I was supposed to have arrived in Rome today… but, I am still just outside of Washington, D.C., under a shelter-in-place order. One of the first things I was going to do in Rome was see the blockbuster Raphael exhibit at the Scuderie del Quirinale — which was only open for a few days before it closed due to COVID-19. I am not sure if the Raphael exhibit will still be there when I can get back to Rome, but there are always the many Raphaels that “live” in Rome to see.
As I wrote in my prior post, the Vatican Museums have the four magnificent “Raphael Rooms,” which were once part of the Papal apartments. The Vatican’s Pinacoteca (picture gallery) also has several wonderful works by Raphael: The Crowing of the Virgin, The Madonna of Foligno, and The Transfiguration, as well as several other smaller works.
Also described in my last post, Palazzo Barberini hosts Raphael’s lovely mistress, known as the baker’s daughter, La Fornanina.
But, there are several other places to see Raphael. A hidden gem, Doria Pamphilj Gallery, on Via del Corso, has a stunning double portrait of two Venetian noblemen.
A spectacular place to see Raphael’s work is another hidden gem, one that I high recommend to all, but particularly if you have children in tow. The Villa Farnesina, in Trastevere, is a gorgeous little palazzo decorated by Raphael, with his lovely Galatea.
Galleria Borghese, one of Rome’s greatest art museums, has three Raphaels. Two of them are The Deposition of Christ (close-up at the top of this post) and a Portrait of a Man.
The third Raphael work at the Borghese is the lovely Young Woman with Unicorn. Interestingly, the unicorn was an alteration. It was painted over St. Catherine‘s wheel, the traditional relic of that saint. Since unicorns could only be captured by a virgin, perhaps this was meant to convert the portrait of a saint into a marriage painting that suggested the purity of the young blond bride.
Two churches also hold works by Raphael. The Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pace has the Sybils; and the Basilica di San Agostino has The Prophet Isaiah on one of the columns (although this painting has to compete with Caravaggio’s magnificent Madonna di Loreto).
Until we can all get back to Rome, we will have to be satisfied with Raphael’s work online and in the virtual tour of the big Raphael show.
Tech Tip: The video linked at the very end is in Italian. For computer generated subtitles, turn on the closed captions at the bottom of the video’s window, and then set the language setting by clicking on the icon next to the CC icon.