The Ambrosiana’s Raphael went on public show once again on 27 March 2019. After four intense years, the restoration of the Preliminary Cartoon of Raphael’s The School of Athens, kept in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan, is complete.
The restoration project and new hall design are the focus of an exhibition entitled Il Raffaello dell’Ambrosiana. In Principio il Cartone, an initiative aimed at highlighting the work and Gallery’s presence on an “ideal” Milan Renaissance tour. Indeed, within an area of just a few square kilometres, you can visit Leonardo’s The Last Supper (Santa Maria delle Grazie), Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietà (Castello Sforzesco) and, as stated, the restored Cartoon for The School of Athens.
The Ambrosiana’s Raphael is the largest surviving Renaissance cartoon (285 x 804 cm) and was entirely executed by the artist from Urbino as a life-size preliminary drawing for The School of Athens, one of four frescoes Pope Julius II commissioned to Raphael in 1508 to decorate the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican. Although the work is known as The School of Athens, its proper title is actually Philosophy and the four walls of the Stanza della Segnatura feature a complex iconographic programme centred on Philosophy (The School of Athens), Theology (The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament), Law (The Cardinal Virtues) and Poetry (The Parnassus).
The Ambrosiana’s Cartoon has survived in its entirety as it was not used to transfer Raphael’s drawing onto the wall but to show the Pope the overall impact of the work, once completed. The masterpiece, divided into “duoi pezzi di disegno di Raphaele d’Urbino in cartone”, arrived in the Ambrosiana in 1610, on loan from Count Fabio II Visconti of Brebbia, before being sold by his widow Bianca Spinola Borromeo in 1626 for the exorbitant sum of 600 Imperial lire.
In 2014, the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, via the Fondazione Cardinale Federico Borromeo, embarked on a long and painstaking work of investigation, conservation and restoration of the Cartoon, coordinated by a prestigious Scientific Committee directed by Maurizio Michelozzi. Now come to completion, a new display case has been designed and constructed to hold the work, with an imposing pane of protective glass approximately 24 m² conceived to respect the delicate conservational constraints while, at the same time, allowing unimpeded viewing of the cartoon. The exhibition room, entirely given over to Raphael’s Cartoon, has been redesigned by Stefano Boeri and illustrates the restoration and history of the masterpiece. The Fondazione Fiera Milano, the official partner of the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana for 2018-2019, is supporting the promotion of Raphael’s Cartoon as too the focus on the Institution’s Leonardo heritage for the 5th centenary of the Florentine genius’ death. The restoration work was sponsored entirely by RaMo SpA, at the initiative of its founder Giuseppe Rabolini.
The Pinacoteca is also opening its rich collections (which lend themselves to versatile exploration routes) to the city with guided tours and educational activities for schools, families and adults, plus new audio guides.
The Cartoon exhibition is accompanied by an Italian/English publication (published by Electa) featuring texts by Alberto Rocca, Director of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.
For further info please go to the website.
from March 27, 2019
Piazza Pio XI, 2
Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-6 pm
Concessions: 13.00 – 10.00 – 8.00
For info visit the website