Raphael’s Vatican Fresco

Hi again everyone! In addition to the Our Lady of Ostrabrama post, I decided to do a post on Raphael, specifically on a fresco from his Vatican creations. Around 1508, Pope Julius II, the same Pope who commissioned Michelangelo to create the Sistine Chapel, commissioned Raphael to create frescoes for the Stanza della Segnatura room. One of the frescoes that is represented in this room is the Disputation of the Holy Sacrament created around 1509 and 1510.

Raphael, Disputation of the Holy Sacrament, around 1509 and 1510
Image and Feature Image from Wikipedia

In this fresco, there is a representation of both earth and Heaven united by the Holy Sacrament. On the top half of the fresco, we see a cloud that divides Heaven from Earth; this cloud includes the heads of baby angels, which is a common depiction in Renaissance religious art. In the middle (of the top half), Christ has an extravagantly large halo design behind him. Seated next to Christ is Mary, in her red dress and blue cloak attribute, and St. John the Baptist, with a cross and hairy shirt. Around these three figures are, what seems to be, the Apostles. Above Christ is God holding onto a sphere in one hand, which is most likely Earth, and blessing the world with his other hand. Similar to the way that Christ is surrounded by a circular gold halo, God is also surrounded by a large golden background rays that emphasizes his holiness. Underneath Christ is the Holy Spirit, which has a smaller circular golden halo around it. The Holy Spirit is coming down to Earth and going directly to the Eucharist.

On the bottom half of the fresco, there is an altar with the Eucharist placed on it. This is making a reference to the act of transubstantiation, and it is most likely making a reference to the mass. All of the figures appear to be positioned in a way that emphasizes the importance of the Eucharist. This is particularly true with the man near the altar who are pointing towards the Eucharist and towards the Holy Spirit and Christ. The individuals who are in the bottom half of the fresco are different scholars and theologians who have studied religion and the Eucharist.

Overall, even though this is a crowded fresco, filled with many divine and earthly individuals, Raphael is able to create a space where the figures look elaborately and cleverly placed rather than squished together. Raphael is also playing with how he creates line, since he creates a half-circle to show the Apostles sitting next to Christ. This fresco not only demonstrates the the importance of the Eucharist and transubstantiation, but it also demonstrates the skill that Raphael had as an artist.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.