Raphael and the Divine Harmony

A Window on the Renaissance

A presentation by Marco BONA CASTELLOTTI, Professor of Modern Art History at the Catholic University of Milan,
and Jane MILOSCH, Senior Program Officer for Art, Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture - Smithsonian Institution

Presented by Crossroads Cultural Center
Co-sponsored by The John Paul II Cultural Center

The presentation focuses mainly on the stupendous Raphael masterpieces conserved in the National Gallery, beginning with the Madonna d'Alba, painted in Rome in 1511 and restored in 2003, a restoration that has revealed its exceptional quality.

The problem of Raphael should be seen in light of the great cultural themes, which are often elusive since the first contact with his work is somewhat too immediate. Usually one does not dwell on questioning what his work implies, where the ideal of the classic beauty of this particular moment of the Renaissance comes from, if this ideal of beauty can be intended not only in a conceptual and abstract sense, but if it corresponds to the Aristotelian principle of the imitation of nature. Raphael creates images that are capable, through sense perception, of entering into a dialogue with the public, although they are conceived also in light of an "idea."

It is worth the trouble to ask ourselves if, through his extraordinary manner of simplifying the image, Raphael, who was not a philosopher but rather simply a painter, was aware of establishing the greatest figurative bulwark that had ever been conceived against the crisis of sacred figurative painting, a crisis that was about to explode in coincidence with the Protestant schism. Raphael's greatness is also the greatness of the moment in which he worked, as well as the greatness of Rome itself in that period. We are in the most "classical" moment of the Renaissance, a season that was brief but extraordinarily fruitful and unrepeatable, of which he is its absolute protagonist, greater still than Michelangelo and any other Italian artist, because in Raphael the ideal of beauty and harmony takes on a consistency that will become law in the centuries to come. It is an ideal—albeit absolutely "natural"— beauty, a perfect amalgamation of the beautiful and the true.


About this Event

Date: Friday, February 6, 2009
Time: 8pm
Location: The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center
3900 Harewood Rd., NE, Washington, DC 20017 Metro: Red Line - Brookland/CUA Station

About the Speakers

Marco Bona Castellotti
Professor of Modern Art History at the Catholic University of Milan, Italy.

Jane Milosch
Senior Program Officer for Art Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture Smithsonian Institution



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