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Rome, Pinacoteca Vaticana

Ten tapestries with scenes from the lives of the apostles Peter (four scenes) and Paul (six scenes).

PROVENANCE: Sistine Chapel, Rome.


(a) The Miraculous Draught of Fishes (Luke V, 1-10)    Plates 171, 172

Width (without side-border): 440 cm.
Lower border: Giovanni de’ Medici’s Entry into Rome (1513) and Homage paid to Leo X.
Side-border (right): originally, the Four Elements; now the Seasons (originally woven to form the left border).
Position: on the right of the altar wall.
Cartoon: London, Victoria and Albert Museum.

On the use of early Christian models for this scene, see Stridbeck II, p. 53 ff. The two men drawing in nets in the second boat were inspired by Michelangelo’s ‘Cascina’ cartoon.
A drawing in Vienna, Albertina (Cat. Stix-Fröhlich III, No. 85), by Giulio Romano (Hartt 1958, I, No. 3), shows on the recto some of the disciples in the left foreground, followed by a group of women on the shore, while the main action, the draught of fishes, appears on a smaller scale in the background and also on the verso. The sheet cannot have served as a modello for the cartoon, as Hartt assumes; this is shown by the emphasis placed on the subsidiary scenery on the recto and by the pentimenti in the sketch on the verso, which are based on a model by Raphael. The latter features were first pointed out by Shearman (1959, p. 457), who described the drawings as ‘scherzi’ by Giulio Romano, and additional arguments against the suggestion that the recto was a modello have been adduced by Oberhuber (Wiener Jb. XXII, 1962, p. 29). Freedberg attributed the recto to Penni (p. 274), but comparison with the compositional study of the main scene (Windsor; Popham-Wilde Cat., No. 808, as Perino del Vaga) shows that this theory is untenable; the latter sheet is by Penni (Pouncey-Gere Cat., London, under No. 68: by Penni; similarly, Oberhuber, op. cit., p. 32 and Fig. 26) and was the modello for the cartoon.

Passavant II, pp. 236 f., 253; Müntz 1882, p. 486 f.; Cr.-Cav. II, p. 219 ff.; Dollmayr 1895, p. 260; Gronau 1923, pp. 142, 143; Oppé 1944, p. 88; Wölfflin 1947, p. 91 f.; Hetzer 1947, pp. 51, 55; Wölfflin 1948, p. 122 ff.; Fischel 1948, I, pp. 259 f., 365; Pope-Hennessy, Plates 1, 12-15; Camesasca 1956, I, Plates 152, 154A; White-Shearman 1958, pp. 205 f., 307 f., 318; Schöne 1958, p. 26; Freedberg, pp. 277, 282, 283; Fischel 1962, p. 193 f.; Brizio 1963, col. 239; Dussler 1966, p. 111.

(b) Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter (John XXI, 1-17; Matthew XVI, 16 ff.).    Plates 173, 174

Width (without side border): 560 cm.
Lower border: The sack of the Medici Palace and the flight of Giovanni de’ Medici disguised as a monk (1494).
Right side border: The Fates.
Position: first tapestry on the right wall.
Cartoon: London, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Stridbeck (II, p. 60 ff.) has shown that this scene is based not only on the Gospel of St. John, but also on Matthew XVI, 15 ff., and this explains the double gesture with which Christ confers both the power of the keys and the office of chief shepherd.
This conferring of double authority on St. Peter is not found in Perugino’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel nor in Pollaiuolo’s ciborium relief for Sixtus IV, formerly in old St. Peter’s, where the grouping of apostles will hardly have remained unnoticed by Raphael. But it is known from Early Christian art and from Roman inscriptions (in the vestibule of old St. Peter’s, second half of the fifth century); and a miniature in the ‘Prayers and Meditations of St. Anselm’ (twelfth-century English, in the Verdun library; Stridbeck, Fig. 28) shows the survival of the older tradition. Raphael was also decisively influenced by Donatello’s relief of the Ascension and the Donation of the Keys to St. Peter (London, Victoria and Albert Museum).
The modello for the overall composition, in Paris, Louvre, No. 3863, is attributed by Hartt (1958, I, No. 2) to Giulio Romano and by Freedberg (p. 274) to Penni, but as Shearman has pointed out (1959, p. 457), the drawing is of such high quality that it should rather be credited to Raphael himself (an opinion supported by Oberhuber, Wiener Jb. XXII, 1962, p. 29 f. and Fig. 25). Similarly, the fragment of an offset composition in Windsor (Popham-Wilde Cat., No. 802), which Hartt regards (1958, I, No. 1a) as a work by Giulio Romano with subsequent corrections by Raphael, is also by the master, as is the single study for Christ in Paris, Louvre, No. 3854, which Hartt claims (I, No. 1) for Giulio Romano. Shearman, Freedberg and Oberhuber all agree that both these drawings are autograph, while Fischel supported the authenticity of the latter study.

