Thursday, January 26, 2012

Running into some old friends at an exhibit

The most enjoyable thing about taking a long afternoon to visit the Renaissance in Rome exhibit, besides getting the chance to see so much amazing art in one place, was the sensation I kept getting that I was bumping into an old friend.

Portrait of Cardinal Tommaso Inghirami, called "Fedra", Raphael Sanzio

This first one I would never have noticed on my own. The audio-guide informed me that the Cardinal above had also appeared in Raphael's School of Athens, although at the moment I couldn't imagine where.

The School of Athens, Raphael Sanzio, Vatican Museums

I had to look at it up close in a book to find him, and there he was, with a jaunty wreath around his head: Epicurius, looking much more fun-loving than his portrait above.

Detail of School of Athens, Raphael Sanzio, Vatican Museums

This commemorative coin also was too familiar, but much easier to place, given that it was minted on occasion of the laying of the first stone of the new St. Peter's Basilica in 1506.

What St. Peter's would have looked like if Bramante had had his way:

These are all well and good, but the next two works are what really brought a smile to my face:

Portrait of Michelangelo as Moses, Federico Zuccari, 1593

Michelangelo, posing (at least in Zuccari's imagination) as one of his greatest works, Moses, at St. Peter's in Chains. It is unmistakable. But what I really love is Michelangelo's smile. We usually see him wallowing in grief and self-pity in his self-portraits, so it's nice to see another artist capture a lighter side to his personality, whether or not it existed.

Moses, Michelangelo Buonarroti, San Pietro in Vincoli

Curiosity: there is a small flaw on the right knee of the Moses. According to legend, when Michelangelo finished it, he was so struck by how life-like his work was, he hit the statue on the knee with a chisel and yelled, "Now speak!"

Portrait of Raphael as Isaiah, Federico Zuccari, 1593.

Beside Michelangelo as Moses sits Federico Zuccari's similarly styled (but not nearly as moving) Raphael as Isaiah.

Isaiah, Raphael Sanzio. Chiesa Sant'Agostino, Rome.

This small fresco that inspired it can be found on a pillar in Sant'Agostino church, (but is often overlooked by tourists or art-seekers who visit that church to see the Madonna di Loreto by Caravaggio). Wait a minute? Where have I seen that angel before? The one behind Isaiah's right shoulder? Oh, yes! The very same exhibit! Ah, how everything comes full circle...

Photos 1, 4, 6, 10: Courtesy of Arthemesia Group.
Other photo sources: 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9

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