Raphael at the National Gallery
Commemorating the 500th anniversary of his death, Raphael it the National Gallery is one of the first exhibitions to explore the Renaissance artist’s complete career, featuring pieces on loan from places like the Louvre, the Vatican Museum and Washington, among others, to take a comprehensive look at the ways that the artist changed the face of Western culture over two decades.
The display, spanning eight rooms, charts Raphael’s artistic development from concept sketches to creative correspondences to finished pieces, examining the ways he experimented with form and pushed boundaries and his creative dialogues with other Renaissance greats like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Considering the artist’s tremendous impact on the Western cultural sphere, it’s fascinating to get this fresh and all-encompassing perspective on him, and the exhibition highlights the ways that Raphael’s distinctive style laid the creative foundations for generations of artists after him.
One thing in particular that the National Gallery’s collection showcases effectively is the tenderness and love he imbued his pieces with. Classic visuals like the Madonna and Child are given new life and vibrancy with the artist’s talented hand as he bestows even the simplest of scenes with an effortless sense of emotion and dynamism. There’s also something of the divine in the portraits of his friends, colleagues and patrons, which communicate a deep sense of emotional intimacy and distinct joie de vivre, even in pieces that convey melancholy.
Raphael’s work is known for its precision and clarity of form, and those characteristics serve to bring out the raw emotions at the heart of the art and the artist, resulting in work that is at once real and unreal, inhuman but deeply, passionately human.
Overall, Raphael is a fantastic tribute to a short life well lived, with the National Gallery giving his oeuvre the perfect platform to truly shine. This is a great opportunity to see so many of the great artist’s works in one place and a unique insight into the inner world of the High Renaissance.
Raphael is at the National Gallery from 9th April until 31st July 2022. For further information visit the exhibition’s website here.