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Rome After Raphael
January 22 through May 9, 2010

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Polidoro da Caravaggio (Caravaggio ca. 1495–ca. 1543 Messina)
Condemnation of Perillus
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white gouache, over black chalk, on light brown paper
6 1/2 x 9 1/8 inches (165 x 232 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; I, 20

By 1524 Polidoro was one of Rome's most prolific facade decorators, frescoing the outside walls of palaces with vigorously inventive monochrome friezes, figures in niches, and architectural elements saturated with references to the antique.

The present study relates to a facade on the via dei Coronari, Rome, that once depicted the story of the inventor Perillus. According to Ovid, he devised for his master, Phalaris, tyrant of Sicily, an instrument of torture consisting of a hollow, life-size bronze bull. The metal was to be heated, causing the person within to bellow like an animal in distress. In a surprising and especially cruel turn of events, however, Phalaris commanded that Perillus should be its first victim.

Polidoro da Caravaggio (Caravaggio ca. 1495–ca. 1543 Messina)
Christ on the Mount of Olives
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white gouache, over black chalk, on blue paper, faded to gray green; squared for transfer in black chalk
Gift of Janos Scholz, 1979; 1979.55
Photography by Graham Haber, 2009

A native of Caravaggio, near Milan, Polidoro arrived in Rome around 1517–18 and joined Raphael's team, which, at the time, was decorating the Vatican Loggie. The scene shown here, in which the sleeping apostles are slumped in various poses before a rocky ledge, with a tree at right and a mountainous landscape beyond, reveal Polidoro to have been a master of the landscape idiom.

This study has been related to a fresco of the same subject in the Capella della Passione of the church Santa Maria della Pietà in Camposanto Teutonico, Rome, thought to have been decorated by Polidoro ca. 1520–23. Other scholars have suggested that the Morgan drawing may be dated later, between 1527 and 1540, and that it served as a study for one of two lost paintings of the same subject in Sicilian private collections.

Raffaellino da Reggio (1550–1578)
The Apparition of the Angel to St. Joseph, ca. 1576
Pen and brown ink and brown wash, over red chalk
Inscribed at lower left, in pen and brown ink, Zuchero.
15 x 11 1/8 inches (381 x 282 mm)
Purchased in honor of Charles E. Pierce, Jr. by the Visiting Committee to the Department of Drawings & Prints through the generosity of Ildiko Butler, Diane A. Nixon, Andrea Woodner, Hamilton Robinson, Jr., Joan Taub Ades, Clement C. Moore II, Jayne Wrightsman, David M. Tobey, Eugene V. Thaw, George L.K. Frelinghuysen, Seymour and Helen Mae Askin, Catherine G. Curran, Melvin R. Seiden, Hubert and Mireille Goldschmidt, and Wheelock Whitney III; 2007.80

This drawing is a late compositional study for the fresco The Apparition of the Angel to St. Joseph painted around 1576 on the vault of the Orsini (later Ghislieri) Chapel in the church of San Silvestro al Quirinale in Rome. Raffaellino is said to have arrived in Rome during the pontificate of Gregory XIII (r. 1572–85) and spent the rest of his brief career there. Inspired by Taddeo Zuccaro, Raffaellino developed a virtuoso drawing style characterized by an elegant calligraphic line and generous, dark brown washes. He also contributed to the frescoes of the Villa Farnese at Caprarola.

Circle of Raphael
Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1520
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white gouache, over faint traces of black chalk
11 1/16 x 20 7/8 inches (281 x 530 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; IV, 29a

In addition to the Acts of the Apostles series for the Sistine Chapel, Raphael received a commission for a second set of tapestries, in this instance illustrating the Life of Christ. In all likelihood, Pope Leo X (r. 1513–21) initiated this project, and most of the designs were probably completed during his papacy. Often considered the most successful of the group, the tapestry of the Adoration of the Magi, which is based on the present drawing, has the strongest claim of having been designed during Raphael's lifetime. Modern scholarship has assigned to Giovanni Francesco Penni (1496?–ca. 1528) a number of finished drawings from Raphael's workshop, including, on occasion, the present study.

Raphael (1483–1520)
Study of Figures for the "Agony in the Garden"
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, on paper; traced with a stylus and pricked for transfer
8 7/8 x 6 1/2 inches (226 x 265 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; I, 15
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Raphael (Urbino 1483–1520 Rome)
Male Figure Symbolizing an Earthquake, 1515–16
Metalpoint, heightened with white, on gray prepared paper
4 1/2 inches (108 mm) diameter
Gift of Janos Scholz, 1977; 1977.45
Photography by Graham Haber, 2009.

In 1515–16 at the behest of Pope Leo X, Raphael designed a series of tapestries illustrating the Acts of the Apostles, still hanging in the Sistine Chapel. Like all known studies for this series, this drawing, which is preparatory to the scene St. Paul Released from Prison by an Earthquake, is in reverse orientation to the wall hanging. Possibly in response to Michelangelo's recently completed ceiling of the chapel, Raphael conceived the figure in a strongly muscular style, with the three-dimensional presence of the figure making it appear to almost stand in relief from the page.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.