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Alte Pinakothek gets new frame for Italian painter Raphael’s ‘The Canigiani Holy Family’
Raphael’s ‘The Canigiani Holy Family’ has been on show for a few days now in its new frame.
MUNICH.- Following a considerable amount of artistic craftsmanship – carpentry, carving and gilding – preceded by detailed planning and design work, it’s now ready: Raphael’s ‘The Canigiani Holy Family’, a major work from his creative period in Florence , has been on show for a few days now in its new frame.

As in the case of most works by Old Master’s, the painting’s original frame had been lost. In Florence during the Renaissance, altar and devotional pictures were generally surrounded by decorative architectural frames; the large-format devotional image painted by Raphael around 1506 for the merchant Domenico Canigiani of Florence was also probably encased in a so-called tabernacle frame. The masterpiece was a present from the Medici’s around 1700 to the Court at Düsseldorf from where it finally made its way to Munich in 1806. An historical frame in the depot of the Alte Pinakothek and original models made in Florence around 1500 were used as the basis for the new tabaernacle frame, made over the past few months in the traditional workshop of Karl Pfefferle in Munich. It comprises a richly moulded plinth with a narrow ledge, fluted pilasters with composite capitals and a broad, equally richly moulded architrave with a ledge and an egg-and-dart cornice.

The figures of the Holy Family have been placed in a rather formal pyramidal composition, in contrast to the informality within the scene, expressed in the glances and interrelations that are developed between the individuals and that strongly bolster the composition. The exacting observation of interpersonal behavior gives the painting its natural feel, in spite of its somewhat rigid outward appearance. The groups of angels, which were over-painted in the late 18th century and restored in 1983, are important for the balance of the entire composition.

In Raphael's work the art of the Roman High Renaissance attained full maturity. Born in 1483 in Urbino, he was initially a pupil of his father Giovanni Santi, (died 1494), and at the latest by 1499 an assistant to Perugino in Perugia, where he also came into contact with Pintoricchio, who was working there then. From 1504/05 until 1508 he was in Florence, where he studied the workshop of Fra Bartolommeo, Leonardo and Michelangelo. During this period he painted in particular a number of small-scale depictions of the Madonna, as well as portraits. Towards the end of 1508 he was called to Rome by Pope Julius II to decorate apartments (the Stanze) in the Vatican. Of the other major works from his Roman period mention should be made of the fresco of Galatea in the Villa Farnesina, completed in 1514, the cartoons executed 1515/16 for the tapestries in the Sistine Chapel, and the depiction of St. Cecilia painted c.1515 for the church of S. Giovanni in Monte in Bologna, (now in the Academy there). The decorations for the Vatican Loggias painted between 1517 and 1519 were designed by Raphael and executed by his workshop. After his arrival in Rome he was also entrusted with a number of significant architectural projects; indeed from 1515 he was principal architect to the Fabbrica di San Pietro, (i.e. to those engaged on the building of St. Peter's). From 1519 he worked on the Transfiguration for S. Pietro in Montorio, (now in the Vatican); but this workshop was unfinished when he died in Rome in 1520. He was buried in the Pantheon.

Thanks to the authentic structure and ornamentation as well as its carefully patinised finish, the painting’s frame now finally corresponds to its status, epoch and origin. It accentuates the impact of the complex composition of figures perfectly and makes the work the focal point of the current presentation of Italian Renaissance painting in Room IV in the Alte Pinakothek.





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