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Alte Pinakothek announces collection presentation to mark the 500 anniversary of Raphael's death
Raphael (1483 –1520), Canigiani Holy Family, ca. 1507 (detail). Oil on panel, 131 x 107 cm © Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

MUNICH.- Raphael celebrated the greatest success with his art in Rome where he died 500 years ago. The many panel paintings and wall frescoes that he managed to complete there in little more than a decade have secured his international fame to this day. As the painter of pictures of sublime beauty Raphael attained cult status in the 19th century, in particular. Ludwig I of Bavaria and his gallery director, Johann Georg von Dillis, revered him as the ‘king of painting’.

The 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death provides an occasion to recall the history of his fame and to reflect on the extent his works influenced the pictorial language of the western world in the modern period. For this reason, an early, major work by the great master, the so-called Canigiani Holy Family, forms the focal point of the Florentine Room at the Alte Pinakothek, the foundation stone of which was laid in 1826 on Raphael’s birthday.

This focussed collection presentation with five works from the Alte Pinakothek, including two devotional pictures by Raphael, places the Canigiani Holy Family in dialogue with a painting by Friedrich Overbeck from the Neue Pinakothek and a loan from the Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung – a porcelain picture by Christian Adler. Together with an altar painting by Pietro Perugino and a work by Fra Bartolommeo the selection draws attention to the fact that the career of the artist, born Raffaelo Sanzio in Urbino in 1483, had its beginnings in Umbria and Tuscany.

Between 1504 and 1508 Raphael remained mostly in Florence and explored Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo’s spectacular creations in his compositions. He also used his sound knowledge of Fra Bartolommeo’s works equally masterfully for his own pictorial inventions. In this way he upheld his position among Florentine painters and attracted significant commissions for private devotional paintings, several portraits and an altar painting. The ‘Holy Family’ was commissioned by Domenico Canigiani, a wealthy cloth merchant and Medici partisan from Florence, on the occasion of his wedding in 1507.

Thirty-seven years ago, the painting was restored to mark the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s birth. Hidden under a later overpainting, eight angels floating in clouds came to light. They tell of the chequered history of the first ‘Raphael’ in Germany: the Canigiani Holy Family that was originally displayed in the Tribuna, the octagonal main hall in the Uffizi in Florence. It then entered the gallery of Johann Wilhelm II, Elector Palatine, in Düsseldorf as a gift of the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1697, before being transferred to Munich in 1806.

The painting Mary and Elizabeth with Jesus and John the Baptist of 1825 by Friedrich Overbeck is exemplary of the esteem in which Raphael was held in the 19th century, his importance for German Romanticism and especially for the so-called Nazarene circle of artists. His painting is an impressive homage to the great Renaissance master in which he rekindles the spirit of Raphael’s work without merely imitating him by copying or adopting his motifs.

Curator: Dr. Andreas Schumacher; research assistant: Dr. Andreas Raub

While the Alte Pinakothek is closed due to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 until at least 20 April, more detailed information on the exhibition is available digitally on our exhibition website and on social media under the hashtag #PinaRaphael

An album on the special presentation can be found in the online collection of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen:

Raphael’s Canigiani Holy Family in the ZDFkultur report ‘Geheimnis der Bilder’:

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