…The tapestries had a historic state visit to London in September 2010. They were sent by the present Pope to be exhibited at the V & A Museum.
You will have to hurry if you want to see the magnificent tapestries designed by Raphael. In honor of his birthday, they will only be on display at the Sistine Chapel in Rome until February 23, 2020. It was my privilege to visit Rome and see the Sistine Chapel, which is a once in a life time experience. As a student of history, I marvel that during WWII the great works of art were not completely destroyed or confiscated by the enemy invaders. Thanks to the bravery of the men of the Church and regular citizens, of whom lost their lives, we have these beauties to enjoy today. The Monuments Men movie gives a great understanding to the importance of protecting our history and the works to whom great men dedicated their lives. It is my hope that you will enjoy this writing and those who are shown as contributors. NWB
A dozen tapestries designed by Renaissance artist Raphael are currently on view in their original home—the Sistine Chapel—for the first time in more than 400 years. But there’s a catch: The fragile works, commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1515 to complement Michelangelo’s famed frescoes, will adorn the chapel’s walls for just one week. The exhibition offers a rare chance to see the tapestries, which depict scenes from the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul, in their intended space rather than behind conservation glass. The last time the Vatican held a similar exhibit was in 1983, the fifth centennial of Raphael’s birth. According to Henry Kamm of the New York Times, only eight of the ten main tapestries made it into this display. At the time, one of the remaining works was on loan to a museum in New York; the other was undergoing restoration.
Now, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, the full set of ten masterworks and two border tapestries has returned to the Sistine Chapel for a limited engagement. As exhibition curator Alessandra Rodolfo tells Reuters’ Philip Pullella, the last recorded instance of all 12 tapestries being hung in the chapel together dates to the late 1500s. (Smithsonian Magazine)
ABOUT THE TAPESTRIES:
(CNN and Staff Writers)
The four were commissioned in 1515 from the artist Raphael (Fafaello Sanzio da Urbino 1483-1520) especially for the Sistine Chapel. This was the first time in 500 years that the tapestries had hung alongside the original cartoons that Raphael had painted for the weavers so they could complete this fabulous series of sensational textiles. There are ten in existence, but some scholars speculate that originally sixteen may have been planned.From the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries in Europe most rulers or heads of important families were continually on the move. Tapestries were a way of having instant decor. They added prestige to any setting and practically helped with droughts in stone castles or chateaux, which were evolving with extended periods of peace from places of refuge into being country houses. Their narrative subjects were very attractive and they usually featured scenes from mythology, from the Bible, or of hunting and court life.At the time these were manufactured, weaving was considered the most important art form and expression of cultural development. They demonstrated the wealth and status of the ruling families of Italy, Europe and England and, had the advantage of being easily transportable.
The tapestries made for the Sistine Chapel to Raphael’s designs were woven between 1516 and 1521, They are of wool, which has been intertwined with silk and gilt metal wrapped thread. They were made in the workshop of Pieter van Aelst at Brussels the main centre for tapestry production in Europe at that time.
It would have been no mean feat. The weavers would have been constantly challenged working to Raphael’s painted cartoons, without the benefit of being able to enter into any sort of dialogue with the artist himself who had no part in their production. The technical difficulties were mind boggling and the finished tapestries are a tribute to the level of expertise, experience and considerable skill the weavers had attained. One of the reasons Raphael gained the commission is that he had successfully designed the grotesque style painted decoration for architect Donato Bramante’s Gallery in the Vatican Palace .The painting of the walls and vaults of the loggia were completed by pupils under his supervision and are a high point of Renaissance art.He proved, through his attention to detail an ability to produce a design that could be transmitted to another medium. The tapestries exist because of one man, Pope Leo X (1475 – 1521) who commissioned them. He knew the richness of these amazing textiles would compliment, and not be overwhelmed by the painted glory perfected by Michelangelo when completing his ‘art above.’
POPE LEO X: Born into the famous Medici family at Florence, whose patronage of the arts at Florence the cradle of the Renaissance world, Leo X was already celebrated as a prince of peace and acknowledged as connoisseur of music when he ascended the papal throne. His classical education had been thorough and included poetry, literature and music alongside theology, philosophy and the ancients.His love of culture and the arts did not conflict with his worship. And, his interest in the humanities meant that he sought to actively combine, in religious harmony, the past and present while helping to plan the future of the church at Rome.Part of his role as Pope and leader of the Christian church, as the sun rose on the fifteenth century, was to encourage his countries cultural development. As tapestry was considered societies most prestigious art form it is no surprise he chose to hang them in the Sistine chapel.The tapestries illustrate scenes from the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul long regarded as the founders of the Christian Church. They were at the source of the Pope’s authority and power.
HOW THE TAPESTRIES WERE MADE AND PRESERVED:
The Raphael Cartoons were design drawings made up of a mosaic of hundreds of sheets of paper glued together which was then fixed to the wall. Raphael and his assistants would have painted them in situ. Then they would then have been rolled for transport to Brussels to Pietr Van Aelst’s studio where they would have been cut up into strips for use by the tapestry weavers. The tapestries have had a turbulent history. They were pawned to pay for Pope Leo X’s funeral and recovered for the coronation of Hadrian VI (1522-3). They were stolen during the Sack of Rome in 1527, and after many adventures returned to the papal collection between 1544 and 1554. They were looted again during a French occupation of Rome in 1798 and purchased by a second hand dealer very cheaply. They were bought back again in 1808 and restored to the Vatican collection.
