One of the greatest High Renaissance artists in Italy was Raphael, along with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. His work is seen as some of the greatest of his time, along with his contemporaries. Compared to Michelangelo’s and da Vinci’s art style, Raphael creates art figures that are calm and embrace the simplicity of the human form. While Michelangelo and da Vinci usually focus on ideal figures with muscular bodies, emphasizing the intensity of the human figure.
The painting that I wanted to go over today is Transfiguration created in 1516-1520.
This art piece is the last painting that Raphael had worked on before his death at age 37. This work was commissioned by Cardinal Giulio de Medici (later became Pope Clement VII). It was meant to be placed in the Narbonne Cathedral in France. However, after Raphael’s death, Cardinal de Medici kept it and donated it to the church of Saint Pedro in Italy. In 1797 it was taken to Paris, but soon brought back in 1815.
This painting has two scenes combined together, the Transfiguration of Christ and the Miracle of the Possessed boy from the Gospel of Matthew. The top half of the painting shows Christ going up into Heaven. On his right is the Prophet Moses, and on his left is the Prophet Elijah. John the Evangelist, Peter, and James are underneath Christ, and they are able to see Christ’s body become glorious and Heavenly. They are also able to see the glories of Heaven.
On the bottom half of the painting, the apostles are there drawn to the beautiful light coming from Christ. There are some apostles that are praying, and others who are pointing to Christ. In this scene there is a boy, who was previously possessed. The apostles who are pointing up may be showing this boy that this is Christ, the son of God who saved/helped him.
I absolutely love this artwork, it deals with religious subject matter during the Renaissance by one of my favorite artists. It’s interesting to see how this was Raphael’s last masterpiece, before he died at 37! This is what he left the world with, and it definitely represents his lifetime of other religious and magnificent works.
Raphael, School of Athens, 1509-1511