The exposition forms part of the celebrations being overseen by the National Committee for the Celebration of the Fifth Centennial of the Death of Raphael, a committee appointed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism under whose patronage the exhibition takes place. Five hundred years ago, celebrated as no artist had ever been before him, Raffaello Sanzio (1483-1520) died in Rome. A maestro and lodestar whose importance was exalted by the biographer-artist Giorgio Vasari, he was accorded a stature both artistic and moral which would be universally recognised for centuries to come. In Raphael, the Accademia di San Luca – whose dual raison d’être lay in providing artistic training and, simultaneously, elevating the social position of its artists – found the ideal figure of inspiration for its own activities, and the Academy thus became a key player in the creation and promotion of the legend of the artist from Urbino. Featuring works from the Academy’s own collections and a number of very significant loans, this exhibition aims to illustrate the institution’s central contribution to Raphael’s near-mythical status. As early as the sixteenth century, the Academy had already chosen as its symbol the altarpiece representing St Luke Painting the Virgin, a painting traditionally attributed to Raphael, who is portrayed (or portrays himself) standing next to the patron saint of painters – the suggestion clearly being that this is the figure to whom aspiring young artists should look for inspiration. One of the clearest examples of the importance attributed to the painting is the celebrated copy – recently restored by the Accademia di San Luca – made by Antiveduto Gramatica in 1623 and currently conserved in the church of Santi Luca e Martina, with its ornate frame which was donated by Carlo Maratti in 1700. The exhibition offers the public an opportunity to see the two paintings side-by-side for the first time in centuries, along with a selection of more recent drawings and prints inspired by them. Stars of the exhibition include the Putto with Garland which first made its appearance in the Academy’s gallery in 1834, to the joy of artists and connoisseurs for whom it represented the only fresco by Raphael that could be studied at close quarters, giving rise to what would become a veritable mania for making copies of the subject. The most famous and best documented of these is the copy made in 1858 by the young French painter Gustave Moreau, which here, on loan from the Musée Gustave Moreau in Paris, is at long last reunited with the original. The exhibition has provided the occasion for new and important investigations regarding the Academy’s Putto, and the additional scholarly evidence emerging from these will undoubtedly nourish the debate surrounding the painting – which some believe to be the first version of the putto represented alongside the Prophet Isaiah in the Roman church of Sant’Agostino, a fresco whose authorship has long been a subject of dispute. Surpassing all others as a model for young artists-in-training, over the centuries Raphael’s work was the subject of countless copies, made as exercises in painting and sculpture within the Academy’s various disciplinary ambits, as is illustrated by the competition entries and teaching material featured in the exhibition. The exhibition concludes with a gallery of works by some of the Academy’s great masters, exemplifying the many ways in which the example offered by the greatest of painters was studied, assimilated and re-elaborated, powerfully influencing the history of art in Rome for many generations, up to and including the twentieth century, as is attested by the remarkable self-portrait by Achille Funi with which the exhibition ends. Defender of Raphael’s legendary status, champion of the beau idéal, and always a leading participant in celebrations dedicated to his anniversaries and centenaries, with this exhibition the Accademia di San Luca renews its historical undertaking to honour the memory of Raphael and everything he has represented for the academies and artists of Rome.

Raffaello. L'Accademia di San Luca e il mito dell'Urbinate

Stefania Ventra
2020

Abstract

The exposition forms part of the celebrations being overseen by the National Committee for the Celebration of the Fifth Centennial of the Death of Raphael, a committee appointed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism under whose patronage the exhibition takes place. Five hundred years ago, celebrated as no artist had ever been before him, Raffaello Sanzio (1483-1520) died in Rome. A maestro and lodestar whose importance was exalted by the biographer-artist Giorgio Vasari, he was accorded a stature both artistic and moral which would be universally recognised for centuries to come. In Raphael, the Accademia di San Luca – whose dual raison d’être lay in providing artistic training and, simultaneously, elevating the social position of its artists – found the ideal figure of inspiration for its own activities, and the Academy thus became a key player in the creation and promotion of the legend of the artist from Urbino. Featuring works from the Academy’s own collections and a number of very significant loans, this exhibition aims to illustrate the institution’s central contribution to Raphael’s near-mythical status. As early as the sixteenth century, the Academy had already chosen as its symbol the altarpiece representing St Luke Painting the Virgin, a painting traditionally attributed to Raphael, who is portrayed (or portrays himself) standing next to the patron saint of painters – the suggestion clearly being that this is the figure to whom aspiring young artists should look for inspiration. One of the clearest examples of the importance attributed to the painting is the celebrated copy – recently restored by the Accademia di San Luca – made by Antiveduto Gramatica in 1623 and currently conserved in the church of Santi Luca e Martina, with its ornate frame which was donated by Carlo Maratti in 1700. The exhibition offers the public an opportunity to see the two paintings side-by-side for the first time in centuries, along with a selection of more recent drawings and prints inspired by them. Stars of the exhibition include the Putto with Garland which first made its appearance in the Academy’s gallery in 1834, to the joy of artists and connoisseurs for whom it represented the only fresco by Raphael that could be studied at close quarters, giving rise to what would become a veritable mania for making copies of the subject. The most famous and best documented of these is the copy made in 1858 by the young French painter Gustave Moreau, which here, on loan from the Musée Gustave Moreau in Paris, is at long last reunited with the original. The exhibition has provided the occasion for new and important investigations regarding the Academy’s Putto, and the additional scholarly evidence emerging from these will undoubtedly nourish the debate surrounding the painting – which some believe to be the first version of the putto represented alongside the Prophet Isaiah in the Roman church of Sant’Agostino, a fresco whose authorship has long been a subject of dispute. Surpassing all others as a model for young artists-in-training, over the centuries Raphael’s work was the subject of countless copies, made as exercises in painting and sculpture within the Academy’s various disciplinary ambits, as is illustrated by the competition entries and teaching material featured in the exhibition. The exhibition concludes with a gallery of works by some of the Academy’s great masters, exemplifying the many ways in which the example offered by the greatest of painters was studied, assimilated and re-elaborated, powerfully influencing the history of art in Rome for many generations, up to and including the twentieth century, as is attested by the remarkable self-portrait by Achille Funi with which the exhibition ends. Defender of Raphael’s legendary status, champion of the beau idéal, and always a leading participant in celebrations dedicated to his anniversaries and centenaries, with this exhibition the Accademia di San Luca renews its historical undertaking to honour the memory of Raphael and everything he has represented for the academies and artists of Rome.
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