As part of the journey associated with every aspect of the design commission, the cartoons arrived in England after King Charles I paid £300 in 1623 to obtain them.He bought them as designs for tapestries and as painters by his time were being recognized for their individual talents, they would have proved a good investment for the crown. It was at the end of the seventeenth century when they were framed as paintings in their own right. It was Queen Victoria who sent them along to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1865 and they have been in the public domain ever since. Originally they had woven borders showing scenes from Leo’s life, also believed to have been designed by Raphael. However the cartoons for these did not survive.
As Mark Evans who produced the splendidly detailed and scholarly catalog for the exhibition held at London in 2010 said ‘despite the toll of time those who have the good fortune to admire these beautiful tapestries five centuries after their creation can confirm the challenge to make them was triumphantly met”.
SHORT VIDEO: Turn on sound. After watching, be certain to scroll down to the 360 tour video of the Sistine Chapel.
360 VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL (The tapestries are not shown here…only the great art. It will move slowly around the room for a closer view of Michelangelo’s amazing works. View at your leisure. )
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. (Michaelangelo)
We as parents often think we know what is best for our children. In one case in history, the parent had it all wrong. Michelangelo’s father did not want him to become an artist. To be an artist was considered below his social class. ( Born March 6, 1475 in Caprese, Republic of Florence, Italy and died February 18, 1564 in Rome.)
“Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then, he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.
The frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican are probably the best known. Michelangelo became an art apprentice relatively late, at 13, perhaps after overcoming his father’s objections. He was apprenticed to the city’s most prominent painter, Domenico Ghirlandaio, for a three-year term, but he left after one year, having nothing more to learn…In 1504 he agreed to paint a huge fresco for the Sala del Gran Consiglio of the Florence city hall to form a pair with another just begun by Leonardo da Vinci. Both murals recorded military victories by the city (Michelangelo’s was the Battle of Cascina), but each also gave testimony to the special skills of the city’s much-vaunted artists…Pope Julius II call to Michelangelo to come to Rome spelled an end to both of these Florentine projects. The pope sought a tomb for which Michelangelo was to carve 40 large statues… Pope Julius had an ambitious imagination, parallel to Michelangelo’s, but because of other projects, such as the new building of St. Peter’s and his military campaigns, he evidently became disturbed soon by the cost. Michelangelo believed that Bramanti, the equally prestigious architect at St. Peter’s, had influenced the pope to cut off his funds. He left Rome, but the pope brought pressure on the city authorities of Florence to send him back. He was put to work on a colossal bronze statue of the pope in his newly conquered city of Bologna (which the citizens pulled down soon after when they drove the papal army out) and then on the less expensive project of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508–12).” (Credit Encyclopedia Brittanica by Creighton Gilbert)
The Sistine Chapel: From 1508-1512, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a series of frescoes that portrayed several biblical stories. Perhaps the most famous image from the ceiling is The Creation of Adam, which depicts God giving life to the first human, Adam. (Wikipedia)
After viewing the chapel, click your back arrow to see the VIDEO below. (turn up sound)
To chisel in stone a creation takes more than the idea…but also the sweat and toil that goes with it. To carve any statue or a part of a building took hands and a hammer…with usually a price to pay. Recently I watched where statues that were carefully created are being removed and stored in some place to possibly be forgotten. Our children will not be able to see the beauty of a carved work of art, regardless of who may be represented in the statue.
In the Middle East, ISIS destroyed works of art carved into hillsides and in temples and museums. Gone from the earth because of dissent, mistrust, and complete disrespect for beauty or labor in stone…never to be seen again.
If ISIS could take over cities in Europe or the Vatican, would they also destroy the priceless statues and antiquities that were made in the name of the Christian faith, as they have done in the Middle East to museum works of art that are thousands of years old? See video link of destruction
The amazing works of art and marble statues could have been lost forever during World War II if it had not been for those who hid them or those who discovered them when it was ordered that they should be destroyed if Hitler should lose the war. The most famous true story of this is when the American army sent art experts to find where the Nazi regime had hidden them. This is better known by the film called Monuments Men.
Perhaps the greatest sculptor in stonework in history was Michaelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, 1475-1564. He aimed high for perfection in all that he made out of stone and in the paintings that he painted. He had the greatest influence on art in the Renaissance period and beyond. Not only did he produce some of the greatest stone works of art, but his masterpieces upon the walls of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican are beyond beautiful and inspiring.
The word Renaissance means “Rebirth”. His story in the video below is not only his search for meaning in life, but about his ability as a sculptor to make stone into an almost breathing piece of life. His life as a sculptor and artist, after hundreds of years, should be an inspiration to all of us to protect the monuments in stone that speak of history, faith, and of artistic beauty… that if lost…can not be replaced. Consider…if for no other reason, the hands that chiseled and the sweat that poured to make something wonderful for the world to enjoy is worth protecting and preserving. Perhaps we need a new “rebirth” period in our modern age.
AMEN and AMEN
If you have never seen the marvelous art and architecture of the Sistine Chapel or St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, this is your opportunity along with beautiful music for this Sunday morning. May you blessed by Michelangelo’s beautiful paintings and the sculpture of Masters.
Art and music for your Sunday listening.