Monday, November 14, 2011

The Scarce and Exquisite Colored Engravings of Raphael's Vatican Loggia

by Stephen J. Gertz

These splendid, large-size copperplate engravings, from the suite Le Loggie di Rafaele nel Vaticano (Rome: 1772-77), after the celebrated frescoes by Raphael in the loggia of the Vatican, are scarce, with OCLC recording only two complete copies in libraries worldwide.

But a complete copy has surfaced and is being offered by Ketterer Kunst Auktions' Hamburg office in their Sale 385, lot 80, November 21, 2011. It is estimated to sell for $27,000.

The Raphael Loggia consists of thirteen arches forming a gallery sixty-five meters long and four meters wide. Its construction was begun by architect and painter  Donato Bramante in 1512, under Pope Julius II and was completed by Raphael under the reign of Leo X. Raphael began work on the frescoes in 1517.

The plates, designed by P. Camporesi, G. and L. Savorelli Teseo and engraved by G. Volpato (1733-1803) and G. Ottaviani (1735-1808), depict, in a vibrant color gouache, the pilasters, paneling, ceiling panels and two doorways with floral, figural and architectural motifs. Where human figures in the original frescoes were compromised by weathering and erosion, engravers Volpato and Ottaviani replaced them with elements from the Vatican tapestries designed by Raphael.

While Raphael's Vatican frescos were admired in their time, they were ultimately overshadowed by the work of Michaelangelo until the Neoclassicists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries rediscovered the Renaissance, and Raphael earned his place as the era's greatest artist of them all.

"Raphael is categorically the greatest painter of the last millennium, and the Loggia is his most significant legacy," says Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums and esteemed art historian.

"And yet the Loggia is the least known of Raphael's works. Millions of visitors to the Vatican Museums pass by it every year, but cannot go inside. Looking from Saint Peter's Square, it is in the second of the three glassed-in hallways across from the building in which the pope resides. When it was constructed, in the early part of the sixteenth century, it overlooked a garden. The thirteen arches of the Loggia frescoed by Raphael were not enclosed in glass until the nineteenth century. Originally, they were open to the luminous Roman sky, which made their colors even more brilliant" (Sandro Magister, Chiesa Espressonline).

Photograph of the Vatican Loggia of Raphael.

Take a video tour of the Vatican's Raphael Rooms and Loggia here.

[RAPHAEL]. Raffael Santi d'Urbino. Le Loggie di Rafaele nel Vaticano.  [Rome: 1772-77]. Three parts in one imperial folio. Suite with frontispiece and forty-two copperplate engravings in a strong color gouache, folded. Designed by P. Camporesi, G. and L. Savorelli Teseo. Engraved by J. Volpato (1733-1803) and G. Ottaviani (1735-1808).

Kat. Ornamentstich-Slg. Bln. 4068. UCBA II, 1689. Brunet IV, 1110. Thieme/B. XXVI.

Images courtesy of Ketterer Kunst Auktions, offering this volume at their November 21, 2011 sale, with our thanks.

1 comment:

  1. The Anglican Church was formed in 1534, when England's King Henry VIII was denied a marriage annulment, and proceeded to initiate a formal break from the Catholic Church. Vatican


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