Male Figure Symbolizing an Earthquake

Rome After Raphael
January 22 through May 9, 2010

Raphael (1483–1520)
Male Figure Symbolizing an Earthquake, 1515–16
Metalpoint, heightened with white, on gray prepared paper.
4 1/4 inches (108 mm; diameter)
Gift of Janos Scholz, acc. no. 1977.45

In 1515–16, Raphael, at the behest of Pope Leo X Medici, designed a series of tapestries illustrating the Acts of the Apostles; they still hang in the Sistine Chapel. Like all known studies for this series, the present drawing, which is preparatory to the scene of Saint 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. Its three-dimensional presence almost lifts it off the page.