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Johann David Passavant (1787–1861)

Johann David Passavant began his career as a painter, studying in Rome from 1817 to 1824. His subsequent return to Frankfurt corresponded with a shift in focus to art history. In 1839 Passavant published a two-volume monograph on Raphael (Rafel von Urbino und sein Vater, Giovanni Santi) which included a biography of the artist and a catalogue raisonné of Raphael’s works. Passavant’s work is the first example of a scientific art historical monograph.

This monograph became the definitive source for the Raphael Collection project. The second volume contained essential information for their project of amassing prints and photographs after all Raphael’s known works, including a chronological list of Raphael’s paintings (giving a description of them and their locations) and a listing of his known drawings (organised according to the countries and then collections they were in). Passavant also gave important information about the reproductive prints after Raphael’s works. The Royal Collection Print Room holds an annotated copy of the French edition of Passavant’s monograph (Raphael d’Urbin et son pere Giovanni Santi, 1860), which was presumably that used for the Raphael Collection project. As the compilation of the Raphael Collection progressed, Prince Albert decided against following Passavant’s chronological listing of Raphael’s works because of difficulties engendered by differing opinions regarding the dating of many paintings. He decided instead to group the prints and photographs thematically, following the iconographic arrangement of Adam Bartsch’s recent catalogue of Old Master prints Le Peintre-gravure (1803-21). There is a small group of photographs of drawings or tracings by Passavant in the Raphael Collection, and a number of letters in the Royal Archives between Passavant and Albert’s librarians Becker and Ruland demonstrating his assistance with the collection’s compilation.