TRIUMPH OF PERFECTION - RAPHAEL

Renaissance Drawings and Prints from the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest

18 December 2013 - 30 March 2014

Along with Leonardo and Michelangelo, Raphael, the youngest of the famous master triad of the High Renaissance, made an exceptionally deep impression on Italian art. Despite of his short career concentrated in Rome between 1508 and 1520, there was no artist untouched by his style. In his large workshop, many gifted young artists, such as Giulio Romano, Perino del Vaga, Polidoro da Caravaggio and Giovanni da Udine, worked under Raphael’s supervision as associates and assistants, participating in the execution of his numerous significant commissions. After Raphael’s premature death, members of his workshop completed their master’s suddenly interrupted projects and started their own flourishing careers.

The Collection of Drawings and Prints in Budapest preserves six drawings by Raphael: an early study for his first Perugian altarpiece, the Coronation of the Virgin, a study for Saint Jerome from his stay in Florence, the compositional sketch for the Disputa in the Vatican Palace, a powerful Angel Head for the Sala di Costantino a unique preliminary drawing for the renowned Massacre of the Innocents engraved by Marcantonio Raimondi, and the silverpoint Venus, a superb masterpiece of the High Renaissance.

Our collection is also remarkable for the drawings by Raphael’s pupils, including ten authentic works by his most successful former assistant Giulio Romano, fifteen by Perino del Vaga and three by Polidoro da Caravaggio. We also own a beautiful series of five drawings by Tommaso Vincidor representing Giochi di Putti (Playing Putti) for the Medici Tapestries. A remarkable study from the circle of Raphael was drawn immediately after the excavation of the Laocoön group and represents the statue in its original state before the addition of supplements.

Beside the Antique, young artists in Rome diligently copied Raphael’s works, and their studies quickly transmitted the master’s vocabulary throughout Italy. Parmigianino was an eminent artist of the new generation and one of the most original inventors of Italian Mannerism, many of whose Roman studies clearly reflect Raphael’s compositions. Raphael was a major source also for Giovanni Battista Franco, who played an important role in the dissemination of Central Italian art in mid-sixteenth-century Venice.

Raphael was the first sixteenth-century painter who recognised the advantages of reproducing his compositions in print. From the early 1510s printmakers working closely with his workshop, above all the most eminent engraver of the period Marcantonio Raimondi, were conducting a very successful undertaking. The appointment of Baviero de’ Carocci, Raphael’s former assistant to supervise the publication of prints after the painter’s designs marks the birth of the highly organized print publishing business in Rome. Along with Marcantonio Raimondi’s engravings, works by the most excellent printmakers, such as Jacopo Caraglio, Agostino Veneziano and Marco Dente, as well as by the outstanding chiaroscuro woodcutter Ugo da Carpi well illustrate Raphael’s dominant role in contemporary Italian printmaking.

The sixty masterpieces in the exhibition demonstrate Raphael’s genius as well as the next generation’s relation to his unparalleled artistic legacy. It is the first occasion that the Esterházy Madonna is exhibited in the context of drawings. Its underdrawing visible even to the naked eye, supported by a recent technical analysis, offers an extraordinary occasion to understand Raphael’s working method. The exhibition provided occasion for the technical examination of Raphael’s drawings, the results of which are first published in the volume accompanying the show. (Each high-resolution photo is available at www. raphael.printsanddrawings.hu)

Curators of the exhibition: Zoltán Kárpáti and Eszter Seres
Website of the Exhibition
List of the exhibited works
About the book
Firts chapter in pdf
Presentation of the Esterhazy Madonna's Restoration