In the image, God is personified in a hexagonal frame at the top of the fresco as a gray-bearded man in flowing red robes, dramatically pushing apart fiery clouds of darkness as light shines through the opening created by his action. The hexagon is set within a semi-circular Gothic architectural structure, divided into diamond-shaped and triangular windows; within each is a winged angel. Below this vault is the arch. It incorporates a garland against a “fresco blue” field and grisaille figures and emblems, most prominently a pair of winged beasts flanking a caduceus in the center. The rectangular reserves in the spandrels illustrate two seated figures — a semi-nude male in the upper left, and a draped female on the right, blowing a horn.
Raphael was one of the three greatest artists of the Italian High Renaissance and an accomplished architect as well. As chief archeologist to the Pope, he was involved in the excavation of the ancient Golden House of Nero, and adapted many of the elaborate Roman frescoes he saw there in creating his own innovative painted wall and ceiling designs in the Vatican and private villas in Rome. Prints made after Raphael’s drawings, designs and paintings were produced during his lifetime by the engraver Marcantonio Raimondi (c.1470-1482 – c. 1527-1534). Raphael prints by other engravers were especially popular in the neoclassical period of the mid 18th century and early 19th century coinciding with the tremendous revival of interest in the classical art of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as the classicism of the Renaissance. Some of these prints served as references for architects and designers because many were based on frescoes that had been incorporated into interior architecture. This interest in Raphael, often reflected in prints, continued throughout the 19th century as he achieved legendary status.
Among the more famous prints after Raphael are series from the late 18th century illustrating his frescoes in the Vatican stanze (notably Picturae Raphaelis Sanctii Urbinatis,Rome: 1722); the Vatican loggia (notably Loggia di Rafaele nel Vaticano, Rome: 1772-77) and the Villa Farnesina in Rome (notably Psyches et Amoris Nuptiae ac Fabula, Rome: 1693). One popular set, variously issued as engravings and lithographs during the 19th century, shows details of Raphael’s allegorical frescoes of 12 hours of the day and night. A related set of engravings depicts the gods and goddesses of the Roman pantheon riding in chariots in their heavenly domain, probably representing the seven days of the week.
The prints in this set are based on renderings by the painter Gaetano Savorelli and the draughtsman Ludovico Teseo. Pietro Camporesi (1726-1781), a Roman architect worked for Pope Clemens XIII and Pius VI in the 18th Century on rooms for the Vatican Museum, and contributed to designs in Loggia di Rafaele nel Vaticano, particularly its frontispiece. The prints were etched and engraved by Giovanni Ottaviani and Giovanni Volpato (1740-1803). These artists took some liberties in borrowing elements from Raphael’s Vatican tapestries to fill in elements that were illegible in the original frescoes due to deterioration over time. Thus, the prints are amalgam of actual and supposed design elements of Raphael.
Condition: Generally very good with only minor toning and wear. Center horizontal fold, as issued.
Berlin “Kat.” 4068, 4066.
Bernini Pezzini, Grazia, and Giorgio Marini. Raphael Invenit: Stampe da Rafaello. Rome: 1985. Volpato 1; Ottaviano 2-19 and Dorigny 37-46.
Brunet IV. 110, 1111.
Giovanni Volpato 1735- 1803. Bassano del Grappa, Italy: Ghedina & Tassotti, 1988. 173.
Netzer, Susanne. Raphael: Reproduktions-graphik aus vier Jahrhunderten. Coburg: 1984. p.104, No. 245.