Passavant II, pp. 238 ff., 253; Müntz 1882, p. 486 f.; Cr.-Cav. II, p. 230 ff.; Dollmayr 1895, pp. 255, 257 f., 260; Gronau 1923, pp. 136, 137; Oppé 1944, p. 85 f.; Hetzer 1947, pp. 51, 55; Wölfflin 1947, p. 92 f.; Wölfflin 1948, p. 124 f.; Fischel 1948, I, pp. 257 ff., 365; Pope-Hennessy, Plates 2, 16, 17; Camesasca 1956, I, Plates 153, 154B; White-Shearman 1958,


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p. 308 ff.; Schöne 1958, p. 26; Freedberg, p. 273 ff.; Fischel 1962, p. 190 ff.; Brizio 1963, col. 239; Dussler 1966, pp. 111-12.

(c) The Healing of the Lame Man (Acts III, 1-7)    Plates 175, 176

Width (without side border): 566 cm.
Lower border: Giovanni de’ Medici’s journey to the north (1499 and 1500); the two lions flanking laurel branches with the Medici arms; the battle of Ravenna (1512).
Right pilaster border: originally the four Seasons, now the four Elements.
Position: second tapestry on the right wall.
Cartoon: London, Victoria and Albert Museum.

An earlier representation of the healing of the cripple is found in Pollaiuolo’s ciborium relief for Sixtus IV, which was formerly in old St. Peter’s. The motif of Peter holding the lame man’s hand at the wrist is anticipated in this work, but the gesture of blessing on the part of the miracle-worker is missing. Stridbeck (II, p. 67) traces the latter motif back to the influence of early Christian examples.

Passavant II, pp. 241 f., 254; Müntz 1882, p. 488 f.; Cr.-Cav. II, p. 235 ff.; Gronau 1923, pp. 138, 139; Oppé 1944, p. 86 f.; Wölfflin 1947, p. 93 f.; Wölfflin, 1948, p. 125 f.; Fischel 1948, I, pp. 192, 263 f., 365; Pope-Hennessy, Plates 3, 18-21; Camesasca 1956, I, Plates 155A, B; White-Shearman 1958, p. 310 ff.; Schöne 1958, p. 26 f.; Freedberg, p. 277 f.; Fischel 1962, p. 196 f.; Dussler 1966, p. 112.

(d) The Death of Ananias (Acts V, 3-5)    Plates 177, 178

Width (without side border): 563 cm.
Lower border: Gonfaloniere Soderini’s address to the Florentines; two lions, seated, supporting a yoke; on either side are herms with laurel garlands; Giovanni de’ Medici’s entry into Florence (1512).
Right pilaster border: originally the four seasons, but these are now replaced by the Theological Virtues.
Position: third tapestry on the right wall.
Cartoon: London, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Of the connections with the early Christian tradition mentioned by Stridbeck (II, p. 67 f.), his reference to judgement scenes is certainly relevant. In the relief of the Judgement of Solomon on the silver casket in San Nazaro, Milan (Stridbeck, Fig. 40), the dramatic representation foreshadows the punishment of Ananias.

Passavant II, pp. 242 ff., 254; Müntz 1882, p. 489; Cr.-Cav. II, p. 238 f.; Dollmayr 1895, p. 258; Gronau 1923, pp. 140, 141; Oppé 1944, p. 87 f.; Hetzer 1947, p. 51; Wölfflin 1947, p. 94; Wölfflin, 1948, p. 126 ff.; Fischel 1948, I, pp. 197, 261 f., 365; Pope-Hennessy, Plates 4, 22, 23; Camesasca 1956, I, Plates 157A, B; White-Shearman 1958, p. 312 ff.; Schöne 1958, p. 27; Freedberg, p. 273 ff.; Fischel 1962, p. 195 f.; Brizio 1963, col. 239; Dussler 1966, p. 112.


(a) The Stoning of St. Stephen (Acts VII, 55-9)    Plate 179

Width (without side border): 398 cm.
Lower borders: the entry of Giovanni de’ Medici into Florence as papal legate (1492).
Left pilaster border: the trivium.
Position: on the left side of the altar.
Cartoon: lost.

This tapestry is 40 cm. shorter in height and in depth than its counterpart on the right side of the altar, the Miraculous Draught of Fishes. It is incomplete on the left; the original composition is shown in the version in the Mantua series (White-Shearman, Fig. 17). The representation of God the Father with Christ in the heavenly region can hardly be faithful to the cartoon and clearly shows the shortcomings of the tapestry-weaver (see White-Shearman, p. 315).
Stridbeck suggests (II, p. 70) that this composition was probably inspired by Cavallini’s former mural in S. Paolo fuori le mura (Fig. 44), but this theory is not convincing.
There is a drawing for the composition in Vienna, Albertina (Cat. Stix-Fröhlich III, No. 76), which Dollmayr ascribed to Penni (1895, p. 261 f.). Oberhuber (Wiener Jb. XXII, 1962, p. 29 and Fig. 24) considers this an early original sketch by Raphael, and Shearman has now (orally) stated his agreement with this view, although he formerly declared it to be a workshop product (1958, p. 315, Note 58). Filippini’s assumption (1928-9, p. 317 f.) that the cartoon was not executed until after Raphael’s death, and was possibly undertaken jointly by Giulio Romano and Vincidor seems to be without justification; the tapestry was among those exhibited in the Sistine Chapel on 27 December 1519 (Golzio, p. 104).

