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Depictions of episodes from the Gospels

After Raphael (Urbino 1483-Rome 1520)

The head of an apostle for 'The Transfiguration' c.1853-1876

Albumen print | 39.9 x 26.6 cm (whole object) | RCIN 850362

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A photograph of an auxiliary cartoon by Raphael (c.1519-20) now in the Albertina Museum, Vienna (inv. no. 242) for the head of an apostle in The Transfiguration, a painting executed by Raphael (c.1518-20) now in the Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome (inv. no. 333). See RCIN 850327 for a photograph of the painting. This photograph is inscribed with the title, the attribution of the drawing to Raphael and its location.

A photograph of this drawing is also included in the 'Studies of Heads' section of the Raphael Collection (see RCIN 854448).

Although there are no documents directly related to this commission, information about the genesis of The Transfiguration can be gathered from contemporary correspondence about the Raising of Lazarus, a painting by Sebastiano del Piombo now in the National Gallery, London (inv, no. NG1). Both paintings were commissioned c. 1516-17 by cardinal Giulio de Medici (the future Pope Clement VII) for the cathedral of Narbonne. Sebastiano started his painting earlier than Raphael and presented it to the Pope in 1519. According to Vasari, The Transfiguration was Raphael's last painting as he died prematurely on 6 April 1520, by which time the painting was probably largely completed. The painting was never sent to Narbonne and from 1523 hung in the church of S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome until it was confiscated by the French in 1797 and taken to Paris. After the fall of Napoleon, the painting was brought back to Italy and initially displayed in the Borgia Apartment, Vatican.

This painting depicts two different scenes: the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor (in the upper register) and the Healing of the possessed boy (in the lower register), which are based on two distinct passages from the Gospels of Matthew (17: 1-20), Mark (9: 2-29) and Luke (9: 28-43). Many drawings and modelli for this painting survive, which are vital to understanding the genesis and finalisation of the pictorial programme.

Giorgio Vasari's opinion that The Transfiguration was the last painting that Raphael executed without the aid of his workshop was not disputed until the mid-eighteenth century, when scholars suggested that, after the death of Raphael, Giulio Romano completed the painting and was responsible for lower right half of the picture. However, restoration of the painting in the 1970s confirmed Vasari's opinion and the painting is now generally considered to be by Raphael "except for a few small areas which were never completed" (see Bibliographic References for further discussion).
  • Creator(s)

    After Raphael (Urbino 1483-Rome 1520) (artist)

    Subject(s)
    Jesus Christ
    Saint Elias
    Moses(OT)
    St John
    Saint Peter
    Saint James
    Saint Julius
    Saint Pastor
  • 39.9 x 26.6 cm (whole object)

    21.2 x 16.2 cm (sheet of paper)

  • Étude de tete d'une des figures du tableau / du la transfiguration / Kopf-studie einer der Figuren des Gemaldes "Die Transfiguration"

  • Acquired for the Prince Consort's Raphael Collection (c.1853-76)

  • Object type(s)
      • visual works
        • photographs
    Subject(s)
    • Religion & Theology
      • Religions and faiths
        • Christianity
          • Life of Christ
            • Public Life of Christ
              • Transfiguration of Christ
    • Science, Medicine and Technology
      • Medical sciences
        • Anatomy
          • Heads
  • Other number(s)

    Ruland p.29 A.VIII.82

    Bibliographic reference(s)

    Joannides 1983 : Joannides, P., 1983. The Drawings of Raphael, with a complete catalogue, Oxford p. 241, no. 432

    Capellen 2005 : Capellen, JM, 2005. Raphael : the paintings. Volume 2, The Roman Religious Paintings ca.1508-1520 pp. 195-209, no. 66

    Raphael Invenit 1985 : G. Bernini Pezzini et al., Raphael Invenit. Stampe di Raffaello nelle Collezioni dell'Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, Rome, 1985 pp. 177-181, no. X.1-19