It became a fetish-image of pop-culture.

Adolf von Menzel, Platz für den groβen Raffael!!
August the third is portrayed in the act of pushing away his own throne in order to make space for Raphael´s Madonna

In France, Dominique Vivant Denon was able to collect the largest number of works by Raphael that a museum would ever possesses.

After the Treaty of Tolentino with Pope Pius VI, in wich was formalised the confiscation of many treasures from the Vatican during Napoleon Bonaparte´s Italian campaign, Raphael represented the French artistic ideals.

Wedding procession of Napoleon and Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810 (detail)
Bejamin Wix

More than 20 Raphaels were on display at the Louvre.

The enthusiasm for “the immortal Raphael” began a new way of organising the collections. And, English painters had the opportunity to study those hidden treasures. As for instance, Turner!

But the top is in Postdam, at The Orangery Palace in Postdam. Where King Frederick William IV of Prussia had his own temple dedicated to the Divino Pittore. A Temple des Ernstes und des fake. A Museum of copies in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Ludwig Ferdinand Hesse. Raffaelsaal – Schnitt, 1857
Orangerie Raffaelsaal. Postdam.

Eros and Thanatos meet together in the cult of Raphael. Dying in a paroxism of lust, Raphael´s private life was also a feature of the renewed interest in his work. The Fornarina Legend…

Buried under the dome of th Pantheon, “where a divine ray of sunlight comes from the oculus in the roof and moves around the walls, like a sundial registering the harmony of Universe. Raphael reveals for ever a need to believe there was order in the Universe”. (1)

Giovanni Paolo Pannini detail oculus
National Gallery of Art

to be continued…


(1) Jonathan Jones. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2004/oct/09/art

Alexandra Galizzi Kroegel

The sundial

In antiquity the obelisk was often used as a sundial. That way you could more or less tell time and know where you were. The Pantheon not only tells each hour of the day and the night, but also what day it is. The current altar directly opposite the entrance always remains in shadow, while from the entrance, after passing through the heavy bronze doors, you could see the sun at its zenith. Standing in the cella between winter and summer, you could tell exactly what day of the year and what hour of the day it was. In this period, the sunlight would fall precisely on the projecting edge separating the wall from the dome and the first row of coffers. More information: Giulio Magli and Robert Hannah The role of the sun in the Pantheon’s design and meaning’