Passavant II, p. 240 f.; Müntz 1882, p. 489; Cr.-Cav. II, p. 234 f.; Dollmayr 1895, p. 261 ff.; Gronau 1923, p. 150; Oppé 1944, p. 88; Fischel 1948, I, pp. 264 f., 266; Camesasca 1956, I, Plate 160A; White-Shearman 1958, pp. 200, 314 f.; Schöne 1958, p. 27; Freedberg, p. 273 ff.; Fischel 1962, p. 198; Dussler 1966, p. 112.

(b) The Conversion of St. Paul (Acts IX, 3-7)    Plate 180

Width (without side border): 557 cm.
Lower border: Saul persecuting of the Christians (Acts VIII, 1, 3).
Left pilaster border: the quadrivium.
In 1528 this tapestry was in the collection of Zuanantonio Venier in Venice (M. A. Michiel, ed. Frizzoni, p. 185). White and Shearman assume that it was among the works given to Julius III by Connétable Anne de Montmorency in 1553.
Position: the first tapestry on the left wall.

The cartoon for this work is mentioned by M. A. Michiel (Golzio, p. 172), but no longer exists. In 1521 it was in the possession of Cardinal Domenico Grimani in Venice and it is listed in 1526 in the inventory of his heir Marino


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Grimani (Paschini, Rend. Pont. Acc. V, 1928, p. 182). The present tapestry is 35 cm. narrower than the original version, which is reproduced in the Mantua example (White-Shearman, Fig. 18). There the figure of the groom who restrains the bolting horse with an upwards swing of his left hand is seen in its entirety. For the subject matter compare this work with the fresco by Signorelli in Loreto, Basilica di Santa Casa, Sagrestia della Cura, which was well known to Raphael from early days. He may also have been acquainted with Leonardo’s sketches for the Battle of Anghiari. The question of how far the work was influenced by classical models (the Alexander mosaic) is discussed by W. Pinder, Antike Kampfmotive in neurer Kunst (Münchener Jahrhuch d. bild. Kst., N.F. V, 1928, p. 371). In Chatsworth there is a study in red chalk showing the two horsemen (the horse is only shown in outline) and the figure rushing forwards with a lance. By comparison with the tapestry the composition is reversed (Fischel 1898, No. 352: by Penni). Crowe and Cavalcaselle (II, p. 225 f.) considered this drawing a Raphael original, and declared the version in Haarlem, Teyler Museum, to be a copy. In the catalogue Le Dessin italien dans les collections hollandaises 1962, No. 65, however, the latter work is described as authentic and the example in Chatsworth is not mentioned. In my opinion the drawing in the Devonshire Collection (Old Master Drawings from Chatsworth, 1962-3, No. 60 and Fig. 60) is considerably superior to the sheet in Haarlem.

Passavant II, p. 244 f.; Müntz 1882, p. 489; Cr.-Cav. II, p. 224 ff.; Dollmayr 1895, pp. 264, 266; Gronau 1923, p. 144; Oppé 1944, p. 91; Fischel 1948, I, p. 265; Camesasca 1956, I, Plate 160A; White-Shearman 1958, pp. 216, 315 ff.; Schöne 1958, p. 27; Freedberg, p. 273 ff.; Fischel 1962, p. 197 f.; Dussler 1966, p. 113.

(c) The Blinding of the Magician Elymas (Acts XIII, 6-12)    Plates 181, 182

Width (without side border): 579 cm.
Left pilaster border: originally the four Cardinal Virtues, here replaced by representations of the four Times of the Day.
Position: second tapestry on the left wall.
Cartoon: London, Victoria and Albert Museum. The niche ornament visible beside Paul in the tapestry is missing in the cartoon.

This scene was not included in Cavallini’s former cycle in San Paolo fuori le mura, but Stridbeck is hardly mistaken in supposing (II, p. 70) that the work was inspired by another episode (of which no closer description can be given than that it represented Paul before the judge; Fig. 46).
Only the upper half of the tapestry remains in this example; the rest was destroyed in the Sack of Rome in 1527. The complete version can be seen in the example in Mantua (White-Shearman, Fig. 2). The original modello for the entire composition (in Windsor; Popham-Wilde Cat., No. 803) is ascribed by Hartt (1958, I, No. 5) to Giulio Romano - an opinion which the present author considers incorrect. The engraving by A. Veneziano (B. XIV, No. 48), dated 1516, is probably based on a drawing related to that in Windsor.

