Raphael – Masters Of Painting

THE date of Raphael’s arrival in Rome, and who it was that summoned him thither, are alike unknown. It was probably early in 1509 when he began his work in the Eternal City.

Raphael was then about twenty-six years of age, and for so young an artist had produced a large number of important works. Already his hand had called into existence the ” Sposalizio,” now in the Brera, at Milan ; the Ansidei Madonna of the National Gallery, the ” Entombment,” which hangs in the Borghese Gallery, the ” St. Catherine,” also in the National Gallery, the ” Knight’s Dream,” the ” Three Graces,” the St. Michael,” and two pictures of St. George. Many lovely Madonnas, also, his graceful brush had traced, — among them, the Solly, the Conestabile, the Gran Duca, the Cowper, the Orleans, the Cardellino, and the Bridgewater, nor does this list give all.

Whoever it might have been that influenced Raphael to take up his abode in Rome, it was the Pope, Julius II. who there became his great patron, as he was already the patron of Bramante and of Michael Angelo. Born in 1441 and elevated to the pontificate in 1503, Julius, at the time of Raphael’s advent at Rome, was nearing his seventieth year, but his energy showed no symptoms of decay, and his grand projects for the building of St. Peter’s, and the enlargement of the Vatican, were pushed forward with never ceasing vigor.

To Raphael, Julius assigned the decoration of those four rooms in the palace of the Vatican which are now known as the Stanze of Raphael, and where are enshrined those creations of the master’s pencil which unquestionably rank foremost among his works, and are rivalled only by the mighty frescoes which the genius of Michael Angelo spread upon the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Raphael and Michael Angelo labored near each other at Rome for a number of years, yet never seem to have been on terms of much intimacy. Each admired the genius of the other, but such intercourse as took place between them hardly merited the name of friendship. Symonds says : “If they did not understand one another and make friends, this was due to the different conceptions they were framed to take of life, the one being the exact antipodes to the other.” Angelo, less amiable than the younger artist, appears to have been prejudiced against him because he was a pupil of Perugino. Muntz says in reference to this :

“There was nothing the sculptor disliked more than the vapid style of Perugino, and he was also very much opposed to his mercenary ways. He accordingly refused him permission to see some of his pictures (perhaps his famous cartoon), which he did not like showing to any one. Perugino made some severe remark, whereupon Michael Angelo, losing his temper, called him an ‘ old woman.’ So gross an insult was not worth notice, but Perugino would not sit down under it. Twenty years before, he would have waited for Michael Angelo at the corner of the street and have given him a sound thrashing, but he was too old for that, and he perhaps remembered the fine which had been inflicted upon him some time before.

He accordingly decided to appeal to the tribunals, but he took nothing by it, for he lost his case, and his reputation declined very much in consequence. Soon afterward he went back to Umbria, where no one thought of questioning his merit, and where he was amply compensated for slights inflicted elsewhere. To my mind, the hostility between Michael Angelo and Raphael may well. have originated in this quarrel, for the. former, hot-tempered as he was, very probably vented on the pupil the ill-will he felt for the master.”

Crowe and Cavalcaselle, on the other hand, do not admit the existence of such feeling as Müntz implies. They say;

” In Tuscany, neither Raphael nor Buonarotti could dispense with the patronage of the rich, to which they both appealed. At Rome they were servants of a pontiff, who employed them both under one roof. Varieties and dissonances, which might have passed unnoticed in Tuscany, would naturally come out with exceptional force at the Vatican ; because, in the one case, the two men were necessarily thrown together, in the other, they seldom met in friendship or in enmity. Still, at Florence as at Rome, nothing pre-vented either of them from following his own bent. Raphael might charm those who knew him by a pleasing affability ; Michael Angelo might repel rather than court friendship by rudeness and sarcasm. To such of the public as understood these things, both artists were gifted with extraordinary powers, which only differed from each other in some of their subtler elements. One was all grace ; the other all strength. Two forces, directly equal and contrary, met and neutralized each other. The picture of violent and ceaseless hostility, which tradition has handed down to us as a normal state in which Raphael and Michael Angelo lived, appears to be grossly exaggerated. In all that we can gather from credible sources, as well from reasoning as from analogy, we find no more than that they were generous rivals. They had nothing to fear from each other. Neither of them could miss the goal for which they equally contended, neither fail to produce those masterpieces which surprised their contemporaries and afterward astonished the world.”

And again:

“It may be true that during the progress of the Sistine Chapel and Camere the rivalry of Raphael and Michael Angelo be-came acute. Yet there is hardly ground for thinking that it was in 1509 that Michael Angelo was threatened with the direct opposition of which Condivi and Vasari speak — the opposition which aimed at substituting Raphael for Michael Angelo in the completion of the Sistine Chapel. One of the principal grounds for thinking that no such opposition was then made is that Buonarotti continued his labors at the Vatican, whilst Raphael went on painting at the Camere. The Pope, who had easy access to both places, may have compared the pictures of the two painters, and contrasted the beauties of the ‘Disputa’ with those of the ‘Creation’ or the Deluge;’ but as each of the two masters had begun a series of works that required unity of thought as well as of handling to complete them, the anecdotes, of which artistic annals are full, can scarcely apply to the period at which we have now arrived in Raphael’s life.”

Among the anecdotes which survive concerning the relations between Raphael and Michael Angelo is one which relates that the older artist, encountering Raphael in the courtyard of the Vatican, attended by numerous pupils, sneeringly remarked, “You walk with the retinue of a prince.” To this Raphael is supposed to have replied, “And you alone, like an executioner.”

It is this episode which furnished Vernet with a subject for the painting which we reproduce. At the top of the picture, to the left, is seen Pope Julius, whose attention, Bramante, plan in hand, seeks to attract to-ward the fabric of the palace. The Supreme Pontiff, however, motions him aside with a gesture of his hand and fixes his eyes upon Raphael, who, surrounded by several fellow artists, is engaged in sketching a peasant mother and her child, seated amidst other pilgrims to the Eternal City, and forming the centre of a group suggestive of the holy family. In the foreground appears the great Buonarotti, carrying in his arms a model for one of his sculptured figures, while above Raphael, to the right, may be discerned Leonardo da Vinci (with a long gray beard) speaking to a young artist standing at his side.

The painter of “Raphael in the Vatican ” came of an artist family, both his father, Carle Vernet, and his grandfather, Joseph Vernet, being distinguished painters. Horace Vernet was born at Paris in 1789, and displayed artistic talent in early childhood. During a life of ceaseless industry and ever increasing fame, this artist produced a great number of works, mostly of military subjects. Many of his battle-pictures are to be seen at Versailles, while his ” Judith and Holofernes” and “Defence of the Barrier of Clichy” are in the Louvre. Vernet painted many scenes from the campaigns of the French in Algeria, a notable one being the ” Taking of the Smalah of Abd-el-Kader in 1843,” an enormous canvas, now in the palace of Versailles. He died at Paris, on Jan. 17, 1863.