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Indepth Arts News:

"Raphael and His Circle: Drawings from Windsor Castle"
2000-10-31 until 2001-01-07
J. Paul Getty Center

The major traveling exhibition Raphael and His Circle: Drawings from Windsor Castle, on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from October 31, 2000 through January 7, 2001, provides a rare opportunity to view the inventions of one of the pivotal artists of the Renaissance. The exhibition features 66 drawings on loan from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, selected from the magnificent collection of old master drawings and watercolors in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle.

Raphael (1483-1520) possessed a creative power that is revealed most clearly in his drawings. His 25 drawings on view in the exhibition exemplify the principles of composition, types of figure drawing, and systems of workshop collaboration he developed in his short but brilliant career. These elements of Raphaels work set the standards for much of the next four centuries and made his famous large-scale commissions possible. His works on view range from a study for an altarpiece, probably commissioned when he was not yet 20, to drawings for the great projects executed at the height of his fame in Rome.

Works by earlier artists who influenced Raphael, and by his assistants who spread interpretations of his work throughout Italy, amplify the magnitude of this masters achievements. One part of the exhibition focuses on Raphaels teachers (Pietro Perugino and Raphaels father, Giovanni Santi), another on his own work, and a third on the work of his assistants (Giulio Romano, Perino del Vaga, and Polidoro da Carravaggio).

Unique to the presentation of Raphael and His Circle at the Getty is a special section devoted to the making of the Disputa, the monumental fresco commissioned by Pope Julius II for the Vatican Palaces papal library, now known as the Stanza della Segnatura. The stanzas vault is decorated with personifications of Theology, Philosophy, Poetry, and Jurisprudence. Painted on the wall under Theology is the Disputa, a theological discussion of the Eucharist, one of the seven sacraments and essential mysteries of the Catholic faith. The Eucharist is the central event of a Catholic mass in which bread and wine are blessed and consumed as Christs body and blood.

The exhibition features the earliest surviving study for the fresco that shows how the master grappled with the difficulties of painting such a large space. A Study for the Left Half of the Disputa reveals the arcs of Raphaels compass used to proportionally expand the composition on paper while working to fit it on the expansive wall. This special section also includes an almost life-size reproduction of the final painted fresco.

Raphael and His Circle has been organized by the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington. It is accompanied by a 224-page catalog, Raphael and His Circle, by Martin Clayton, assistant curator of the Print Room at Windsor Castle. Published by the Royal Collection, the book includes color reproductions of all the drawings in the exhibition. To order the cloth-covered edition (ISBN: 1-85894-076-1, $60) or paper edition (ISBN: 1-902163-19-2, $35), call 310-440-7059. The catalog is also available in the Getty Museum bookstore.

The Three Graces,
about 1517-18, some stylus underdrawing, red chalk.
Royal Collection
copyright 2000 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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