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Francis DeStefano

Raphael's "Sposalizio" seems like a deliberate attempt to outstrip Perugino.


David Packwood

Hi Frank,

I'm not saying Raphael isn't competitive- of course not. It might be significant that his Spozalizio is still recognizable as deriving from Perugino. Raphael's artistic advancement comes out of both innovation and tradition. Also in the Vatican, he painted around "around" Perugino rather than over him. Michelangelo of course simply wiped out Perugino when he came to paint the Last Judgment.




H Niyazi

Thank you for this outstanding post David, and thanks also for the mention.

A deeper familiarity with these drawings can tell us much about the development of Raphael's technical abilities as a drafstman. I am also curious to know what Joannides says about this drawing - I don't have a copy yet - is it not the most recent and complete catalogue of Raphael's drawings?

In interplay between Raphael and his teachers is an interesting one. This was perhaps one of the strengths of Talvacchia's recent catalogue volume, which does a far better job at exploring Raphael himself than his works.

This idea of him being an affable, gentle soul largely derives from Vasari's accounts. If you go a level deeper you also see how it aligns quite cleanly with Leona Battista Alberti's parameters for the ideal temperament of an artist as outlined in 'De Pictura'.

For example: one of Raphaels most famous quotes(described in a letter if memory serves), that his females are idealised hybrids of the parts of many beautiful women is lifted directly from Alberti's famous treatise.

We can only surmise the degree to which both Vasari and Raphael himself were familiar with Alberti's work. As Talvacchia explains, the master from Urbino would not have reached the dizzying heights he did were he not ambitious and calculating. That he wasn't "hangman" like in his disposition is as much a reflection of his great business savvy than evidence of a gentle spirit.

I would generally concur with Frank(and Vasari), the inscription on the temple on 'Sposalizio' says much about what Raphael was trying to prove.

Fascinating topic!

Kind Regards

David Packwood

Hi H,

I am near a library- so I've had a quick look at Joannides. No. 65, catalogued as "Head of a Youth". He links to the Spozalizio and the modelo for the Journey of Aeneas Silvius, which I recall Beck rejected.

Other comments, J says Raphael was capable of this kind of drawing in 1500, though it could be earlier.Then there's just some favourable comments on the rhythm of the drawing.

J catalogues BM and Ashmoleon drawings as both self-ports, but this was 1983 and opinions have changed.


H Niyazi

Interesting! Many thanks for the update. Sounds like Joannides's definitive catalogue needs a revision.

Even some of the entries in Capellen's 1st vol catalogue raisonne(paintings in Umbria/Florence) are in need of tweaking, and that was 2000!

Yes, Beck definitely was not keen on that Aeneas Silvius drawing, he even pointed out some issues with Shearman's magnum opus of source docs on Raphael.

He definitely didn't mind treading on a few toes in the interests of critical analysis, which is always a good thing. A shame there isn't anyone around like this for Raphael at the moment.. (barring the DeFeo/Exekiel research in Italy perhaps)

I'm also waiting with baited breath to see if anyone scholar of note will respond to this Salvator Mundi business...


David Packwood

H, re your earlier comment.

I know the kind-hearted image of Raphael comes from Vasari. I don't dispute that. But there must have been some reason Michelangelo didn't like him. Was it his graceful manner, wether part of a business strategy or not. have you read Rona Goffen's Renaissance Rivals?
Talvacchia is v good on this too, especially the studio.

By the way I noticed that Gigoux's engraving emphasises the palette, when of course Verrocchio was famous as a sculptor as well. I must come back to this in another post.

Alberti's Window

Great post! I like your interpretation of Raphael's self-reliance and independence. Such an interest in individual achievement (and a focus on the individual via self-portraiture) ties well with humanism, doesn't it?

On a side note: I often wondered why Michelangelo disliked Raphael so much. Perhaps the sentiment is similar to the Bernini vs. Borromini rivalry - kind of an extrovert vs. introvert dynamic? I'm curious to look at the Goffen book that you suggested to H.

H Niyazi

@M/David - aside from more intrinsic emotional and personality factors(sometimes explored to painful unquantifiable detail by Goffen), there are some very concrete facts that can explain Michelangelo's dislike of Raphael - not the least of which was Raphael's affiliation with Bramante, also from (near) Urbino and possibly family friends (some have suggested distant relatives)

Then there is Michelangelo's disapproval of Raphael's amorous nature.

I truly wonder how much of this is rivalry is from secondary sources? We all know Vasari capable of spinning yarns for the sake of a good story


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