Passavant II, pp. 245 f., 254 f.; Müntz 1882, p. 489 f.; Cr.-Cav. II, p. 241 f.; Dollmayr 1895, p. 258; Gronau 1923, p. 145 (Cartoon); Hetzer 1932, p. 61, Note 12; Oppé 1944, p. 91; Wölfflin 1947, p. 95 f.; Wölfflin 1948, p. 128; Fischel 1948, I, p. 266 ff.; Pope-Hennessy, Plates 5, 24; Camesasca 1956, I, Plates 156A, B (Mantua version); White-Shearman 1958, p. 317 f.; Schöne 1958, p. 27; Freedberg, p. 273 ff.; Fischel 1962, p. 199 f.; Dussler 1966, p. 113.

(d) The Sacrifice at Lystra (Acts XIV, 8-18)    Plates 183, 184

Width (without side border): 572 cm.
Lower border: The apostles in Antioch, and Paul with Silas (Acts XV, 22 ff.). Paul expounding the sacred writings in the synagogue (Acts XIII, 13-16); between the two scenes are a pair of lions with the ring and feathers of the Medici, between two herm pilasters and a pair of yokes.
Left pilaster border: originally, the Theological Virtues; these have now been replaced by the three Cardinal Virtues.
Position: third tapestry on the left wall.
Cartoon: London, Victoria and Albert Museum.

The scene depicting a miraculous healing in Cavallini’s cycle is suggested by Stridbeck (II, p. 70 f. and Fig. 48) as a possible source of inspiration for a Lystra tapestry, but this shows no definite points for comparison apart from the elaborate architectural background. The scene on the right showing the sacrifice (Fig. 49 in Stridbeck) is comparable with the antique relief on the cup from Boscoreale (although it should not be overlooked that other classical works provided Raphael with a very large number of possible models). Cavalcaselle was an early scholar who drew attention to a number of such exemplars (p. 243 f.).
The original silverpoint drawing showing Paul in the same direction as the cartoon is in Chatsworth (Old Master Drawings from Chatsworth, 1962-3, No. 58 with Fig. 58).

Passavant II, pp. 246 ff., 255; Müntz 1882, p. 490 ff.; Cr.-Cav. II, p. 243 ff.; Dollmayr 1895, p. 258; Gronau 1923, pp. 146, 147; Oppé 1944, p. 90 f.; Wölfflin 1947, p. 96; Wölfflin 1948, p. 128 f.; Fischel 1948, I, pp. 268 ff., 365; Pope-Hennessy, Plates 6, 25-7; Camesasca 1956, I, Plates 158A, B; White-Shearman 1958, p. 318 ff.; Freedberg, p. 273 ff.; Fischel 1962, p. 200 ff.; Dussler 1966, pp. 113-14.

(e) St. Paul in Prison (Acts XVI, 23-6)    Plate 187

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Lower border: Paul’s vision summoning him to Macedonia (Acts XVI, 9).
Position: a narrow strip on the left wall next to the screen (after the ‘Sacrifice at Lystra’).
Cartoon: lost.

Cavalcaselle ascribed the invention and execution of the composition to Giulio Romano, as does Camesasca, who is clearly thinking of the latter’s subsequent work in the Sala dei Giganti (Palazzo del Tè, Mantua) when he suggests that the figure of the earth-giant represents a conception foreign to Raphael’s spirit. In my opinion, there is no doubt that the concetto was in fact by Raphael. But I believe that the single study of the earth-demon mentioned by Fischel is a copy.
This sketch - formerly in the Grahl Collection, Düsseldorf - shows the figure in the same direction as the tapestry, but even Fischel himself has expressed doubts about it. There is another study for this figure in New York, J. Scholz Collection (Hamburg Exhibition 1963; Cat. No. 128, Fig. 24), a silverpoint drawing whose quality is such that it should be regarded as a Raphael original.
Cavalcaselle and E. Loewy (Archivio stor. dell’Arte 1896, II, p. 241 ff.) established at an early date that the figure-motif derives from the antique type of Uranus. Raphael was very probably acquainted with the relief fragment of the ‘Judgement of Paris’ in the Villa Medici, Rome (de Azevedo, Villa Medici 1951, No. 54); he cannot have taken the Bassus sarcophagus in Rome as his model, for this was not discovered until 1595. The figure also appears as a thematic element beneath Jupiter’s throne in Marc Antonio’s engraving of the ‘Judgement of Paris’, which is based on a Raphael model. - The extent to which the master’s primary sketch was transformed by the hand of Giulio Romano can be seen from the fragmentary cartoon for the earth-demon in the Earl of Wemyss Collection, Gosford House (published in G. Kauffmann, Fig. 5). This ‘modello’ (width: 117 cm.) already contains all the features of the tapestry, even including the shattering of the frame by the left hand.

Passavant II, p. 250; Müntz 1882, p. 492; Cr.-Cav. II, 249 f.; Dollmayr 1895, p. 266; Gronau 1923, p. 150; Oppé 1944, p. 90; Fischel 1948, I, p. 266; Camesasca 1956, I, p. 92; White-Shearman 1958, p. 320; Schöne 1958, p. 27; Freedberg, p. 273 ff.; Fischel 1962, p. 198 f.; Georg Kauffmann 1964, p. 123 ff.; Dussler 1966, p. 114.

