Sunday, July 18, 2010

Raphael Tapestries in London for Pope's Visit

From TheTapestryHouse:

Only seven of the ten original Cartoons, produced by Raphael, for the Sistine Chapel Tapestries, survive today. The Raphael Tapestries, as they have since become known, were created during the High Renaissance, and were commissioned, around 1515, by Pope Leo X. It is believed that the Raphael Tapestries were completed one year later, towards the end of 1516. This is because a final payment was recorded, made to Raphael, on December 20th, of that year. The Raphael Tapestries were first displayed in the Sistine Chapel, during the Christmas celebrations of 1519. It should be remembered, even though Raphael had completed the Cartoons for the Tapestries, they still had to be woven!

Today, the only surviving, drawn to scale, full size Cartoons, of the Raphael Tapestries, are on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, situated in London, England. The Raphael Tapestries were only hung, in the Sistine Chapel, during important ceremonies. However, they were pillaged, just over ten years later, during the ‘Sack of Rome’, which occurred on May 6th, 1527. It is believed that the original Raphael Tapestries were burned, to retrieve the precious metals, usually woven into Tapestries of this caliber. Or, the Tapestries were cut into pieces and dispersed around Europe. There is a great possibility that both are true. It was customary, during these times, for the Victor to confiscate the Tapestries of the defeated party, and cut them down.

The Raphael Tapestries depicted scenes from the Gospels. Specifically, the Life of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, as described in the Acts of the Apostles. Four, of the ten original, Raphael Tapestries were dedicated to the Life of Saint Peter. The four Tapestries were, “The Death of Ananias”, “The Miraculous Draught of Fishes”, “The Handing Over of the Keys” and “The Healing of the Lame Man”. The six remaining Raphael Tapestries were dedicated to the life of Saint Paul; “The Conversion of Saint Paul”, “Saint Paul in Prison”, “Saint Paul Preaching in Athens”, “The Blinding of Elymas, the Sorcerer”, “The Sacrifices in Lystra” and “The Stoning of Saint Peter”.

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