On the 500th anniversary of Raphael Sanzio’s death, on February 16 the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington D.C. inaugurated “Raphael and his circle”, an exhibition with drawings by Raphael and his most distinguished pupils – Giulio Romano, Perino del Vaga and Polidoro da Caravaggio – and some of the best engravings by the main interpreters of the Raphaelesque tradition. Coinciding with the opening of the exhibition, which will be on view until June 14th, the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington DC, organized, on February 19th, a lecture by Jonathan Bober, Andrew W. Mellon Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the NGA, on the life and work of Raphael.
“After Leonardo’s celebrations last year,” Ambassador Varricchio commented, “Italy and the whole world now turn their attention to another great genius of the Italian Renaissance, Raphael, who to this day represents an essential reference point in the artistic and cultural field. These Washington initiatives kick-off the anniversary celebrations in the US and further strengthen the well-established excellent collaboration between the Embassy and the National Gallery of Art, one of the most prestigious and loved cultural institutions in this Country.”
Curator Jonathan Bober said: “The NGA owns the largest and most important group of works by Raphael outside of Europe and we feel very fortunate to be able to partake in the celebrations of the fifth centenary of the death of the Maestro in such a relevant and comprehensive way, through significant loans to major museum worldwide, but also through our permanent display of works by Raphael and through this exhibition of drawings and prints from our own collection.”
These initiatives are part of the celebrations being held in Italy and other countries for the 500th anniversary, including the large monographic exhibition to on view at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome from March 5th to June 2th, the flagship event of the Raphaelesque celebrations, for which the NGA has lent the painting “Alba Madonna” by Raphael from its permanent collection.
The lecture at the Embassy is the first of a series of events that the Embassy, the diplomatic-consular network and the Italian Cultural Institutes in the USA are organizing, in collaboration American institutions, to celebrate the great Renaissance artist on the 500th anniversary of his death.
During the year, concerts in tribute to Raphael will be held in Washington and Los Angeles, in particular by renowned lutist Simone Vallerotonda who will execute a program of works composed during the period in which Raphael painted for Pope Julius II, accompanied by projections of the main works of the painter. Documentaries and films on the painter from Urbino will be screened in Los Angeles with “Raffaello. The Prince of the Arts” and in Detroit with “Raffaelo Sanzio. The Prodigy of Perfection.” Furthermore, conferences will be held in cities across the US by prominent experts: in Chicago in collaboration with the Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies, the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago, in San Francisco with the Stanford University, the Legion of Honor Museum and Humanities West and in Los Angeles with the University of Southern California. Further exhibitions and initiatives are planned in New York, Philadelphia and in other cities across the Counrty.