(f) St. Paul Preaching in Athens (Acts XVII, 16-34)    Plates 185, 186

Width (without side border): 465 cm.
Lower border: Paul as a carpet-weaver; Paul being mocked by the Jews in Corinth; the conversion of the Corinthians; Paul in court before Gallio (Acts XVIII, 1-3; 5-6; 12-16).
Left pilaster border: Hercules with the vault of heaven.
Position: outside the choir screen on the left wall.
Cartoon: London, Victoria and Albert Museum.

In 1528 this tapestry was in the collection of the Venetian Zuanantonio Venier (M. A. Michiel, ed. Frizzoni, p. 185); it was returned to the Vatican by Connétable Anne de Montmorency in 1553. To commemorate this event the latter’s coat of arms was added on the partially new (left) border, and the following inscription underneath: Urbe capta partem aulaeorum a praedonib. distractorum conquisitam Annae Mommorancius Gallicae Militiae praef. resarciendam atq. Julio III P.M. restituendam curavit. The lower border, like that at the side, is to be dated from about 1550. White and Shearman (p. 218) point out a fundamental difference from the composition of the other dado-borders and leave the question of whether these four scenes are still connected with the original version. The present author considers that their invention is quite unrelated to the work as it was originally conceived, for the series of pictures is clearly divided up into sections (thus greatly weakening its frieze-like aspect), while the artificial impression of depth and the different proportions of the figures both betray a character very unlike that of the Roman workshop. The design of this border is probably due to a French or Flemish artist.
Depictions of this scene are rare, but there is an example in Cavallini’s frescoes in San Paolo fuori le mura (Stridbeck, p. 71 f. and Fig. 54). There a flight of steps leads up to the podium, on which the apostle stands preaching. He occupies the centre of the picture, and his audience is grouped around him in a wide curve to either side. The Areopagus is surrounded by a great variety of architectural forms, among them, on the left, a round temple with a cupola. Raphael did not adopt the centralized arrangement of Cavallini’s mural, but modelled his design on a classical relief, in which the Emperor, accompanied by his retinue, speaks to the people from a raised podium on the left (see Stridbeck, Fig. 55). Stridbeck compares the apostle’s towering figure and orator’s gesture in the tapestry with the figure of St. Paul in the thirteenth-century fresco on the triumphal arch in San Paolo fuori le mura, where the preaching apostle is depicted in the Orans position derived from early Christian art (Stridbeck, Fig. 53). P. Künzle has shown (1964) that the stout man with a squint, immediately behind St. Paul, is a portrait of Raphael’s friend Tommaso Inghirami, the Librarian of the Vatican.
The overall composition, in the same direction as in the cartoon, is preserved in the sketch design in Florence, Uffizi, No. 1217E, which I consider the work of Penni (Freedberg II, Fig. 354). Another sketch in Florence, Uffizi, No. 540E (Fischel 1898, No. 255: school of Andrea del Sarto), which has attracted little attention and which shows Paul preaching with five listeners, has recently been pronounced an original Raphael study by Oberhuber (Wiener Jb. XXII, 1962, p. 62 and Fig. 56); if it is not by Raphael, it is certainly based on a modello by him. A modello by Giulio Romano, in Paris, Louvre, is No. 3884 (Hartt I, No. 4).


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Passavant II, pp. 248 ff., 255; Müntz 1882, p. 492 ff.; Cr.-Cav. II, p. 246 f.; Dollmayr 1895, p. 259; Gronau 1923, pp. 148, 149; Oppé 1944, p. 90; Wölfflin 1947, p. 95; Wölfflin 1948, p. 129; Fischel 1948, I, p. 271 f.; Pope-Hennessy, Plates 7, 28-30; Camesasca 1956, I, Plates 159A, B; White-Shearman 1958, pp. 207 f., 320 f., 322; Schöne 1958, p. 27; Freedberg, p. 273 ff.; Fischel 1962, p. 202 f.; Brizio 1963, col. 239; Dussler 1966, pp. 114-15.

