Largest surviving Renaissance draft installed in Milan gallery.
Raphael’s “cartoon” for his The School of Athens fresco, in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, has been painstakingly restored over four years and is finally on show again in Milan’s Pinacoteca Ambrosiana.
On 6 April, the anniversary of the death of Raphael in 1520, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana will be open to the public free to celebrate this masterpiece of the genius from Urbino, a world cultural heritage.
One of the world’s most famous “cartoons”, or preliminary drawings used to plan the composition of a painting, the 8-metre long work was drafted entirely by Raphael himself on a one-to-one scale. The work dates from the period 1509-1511, after the artist received the commission from Pope Julius II. The fresco itself is considered Raphael’s masterpiece and the perfect embodiment of the spirit of the Renaissance.
Starting in 2014, a long and challenging study of the cartoon led to its conservative restoration, coordinated by a scientific committee and with the collaboration of lecturers from various Italian universities.
Once the restoration was completed, it took a team of 15 restorers and specialised technicians four days to put the delicate artwork in its new setting (pictured), a room created exclusively for the cartoon by 100 workers over a period of months under the guidance of renowned Milan architect Stefano Boeri, who also led the installation operation.
The Pinacoteca Ambrogiana in Piazza Pio XI, close to Milan’s central Piazza Duomo, is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10.00 to 18.00. Although the last entrance is at 17.30, the management recommends planning a minimum of 90 minutes for a visit. The full entry price is €15, but there are several categories of reductions, including under-18s and over-65s.
Photo © Paolo Rosselli