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RESTORATION OF RAPHAEL TAPESTRY OF ANANIA WITH TWO SIDE TAPESTRIES OF
Artwork: Raphael Tapestry of Anania
Artist: Raphael, Peter Van Aelst Manifactury
Date: Early XVI century
Dimensions: 488 x 681 cm
Materials: Wool, silk
The last Raphael tapestry in the Vatican Museums that needs restoration is the Death of Anania. It arrived in Rome before the end of 1521. In December of the same year, this precious and valuable work was pawned, with the others from the same series, to a German banker named John Welser to pay off the large debts that Pope Leo X accumulated during his pontificate. The tapestry depicts the passage of the Acts of the Apostles that narrates the death of Anania. The neophytes punished Anania for disregarding their communal attitude because he kept part of the proceeds that he received from the selling of his possessions. Punished for his actions by Peter, Anania lays on the ground in agony surrounded by terrified and stupefied men and women. In the heroic, classic, and large composition, Raphael wisely mixes references to ancient and modern art. The protagonist standing on the stage refers, in fact, to the later antique relief of the Horatio Agustus of the Arch of Constantine. Also, Anania lying on the ground resembles the ancient statue of the dying Gaul. The pose of the woman with the arms raised on the right is a character of the Punishment of Aman from Michelangelo’s vault. Raphael’s imitation is in an antique and modern manner that creates a new style. The tapestry is part of the celebrated series of the Acts of the Apostles commissioned by Pope Leo X to Raphael for the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel. Raphael’s brilliant work and flair brought absolute novelty to classicism and the art of tapestry. It set a new path for European art and launched a golden period of papal commissions in the Flemish lands.
Artwork: Two Side Tapestries of Clement VII
Dimensions: 490 x 70 cm and 477 x 60 cm
Materials: Wool, silk, gilded silver
Clement VII continued the patronage of Leo X. Both were commissioners of a “wave” of textile products linked to the name of Raphael Sanzio. An incredible innovator in the recovery of the antique and the creation of modern models, Sanzio started a real revolution in tapestries. They were the ideation of Italian design and Flemish production. The two borders or columns are part of this ensemble. They have been recorded in the ancient papal inventories as “columns’’ with sphinxes and satyrs from Raphael’s splendid and refined design. It is evident that the friezes were from the cultural climate of Raphael. At the time, the world was fascinated by ancient Rome and the recently discovered grotesques in the Domus, the luxurious residence of Emperor Nero. Raphael visited them with his disciple Giovanni da Udine. Vasari recounts the enthusiasm of the two artists in front of the amazing paintings of the Domus, and they began to copy them. We know that in the workshop of Raphael circulated drawings, now dispersed, of the rooms of Nero’s Domus. The sketches were once part of a precious collection of antiquarian graphic material conserved in the workshop of the Master. They served as a source of inspiration to Raphael and the anonymous author of these cartoons where elements are clearly drawn from the Domus Aurea on the two borders. The refined decorative repertoire is made of small fanciful figurines of spirals and the Medici coat of arms. They closely echo that extraordinary visual imagery already used by Raphael in other works, that can be found in the Vatican and the Vatican Loggias.
The International Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums wish to thank KAYO NISHIMOTO, GALILEO FOUNDATION and OLESSIA KANTOR for supporting the Restoration of this Tapestry and side Tapestries.