This series of tapestries was intended to decorate the Sistine Chapel, and Raphael probably received the commission from Leo X in 1513-14; he received his first payment on 16 June 1515 (Golzio, p. 38) for supplying the cartoons (see below), and the balance on 20 December 1516 (Golzio, p. 51). We can thus assume that work on the cartoons started no later than the beginning of the year 1515. The designs were sent to Pieter van Aelst’s tapestry workshop in Brussels, and the Delivery of the Keys was finished at the end of July 1517 (Golzio, p. 370 f.); on 18 June 1518 the Fleming P. Loroi, received a remittance of 1000 ducats for unspecified tapestries (Golzio, p. 70). In July 1519, the Venetian ambassador reported the arrival of three tapestries for the Pope (Golzio, p. 101) and on 26 December 1519, seven of the tapestries hung on the walls of the Sistine Chapel when the Pope celebrated Mass (diary of Paris de Grassis, Golzio, p. 103). According to the description given by M. A. Michiel on 27 December 1519 (Golzio, p. 103 f.) these were: The Miraculous Draught of Fishes - Christ giving the Keys to St. Peter - The Healing of the Lame Man - The Martyrdom of St. Stephen - The Conversion of Paul - The Blinding of Elymas - and The Sacrifice at Lystra. The three remaining tapestries, The Death of Ananias - Paul in Prison - and Paul preaching in Athens, must have been in Rome by 1521, for all ten appear in Leo X’s inventory of 1-17 December 1521 (White-Shearman, p. 196, Note 10). A note in the margin of the inventory indicates that seven of the tapestries were then in pawn. During the Sack of Rome the tapestries were still in the Sistine Chapel during the requiem Mass for the Connétable de Bourbon (Sanuto, Diarii, Vol. XLII, p. 700, XLV, p. 418; Pastor IV/1, p. 502 and Note 2). Shortly afterwards they were looted and sold by the troops of Charles V. Two tapestries (The Conversion of Paul, and Paul preaching in Athens) found their way into the collection of Zuanantonio Venier of Venice (Anon. Morelliano, ed. Frizzoni, p. 185 f.), and a few others were at Lyons in 1530 and were offered to Clement VII for 160 ducats (Gaye, Carteggio II, p. 222). Two letters sent to the Pope in September 1543 (White-Shearman, p. 215 f.) show that the majority of the tapestries were then in the possession of dealers in Naples. In 1544 the Vatican inventory again lists seven which must by then have been repurchased. When Connétable Anne de Montmorency returned two tapestries (The Miraculous Draught of Fishes and Paul preaching in Athens) to Julius III in 1553, the Vatican was once again in possession of the whole series. They were stolen once more in 1798, and were acquired by dealers, first in Genoa and then in Paris; in 1808 they were recovered by the Vatican.
Of the cartoons supplied by Raphael to Van Aelst’s tapestry workshop in Brussels, seven are preserved in London, Victoria and Albert Museum. The other three, for the Martyrdom of St. Stephen, Paul in Prison and the Conversion of Paul, are lost; the last-mentioned was in the collection of Cardinal Grimani in Venice in 1521. Apart from the Conversion of Paul, the cartoons remained in the Brussels workshop; later they appeared in Genoa, where they were bought in 1623 for the Royal Collection by Charles, Prince of Wales. (The assumption that Rubens was an intermediary in the sale is based on the dedication to King George I in Dorigny’s edition of engravings, 1719; but although this source is very late, it seems possible that the great artist was involved in the transaction, even if only in an indirect manner.) The cartoons, which were painted in glue distemper on paper and in places still show the charcoal underdrawing, are no longer in very good condition; already in van Aelst’s workshop they were cut into strips in order to facilitate the weaving and were not reconstituted until 1699, when they were mounted on canvas. As they had become badly worn during the weaving operations, they were subjected to repeated restoration, in which some heads were overpainted and the colouring was changed (e.g. in the ‘Miraculous Draught of Fishes’). Taken as a whole, however, the cartoons give a complete impression of Raphael’s style at the time when he was at the height of his powers. They were recently cleaned with great care and have now been re-hung in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Vasari reports on the extent to which Raphael himself was involved in the execution of the cartoons (ed. Milanesi, IV, p. 369 f. ): ‘Raffaello fece in propria forma e grandezza di tutti, di sua mano i cartoni coloriti’; in a later passage (IV, p. 644), he amplified this by referring to Penni’s participation: ‘fu di grande aiuto a Raffaello a dipignere gran parte de’ cartoni dei panni d’arazzo . . . e particolarmente le fregiature’. Dollmayr, Berenson and Wölfflin interpreted the latter statement to mean that the cartoons were executed by Penni alone, but more recent scholars (Fischel, Pope-Hennessy and Freedberg) rightly emphasize that Raphael himself was responsible for a considerable proportion of the work. His involvement can be seen not only in the general colour scheme, but also in a large number of marvellous heroic heads, in the realistic figures of Ananias and Elymas and of the cripples in the Healing of the Lame Man and also in the beautiful figure of the mother holding an infant in the same cartoon.
However, a considerable part of the work was carried out by Penni and Giulio Romano; that is evident from the large number of figures portrayed, whose detail execution, like that of the architectural elements and the landscape, Raphael left to members of his workshop. Whether Giovanni da Udine was also involved cannot be ascertained. As


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the compositional arrangement is largely determined by the place for which each tapestry was destined, I think it inconceivable that the invention could have lacked the personal directive of Raphael. The frieze scenes depicting Giovanni de’ Medici and those stories of St. Paul for which no cartoons have survived will have been the sole work of Penni. Dollmayr’s and Wickhoff’s attribution to B. Peruzzi is untenable. The ornamental elements of the side borders, on the other hand, suggest that here the Udine artist was employed. Nevertheless it must be assumed that even these elements are based on preparatory work by Raphael, as he must have been responsible for the significant arrangement and harmonizing of the subject matter. Stylistic considerations suggest that the order in which the cartoons were painted does not correspond with the division into cycles by subject-matter. Attempts to provide approximate chronological groupings have been made by both Shearman and Oberhuber. They postulate an earlier group consisting of Christ giving the Keys to Peter, The Death of Ananias and Paul preaching in Athens, and a later group consisting of The Healing of the Lame Man, The Blinding of Elymas, The Sacrifice in Lystra, The Stoning of St. Stephen, The Conversion of Paul and Paul in Prison. Apart from small differences, the two scholars disagree only on the position of the Miraculous Draught of Fishes, which Shearman regards as fairly early, while Oberhuber includes it in the later series. In my opinion, this cartoon can only belong in the early group.


