RAPHAEL - The Holy Family with the Lamb of 1504
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Preface

What established Raphael as a Classic throughout the centuries was his synthesis of the most important artistic achievements of the Renaissance. However, his contemporaries also praised his imaginative pictorial inventions which he generously passed on to other painters and imitators. ‘It is said’, writes Vasari in his Vite ‘that if any painter who knew him and even any who did not, asked him for a design which he needed, Raphael would leave hin own work in order to help.’ It is astonishing that Raphael’s pictorial inventiveness was obviously already famous at a time when he was not yet the Classic as whom we know him.
The Holy Family with the Lamb from a private collection, the centre-piece of this studio exhibition, found imitators up to the time of the Nazarenes owing to the unusual treatment of the subject-matter. It had already been imitated immediately after its creation in 1504 before Raphael himself produced a more polished, more Raphaelesque version, which is now in the Prado, Madrid.
I am pleased that Professor Dr. Jürg Meyer zur Capellen, who concerned himself for some time with the small panel of the Holy Family with the Lamb, has brought his scholarship to bear on this project, and that Dr. Jürgen M. Lehmann, the initiator of the exhibition, can offer new results derived from the comparison of the originals.
This was only possible thanks to the cooperative support of the enterprise by many valuable loans. In the first place I wish to thank the owner of the Raphael panel for generously lending it and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and its Director Professor Christopher White FBA, for the loan of the corresponding Raphael Cartoon. I also owe a debt of gratitude to the Musée des Beaux Arts, Angers, Conservateur en Chef M. Patrick Le Nouene; the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich, Director-in-Chief Dr. Georg Prinz von Hohenzollern, and the Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg, Director Dr. Michael Eissenhauer. The Vice-Director of the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Doktor Manuele Mena Marques, took a great personal interest in the exhibition and contributed helpful textual and pictorial material. However, without the magnanimous support of a private sponsor anf the Nordstern Allgemeine Versicherungs AG, Munich, Dr. Brigitte Ulsess, this seminal and unprecedented exhibition could never have taken place. To them we convey our special gratitude.

 

Dr. Veit Loers
former Director of the Museum Fridericianum Kassel
Director of the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach

 

When Landgrave Wilhelm VIII. of Hessen-Kassel received in 1750 a generous New Year present, the Holy Family with a Lamb, an unknown Raphael on a small wooden panel from Baron Häckel of Frankfurt, of whose art collection Goethe was aware, the outstanding connoisseurship of the Landgrave led him immediately to judge the painting an excellent copy after Raffaelo Santi (1483-1520). As such the picture was neglected by the public as a Renaissance work in the Gallery of old master paintings of the Staatliche Museen Kassel.
It is to the credit of our Italian art expert, Dr. Jürgen M. Lehmann, that he spent many years researching in-depth and within an international framework the art historical and cultural context of the subject-matter of this picture and its numerous derivations, and to have conceived the idea to present his findings in form of a small studio exhibition. The project was promoted by Dr. Ulrich Schmidt, the former Director of the Staatliche Museen Kassel in cooperation with Dr. Veit Loers, Head of the Kunsthalle Museum Fridericianum, but the present book which complements the exhibition in the Museum Fridericianum could only be produced thanks to the support of the private lender, the participating museums and the generous sponsorship of the Nordstern Allgemeine Versicherung AG.
Besides Raphael’s picture of 1504 and the revelatory cartoon from Oxford, all available variants and copies were borrowed. Sadly, despite the efforts of the organizers, the loan of the well-known painting in the Prado, Madrid was refused, so that it could only be exhibited as a photographic reproduction in its original size.
In this way, Dr. Jürgen M. Lehmann, the well known author of the scientific catalogue of Italian paintings at Kassel, assisted by Dr. des. Susan Tipton, has plugged an art historical desideratum and convincingly re-interpreted many details, such as the signatures and the dating of the authentic Raphaels in the private collection and in the Prado.
For me as a Leonardo scholar it was fascinating to see, while following this research, how immensely the young Raphael benefited from the greatest universal genius of the Renaissance shortly after he had experienced in Florence, in October 1504, the influence of Leonardo da Vinci, a generation older than himself. He immediately and faithfully imitated Leonardo’s animated, vibrant figures and his supple technique, including the famous sfumato which accentuates the atmospheric effetct of a distant landscape. May this book impart the joy of discovery to all readers and visitors and convey to them the thrill of researching.
The location of the exhibition adjacent to our ‘120 Masterpieces’ from the Picture Gallery could not have been more appropriate. The Museum Fridericianum was the first purpose-built Continental-European museum, even if not built as a picture gallery. Since its foundation in 1779 it had been planned as a place for historical studies and research projects, as the observatory in the tower demonstrates.
Finally, I want to convey the gratitude to the directorate of the Staatliche Museen Kassel to all those involved in preparing the exhibition, the participating restorers and private lenders as well as to the supportive colleagues of the following institutions: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Civici Musei Castello Visconteo, Pavia; Musée des Beaux Arts, Angers; Bayerische Staatsgemälde-sammlungen, Munich, und Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg.

  Kassel, September 1995

Professor Dr. Ludolf von Mackensen
Museumsdirektor, Staatliche Museen Kassel


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