The glories of the ‘divine Raphael’ on view in Rome

The glories of the ‘divine Raphael’ on view in Rome 'Julis II, The Burdens of Papal office.'

With the assistance of galleries around the world, the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome has mounted a magnificent, once-in-a-lifetime show, celebrating the youthful yet astonishingly mature genius of Raphael, who died in 1522 at the ridiculously early age of 37.

Masterpieces which would have taken years of travelling to see, have been brought together. The show was closed due to the present Covid-19 crisis which hit Italy very hard, but as now re-opened again.

Among the creations on show are his ‘Pope Leo with Two Cardinals’ (c. 1520), an in image of brooding power and ambition of a man whose significance was brought into focus by the anniversary of Martin Luther awhile ago. Also on view in show, brought from the National Gallery in London, is his other papal portrait ‘Pope Julius II’ (c. 1511) – his beard a sign of mourning, not for a fellow human but territory seized by his enemies, a ruler lost in his thoughts, which cannot always have been pleasant ones.

However, aside from these so many images bring delight to the visitors, covering as they so many moods and aspects of life, such as the ‘Madonna of the Rose’ (c. 1520) and ‘La Fornarina’ (1520).


The Italian President in opening the exhibition remarked that “from the renaissance spirit that made Raphael’s art unparalleled, energy can be drawn for the restart of Italy and Europe” – a hopeful message indeed at this moment in time.

For more information in Italian and English visit the gallery website.

The online activities will broaden the horizons of viewers with many other contents: video-walks inside the rooms, enriched with details and curious facts about the works, as well as forays behind the scenes, with the story of the set-up and insights on more particular and specific aspects of Raphael’s work and on the Renaissance in which he flourished.

Michael Collins’ new book, Raphael’s World (Messenger Publications, €19.95), was reviewed on these pages in our issue of May 21, 2020.