Stridbeck has proved in individual cases that the older tradition (works in old St. Peter’s and in San Paolo fuori le mura, Rome) was not without influence on Raphael’s conception of his project. His two cycles, however, are distinguished by the definite purpose underlying the choice of subjects. A number of episodes have been omitted, among them the scenes of martyrdom, which formed part of nearly all the older works. It is this limitation of the subject-matter that reveals the meaning of the two series, which is no less clear for being presented in a concentrated form. The cycle of St. Peter, the apostle to the Jews, opens with his vocation and continues with his investiture with the power of the keys as Christ’s Vicar on earth; the divine nature of his mission is demonstrated in the miraculous healing of the lame man in Jerusalem (the Temple), and in conclusion he is shown exercising the other office granted to him, that of a judge (the punishment of Ananias). These scenes unmistakably manifest the primacy of the Pope, his judicial power and the divine grace conferred upon him, and thus they emphasize the legality and validity of the papal office, which had been disputed by a group of heretical cardinals during the reign of Julius II. The cycle thus continues, in its own manner, the same ideas as had been expressed shortly before in the programme of murals for Stanze Nos. 2 and 3 (in some cases, work was still in progress on these frescoes). The cycle of tapestries gains special significance from the fact that it was destined to hang in the Sistine Chapel, the setting of conclaves and the place officially used by the Pope for his sacred functions. This significance is apparent also in the position allotted to the first scene, The Calling of Peter, and to its counterpart on the side devoted to St. Paul, The Stoning of St. Stephen; both these tapestries were nearest the altar, flanking Perugino’s Assumption of the Virgin, which at that time was still situated above it. The altar provides a central starting-point for the sequence of tapestries, which proceeds from left to right on the wall of the Epistle side and from right to left on the wall of the Gospel side. - The series representing the apostle to the Gentiles (‘praedicator gentium’ - Paul’s traditional description), on the left side of the chapel, begins with the above-mentioned Stoning of St. Stephen in the altar section. The full significance of this subject comes from the fact that it comprises two meanings: on the one hand, Saul is here shown as a young man, when he was still an enemy of Christianity; on the other, it shows the first martyr for the new faith proclaiming the renunciation of the world through his sacrifice. The earthly calling of the first apostles, Peter and Andrew, appears on the right as an expression of triumph, and is contrasted with the other-worldly character of the martyrdom of Stephen. The following, dramatic scene - the first on the left wall - the Conversion of Saul, represents the apostle’s divine vocation, as a parallel to Peter’s legal investiture with the authority of the keys, on the right, opposite. And just as the next two tapestries on the right, the Healing of the Lame Man and the Punishment of Ananias, represent St. Peter’s work among the people, so the next two tapestries on the left depict St. Paul’s activities as an apostle. The Blinding of the Magician Elymas on Paphos demonstrates the power of the Christian missionary in the presence of the heathen praetor, and the next scene, the Sacrifice at Lystra, shows the apostle proving their error to the pagan crowd, who had greeted his miraculous healing of a cripple with idolatrous wonder. The final scene within the choir is composed simply as a narrow vertical picture, and has no equivalent on the right wall; it shows Paul’s delivery from his cell, and thus bears witness to the efficacy of the prayers of God’s apostle. The representation of Paul preaching on the Areopagus to the People of Athens is placed beyond the choir screen, and thus extends into the area of the chapel occupied by the laity. The subject of this tapestry, the active propagation of God’s Word, received particular official emphasis during the first decades of the sixteenth century, and is most strikingly portrayed in this apostolic example. It is clear, therefore, that these two cycles embody the theological idea on which the papal Church is based, and there can be no doubt that the subject-matter was selected for its intellectual significance by ecclesiastical advisers, who were playing a decisive role in the contemporary affairs of the Church.
The identity of the ‘spiritus rector’ responsible for the tapestries is not known to us (any more than in the case of the Stanze wall paintings), but it is clear that the ideas they express were at the very centre of contemporary concern.


