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Two of the Three Graces


Albumen print | 23.6 x 17.9 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 854547

A photograph of a drawing depicting two of the Three Graces, a statue housed in the centre of the Piccolomini Library, which is a Roman copy after a Hellenistic original (4th-2nd century BC). This drawing is now in the Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice (inv. no. 81 recto) and features a study for a woman on the verso (see RCIN 854269 for a photograph of the verso).

The statue is documented as having been in the Library from the beginning of the 16th century, but it was moved out under Pope Pius IX in the 19th century because it was considered not appropriate for that location; it was later moved back to its original place, but then moved out again under Mussolini's regime, before finally being returned to the Library in 1974.

The Piccolomini Library, in Siena Cathedral, was painted by Pinturicchio and his workshop (1502-07/08) with the aid of preparatory drawings by Raphael. The decoration of the Piccolomini library was commissioned by Cardinal Francesco Todeschino Piccolomini (later Pope Pius III) in 1502 from Raphael's older Perugian contemporary Pinturicchio. The frescoes illustrate events in the life of Pope Pius II (Enea Silvio Piccolomini), the Cardinal's uncle. Vasari credited Raphael with executing 'some drawings and some cartoons' for the library at the express request of Pinturicchio. Scholarly opinion has been divided over the attribution of preparatory drawings for the frescoes, but at least five drawings convincingly related to the decorative scheme are considered to be by Raphael (see Bibliographic References).

Ferino Pagden (see Bibliographic References) notes that scholars interpreted the inclusion of this drawing in the sketchbook in different ways, also in relation with the painting of the same subject executed by Raphael (c.1504) and now in the Musée Condé, Chantilly  (inv. no.38). See RCIN 851651 for a photograph of the painting. Ferino Pagden underlines similarities between the painting and this drawing in the way the slim appearance of the antique statue has been treated, conveying a more florid and sensual feeling.

This drawing is part of the so-called "Libretto di Raffaello" or "Libretto Veneziano", 53 sheets that used to be mounted in a volume. After complicated negotiations, the sketchbook was bought by the museum in the 1820s, after the death of Giuseppe Bossi, who was its previous owner. A number of scholars debated the author of the drawings (with many names proposed, such as Pinturicchio, Antonio da Viterbo, Eusebio del Giorgio, Girolamo Genga) and their date. In 1984, the Gallerie dell'Accademia catalogued the drawings as by an artist contemporary to Raphael, whose juvenile works he copied in this sketchbook (see Bibliographic References).

  • Creator(s)

    After a work associated with Raphael (Urbino 1483-Rome 1520) (artist)

    After a work associated with Bernardino Pinturicchio (c. 1452-1513) (artist)

  • 23.6 x 17.9 cm (sheet of paper)

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

  • Bibliographic reference(s)

    pp.162-5, no. 15 (Capellen 2001 : Capellen, JM, 2001. Raphael : the paintings. Volume 1, The Beginning in Umbria and Florence ca.1500-1508 )

    pp.23-26 (Chapman/Plazzotta/Henry 2004 : Chapman, H, Plazzotta, C, Henry, T. Raphael. From Urbino to Rome. London, 2004)

    nos 56-61 (Joannides 1983 : Joannides, P., 1983. The Drawings of Raphael, with a complete catalogue, Oxford)