The offered pair of pilasters are rich in detailed Renaissance designs inspired by ancient Roman art. Each pilaster is essentially comprised of three vertical panels. The panels are set within moldings at top and bottom, and decorated with a rosette frieze under the top molding, and a medial Vitruvian scroll frieze in the lower portion. Each central vertical panel is decorated with classical figures and grotesques, above a vivid picture of an animal (one of ducks, the other a winged dragon). These are flanked by symmetrical vertical panels comprised of grisaille paintings of mythological and allegorical figures and emblems above faux marble reserves. Loggia di Rafaele contains both asymmetrical pilasters and symmetrical ones like these with continuous molding across the top. The symmetrical ones generally are considered the more desirable and valuable of the pilaster prints from the series.
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. 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.
Full publication information: “Ludovicus Teseo Taurinensis delin. Joannes Volpato sculp. Romae 1775” (pilaster with ducks); “Ludovicus Teseo Taurinensis delin. Joannes Volpato sculp. Romae 1776” (pilaster with dragon).
Condition: Generally very good with only minor toning and wear. Center horizontal fold, as issued. Margins trimmed close or within platemark, probably as issued. Margin of one print professionally extended with matching 18th Century paper, about 1 inch to allow for framing. Framed in matching gold leaf frames, with exterior linen mat and gold leaf bevel. Frames very good with some light wear and restorations to abrasions.
Alphabetischer Katalog der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz. Hildesheim, Berlin: 1987. 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, Jacques-Charles. Manuel du Libraire et de l’Amateur de Livres. Berlin: Josef Altmann, 1922 (reprint). Vol. 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.