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Raphael at the Metropolitan: The Colonna Altarpiece

Item# 04-052239 

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  • Publisher: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Pages: 76
  • Illustrations: 98 (50 in full color)
  • Dimensions: 8 1/2'' x 11''
  • Format: Paperback
  • Author:
  • ISBN: 9780300117905



By Linda Wolk-Simon

Raphael (Italian, 14831520) has been the indispensable reference point for countless artists, great and small, Italian and non-Italian. His frescoes in the Vatican quickly asserted themselves as paradigms of the Grand Manner, while his serenely beautiful Madonnas and calmly dignified portraits redefined their respective genres. The combination of clarity and complexity in his compositions results in an ineffable quality of innate grace that many artists have since tried to emulate. Not only Parmigianino, Carracci, Poussin, Ingres, and Degas but Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Manet also mined Raphael's works for inspiration. The Colonna Altarpiece is the only altarpiece by Raphael in an American collection. Raphael painted this work in his early twenties for a convent of nuns in Perugia on the eve of his move to Florence. The two main panels of the altarpiece were bought by former Museum president J. Pierpont Morgan, and later given as a gift to the Museum's Collection in 1916. This volume, a former Met Bulletin, accompanies an exhibition that reunites all seven parts of the altarpiece for the first time since the seventeenth century: the two main panels in the Metropolitan together with the five components of its predella, divided among the Metropolitan, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and the National Gallery and the Dulwich Picture Gallery, both in London. Also included is a fine selection of paintings and drawings by Raphael executed during the same period, 15025. Additionally, this exhibition showcases a preliminary study, now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, for the landscape in the Metropolitan's altarpiece, as well as the beautiful painting Madonna and Child with a Book from the Norton Simon Art Foundation in Pasadena. These works document one of the pivotal moments in Raphael's career, when the young artist abandoned Perugia, in Umbria, and set his sights on Florence, where he encountered the work of Fra Bartolommeo and Leonardo da Vinci. To contextualize the transformative effect of this move, paintings by his master, Perugino, as well as by Pinturicchio and Fra Bartolommeo are also exhibited.

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