‘The universal artist’  Raphael at the National Gallery

Published: 05/05/2022

20220422_101513.jpg‘The universal artist’  Raphael at the National Gallery

The beauty and the range of the all-encompassing, exquisite work of Raphael that we see in this exhibition are stunning. Go to marvel at his serene Madonnas and child, the blue of his skies and garments, his prints, drawings, designs for sculpture and architecture, his cartoons, one magnificent tapestry from Rome, the gold thread still glinting, and his portraits in the last room.

You will meet the courtier Castiglione (from the Louvre), Lorenzo de Medici in his magnificent clothes (in private hands), his handsome friend Bindo Altoviti, the banker (on loan from Washington) and a suggestive nude which lends credence to Vasari’s view that he died of a ‘surfeit of love’ (she lived in Rome).

A real highlight for me is the way the Gallery projected Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’ fresco from the Vatican’s Stanze onto a vast wall. One can pick out Aristotle and Plato, centre stage agreeing to disagree, Pythagoras busy teaching Mathematics, Euclid, a reclining Diogenes, and see it all in glorious close-up colour. A magnificent achievement for Raphael of course but also for the Gallery.

I am looking forward to our September lecture on Raphael but nothing beats seeing the work up close and personal!