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Arrangement of the tapestries in the Sistine Chapel. (After John Shearman)

picture - Arrangement of the tapestries in the Sistine Chapel


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This is clear from the work published in 1511 by Cajetan de Vio, the leading Dominican general, Tractatus de comparatione auctontatis papae et concilii, and from his speech to the Lateran Council in May 1512, in which he stresses most strongly the Pope’s position as ‘vicarius Christi’ (see Pastor, Geschichte der Päpste III/2, p. 850). The patron’s specifically Medicean interest appears in the borders framing the main scenes. The friezes below the St. Peter series represent scenes from Leo X’s eventful life, from his cardinalate to his triumphal entry into Rome in 1513. The vertical borders contain depictions of the four elements, the Fates, the seasons of the year and the times of the day - i.e. the blind forces in the world; on the one hand these can be seen as contrasts to the themes of the main tapestries, which proclaim the omnipotence of God; on the other hand they symbolize the character of the Medici pope, a firm believer in Fate (see the brilliant and perceptive explanations given by White and Shearman). In the cycle centred on St. Paul, the frieze scenes draw on the Acts of the Apostles for intermediate episodes from the life of this saint, while the side borders, with their representations of the Liberal Arts and the theological and cardinal Virtues, refer again to Leo X and honour him as a patron of literature and the arts and extol his moral qualities. While the sequence of subjects and the symbolic meaning of the tapestries were decided by a spiritual director who can no longer be identified, the individual scenes and their grouping into a cycle bear witness to a pictorial form which had been calculated to the last detail by Raphael’s creative genius. I cannot begin to examine here the incomparable way in which the artist has found a classical solution to every problem posed by his task: how he adapted the construction of each scene to its particular subject-matter and to its position within the pictorial sequence, how he balanced the decorative effects of each side wall and the varying relationship between each scene and its counterpart opposite, how his sensitive observations took account of the lighting and the resulting appearance of the colours in the tapestries, and finally how carefully he harmonized the two tapestry series with the earlier paintings which decorated the chapel - the Quattrocento frescoes on the upper part of the walls and Michelangelo’s ceiling paintings. These factors have been the subject of such excellent analyses by White and Shearman and by Freedberg that once again I need only refer to the commentaries provided by these scholars.
Goethe wrote about these tapestries while he stayed in Strasbourg as a young man, and how greatly they impressed him can be seen from the mention which they receive in Dichtung und Wahrheit, Book IX (Insel edition 1922, p. 385). His fuller reference to them in the Italienische Reise (Insel edition 1920, p. 373 ff.) is even more enthusiastic. He had seen the series in the Vatican in 1787, on the day of Corpus Christi, and he singled out above all the ‘Punishment of Ananias’:
‘There are very few compositions which could be compared to this; here is a great concept, an action of the highest intrinsic importance, every varied facet of which is depicted in the clearest possible manner.’


(1) Mantua, Palazzo Ducale. Woven by Van Aelst’s workshop in Brussels for Federigo Gonzaga. This series consists of nine tapestries (it does not include Paul in Prison), which are in better condition than the series in the Vatican. In some cases the side borders are the same as in the Vatican, in others the Mantua series preserves the original arrangement for these vertical strips, and therefore, as White and Shearman have shown in their detailed examination (p. 219 ff.), it provides important evidence for a reconstruction of the original version. Instead of the Medici stories, which had no relevance to the patron who commissioned this set, the lower borders of the Mantua tapestries contain decorations of an allegorical nature. - These tapestries were originally in the church of St. Barbara, but were later removed to the Duke’s palace; they were in Vienna from 1866 to 1918, and were brought back to Mantua after the end of the war.

Kumsch, Die Apostelgeschichte, Dresden 1914, p. 11.

(2) Madrid, Royal Palace. Like series No. (1) this originated in the Brussels workshop and also consists of nine tapestries, not including Paul in Prison. The side borders correspond to those in Mantua, while those forming the dado bear ornamental patterns.

Kumsch, p. 11.

(3) Formerly in Berlin, Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum; destroyed by fire during the Second World War. Woven for Henry VIII in Van Aelst’s Brussels workshop; sold in 1649 to Don Luis de Haro, Marquis de Carpio, after the death of Charles I. In 1662 they formed part of the estate left by the Duke of Alba, Madrid, and in 1823 they were in the possession of Tupper, the British consul. In 1844 they were the property of the King of Prussia. Like sets Nos. (1) and (2), these were complete except for Paul in Prison. Garlands of foliage were woven around the edges.

Kumsch, p. 12.

(4) Formerly in Paris, King Francis I. This set also came from the Brussels workshop and consisted of nine tapestries; it is no longer to be found.

Kumsch, p. 13 f.

(5) Many repetitions were woven by the workshop founded in 1619 in Mortlake (Surrey); all of these were based on Cleyn’s copy of the cartoons. One of the best versions woven by this factory was formerly in the possession of Charles I of England, and later belonged to Mazarin; it is now in Paris, Garde-Meuble. For information on the other sets (Dresden; Duke of Buccleuch; Forde Abbey, W. Miles; Chatsworth, and elsewhere) see Kumsch, p. 14 ff. On the series formerly belonging to Cardinal Sforza Pallavicini and now in Loreto, Museo della Santa Casa, see Kumsch, p. 26 f., and also G. Pauri, La serie lauretana degli arazzi di Raffaello, Milan 1926.


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