Saturday Art: Raphael’s Transfiguration
(Picture courtesy of Artist Hideout at wikimedia commons.)
Since last week I misread the description of the world’s most famous painting and attributed that to Ruben’s ‘Transfiguration’, today I’m putting up the one actually referred to here;
For more than 300 years – from approx. 1520 to 1850 – Raphael’s “Transfiguration” [see episode “Epilepsy in the Bible (II) of this series] was deemed the “world’s most famous painting” and this assessment continued to serve subsequent artists as a template for the depiction of the transfiguration topic, as it did for the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, when he was commissioned in 1605 to decorate the Jesuit Church in Mantua with a transformation image. When working on this painting, Rubens closely adhered to the almost one hundred year older Raphaelian template, which he much admired.
As I mentioned last week, the classical painters are not my major interest, and I’m more inclined to look at more modern works, so forgive my lack of familiarity. I was interested in the figure of St. Valentine, and was sloppy, reading and interpreting this wrong.
As to the artist, Raphael was a painter and architect in the late fifteenth century. Much of his work is in the Vatican, and much of its subject matter is religious.
After his early years in Rome much of his work was executed by his workshop from his drawings, with considerable loss of quality. He was extremely influential in his lifetime, though outside Rome his work was mostly known from his collaborative printmaking. After his death, the influence of his great rival Michelangelo was more widespread until the 18th and 19th centuries, when Raphael’s more serene and harmonious qualities were again regarded as the highest models.
Raphael was one of the finest draftsmen in the history of Western art, and used drawings extensively to plan his compositions. According to a near-contemporary, when beginning to plan a composition, he would lay out a large number of stock drawings of his on the floor, and begin to draw “rapidly”, borrowing figures from here and there.
Raphael died young, at 37, but remains one of the most respected painters of his time.
My personal preferences are not part of art history and are not any indication of your own choices, either. Hopefully if you, the reader, have a favorite that I haven’t put into a post, you will share that with us in your own diary.