The Making of a Legend

by Danilo Brunetti

An extraordinary new exhibit explores the life’s work of one of the greatest artists of all time. Tiffany Parks shares her preview.

This year, the art world commemorates the death, 500 years ago this spring, of one of the greatest painters ever to walk the earth: Renaissance master Raphael Sanzio. Rome, the city where he spent the bulk of his career, is celebrating the event with an epic exhibition of over two hundred masterpieces, including paintings and drawings by Raphael as well as his contemporaries.

Jointly organized by the Scuderie del Quirinale—one of Rome’s most prestigious exhibition spaces—and Florence’s Uffizi, the exhibit brings together over one hundred paintings and drawings by Raphael, the largest number ever assembled. A vast number of works come from the Uffizi, 40 by Raphael alone, with other pieces on loan from the world’s heavy-weight museums: Palazzo Barberini, Bologna’s Pinacoteca Nazionale, Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (both in Naples), the Vatican Museums, the Louvre, London’s National Gallery, the Prado in Madrid, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Vienna’s Albertina, the British Museum, the Royal Collection, the Ashmolean Museum, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lille, to name but a few. 
The exhibition focuses heavily on Raphael’s Roman period, where his singular talent and vision established him as an artist of legendary mastery while still a very young man. The masterpieces showcased retrace the entirety of his complex creative trajectory with a wealth of detail, alongside works by his contemporary artists that provide valuable historical context. The long list of paintings on display include works of world-wide renown such as Madonna del Granduca and Woman with a Veil, both from the Uffizi; Santa Cecilia from the Pinacoteca, Bologna, the AlbaMadonna, on loan from the National Gallery in Washington, the Portrait of Baldassarre Castiglione and Self-Portrait with Friend from the Louvre, and the Madonna of the Rose from the Prado. The exhibition opens on 5 March at the Scuderie del Quirinale.