72 hours after opening its doors in Rome, at the Quirinal Stables, the exhibition devoted to Raphael, the genius of the Renaissance, closed its doors on March 8, 2020. The Vatican Museums were organizing many other events dedicated to the famous painter on the 500th anniversary of his death.
The coronavirus pandemic having taken precedence over the celebrations, Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums, said she wanted to postpone the end of the exhibition, scheduled for June 2, so that as many visitors as possible can benefit. Titled. Raffaello 1520-1483, the exhibit presents more than a hundred works by the master that have never before been brought together.
While waiting for the reopening of the Quirinal Stables, these masterpieces are being shown on the internet, Marzia Faietti, exhibition commissioner, announced on April 6, 2020 on Vatican News. “They are accompanying our forced confinement at home,” thanks to virtual tours set up on YouTube.
On April 6, 1520, Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphaël, died at the age of 37. The Italian left behind a huge pictorial body of work, but he was “not just a painter,” says Barbara Jatta. She highlighted his important contribution as an architect and curator, in an article published in L’Osservatore Romano on April 4.
Raphaël lived in the Eternal City for twelve years, from 1508 to 1520, at a time when theologians, intellectuals, and artists met. His meeting with Pope Leo X (1513-1521) was decisive, the latter appointed him architect of the Fabric of St. Peter, the organization in charge of the artistic and architectural heritage of the popes and, at that time, of the construction of the basilica. In 1515, following the architect Bramante, Raphael developed what became the “classical style” of St. Peter’s in Rome, explained the director of the Vatican Museums. The works of the basilica, in which he participated, would be finished a century after his death, in 1626. We also owe to Raphael the very beautiful dome of the Chigi Chapel in the Roman basilica Santa Maria del Popolo and the loggia of the second floor of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
Leo X also entrusted him with the office of Curator of Antiquities, with the mission of preserving the ancient heritage of Rome. As a result, Barbara Jatta emphasizes, today the Vatican Museums still carry the legacy of this “Raphaelesque sensibility,” with lots of attention to the art and historical treasures of the city’s past.