In the fantastic collection of the Duke of Aumale, bequeathed in 1886 to the Institut de France with the Chantilly estate, Raphaël has always held first place. Like many amateurs in the XIXe century, Henri of Orleans placed the “Lovely Sanzio” at the top, going to salute his works on each of his trips to Italy or Munich.
He bought three of his paintings: The three Graces, in his eyes a “Exquisite jewel”, La Madone said from the house of Orleans who had belonged to his ancestor, Philippe Égalité and Madonna of Loreto then considered a copy. Coup de théâtre in 1979: a restoration of this suave Virgin stretching a veil, which foreshadows the shroud, above the Child Jesus, revealed a number linked to the collection of Cardinal Scipio Borghese. Our Lady was an authentic Raphael…
The Duke of Aumale also had a happy hand in acquiring the collection of 380 drawings by Frédéric Reiset, curator at the Louvre. Among them, seven or eight are from Raphaël and around thirty of his pupils, all shown at Chantilly for the 500e anniversary of the master’s death.
The blog of Crouching Scribe, offers on the internet a filmed tour of the exhibition, commented by its curator Mathieu Deldicque. It begins under the serene auspices of Perugino and Pinturicchio which influence the young Sanzio in Umbria. As proof, his Joust of children, recently dated thanks to its watermark. After 1505 in Florence, Raphaël was inspired by the nudes of Michelangelo, but also by Madonnas by Leonardo, as for La Belle Jardinière of which Chantilly has a drawing.
This compulsive cartoonist first outlines his jumbled ideas. Like these two pink leaves, loaned by the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, where the Christ of Madonna of Loreto, twirls in different postures. Then comes the harmony between the figures, the distribution of light, as in this superb study of twenty characters for The Dispute of the Holy Sacrament, first order in 1508 from Pope Julius II. Another gem: a Table porter à la sanguine, intended for the fresco of The Borgo Fire at the Vatican, partly painted by Raphael’s pupils.
The most famous – Giulio Romano, Polidoro da Caravaggio and Perino del Vaga – are in the spotlight at the end. Their grotesques take up the fashion launched by their master in the Vatican Lodges, itself inspired by the decorations of the Domus Aurea of Nero. Yet among these disciples, the elongation and proliferation of figures already heralds the new page of mannerism, which will turn its back on the grace of Raphael.