One of the many fine exhibitions in London presently has to be for Raphael. Though well known as a master artist in every field he covered, he might still be lesser known, more love for his contemporaries.
Arriving in the space we are first met with a stunning small piece, a painting of Saint Sebastian. Here, he appears full faced and holding a spear, his famous symbol from the Romans trying to do him in. He simply glows and the finer details of his bright features and eloquent clothes stand out. You can see why they chose this first. I loved it so much I went all the way back to see it again prior to leaving the show.
The amount of painting of baby Jesus is on mass. Of course he is frequently seen with the Virgin Mary and his cousin, John the Baptist, recognisable for his long, cane cross and fur. It’s the posturing of each figure that helps formulate a highly stylised vision. It’s the shading that stands out and the magic that Rapheal could colour with paint. Ginormous fabric pieces based off his work tower over exhibition walls, staggering to think the amount of hours that would have gone into making these.
A huge Crucifixion impose upon the viewer, though not his most stimulating offering. Saint Catherine of Alexandria looks to the heavens for answers, in a perfectly contoured show of details and poise. Some drawings are too indistinct to truly appreciate and some scribbly letters prove his muddled writing, through a brilliant intellect.
Lorenzo de’ Medici stands proudly in the final room, his clothes showy for this huge figure in Italian history. Growing up an orphan, one wonders if these mother and child iconography had a deep impact on the Rapheal. Architecture and metal work would also show off his vast talents, reaching fever pitch in a tiny room with video work of his buildings and some frescos. Looking back a good amount of time is required to drink this show in. At least two hours I’d say.
Truly the hot ticket of the summer.
Raphael: The Credit Suisse Exhibition continues at the National Gallery till 31 July 2022.