Raphael revelry: National Gallery secures exceptional loans for 500th anniversary of artist’s death


Raphael's Saint Catherine of Alexandria (around 1507) © The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery is to hold one of the greatest-ever exhibitions on Raphael next year, to mark the 500th anniversary of his death. It will deal with the entire span of his career, not just paintings and draftsmanship. The show will also cover his involvement in archaeology, architecture and poetry, as well as prints, sculpture, tapestry and the applied arts.

But of course it is the paintings that will be the main attraction. Along with the gallerys own ten works, key loans are expected from the Musée du Louvre in Paris, Vatican Museums, Florences Galleria degli Uffizi, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and Madrids Museo Nacional del Prado. Among the promised paintings is the Esterházy Madonna (1508) from Budapests Museum of Fine Arts.

Raphael's The Madonna of the Pinks (around 1506-07) © The National Gallery, London

Another key loan will be the Terranuova Madonna (1504-05) from Berlins Staatliche Museum. This will be sent as part of an exchange, since Londons National Gallery is to lend its Raphael Madonna of the Pinks (1506-07) to Berlin (13 December-26 April 2020). A sketch for the painting from Berlins Kupferstichkabinett may also be coming to London, although this remains unconfirmed. Altogether the National Gallery hopes to assemble around 30 Raphael paintings, with 20 or so outside loans.

Among the important drawings will be the Study for the Head of an Apostle in the Transfiguration (1518-20), which had come to England in the 16th century and passed into the Chatsworth collection. It was sold in 2012 at Sothebys, fetching £29.7m, then a record price for a drawing. It is coming on loan from a New York private collector; it is believed that the owner is the New York financier Leon Black.

Raphael's Study for the Head of an Apostle in the Transfiguration (1518-20) is part of a private collection in New York © Private Collection

The lead curator for the exhibition is Matthias Wivel, the National Gallerys specialist in 16th-century Italian paintings. Nicholas Penny, a former gallery director and Italian Renaissance expert (and identifier of the Madonna of the Pinks), organised an exhibition on early Raphael inRead More – Source