View the Raphael Cartoons from your room, V&A online
The Raphael Cartoons are a set of seven full-scale designs for tapestry painted by Raphael (1483 – 1520), and are considered one of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance. They were commissioned in 1515 by Pope Leo X for the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and depict the lives of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The Cartoons have been on loan to the V&A from Her Majesty The Queen since 1865
At a time when the V&A’s doors are closed, we are delighted to share these incredible works of art with people at home to experience and enjoy, and we look forward to people visiting them in person once again
Source: Victoria and Albert Museum
On the V&A's website, a feature called Explore the Raphael Cartoons includes interactive browsers that visualise the colour, infrared and 3D layers of the cartoons. Users can zoom in to see the tiny pinholes that were crucial to the 16th-century creative process of translating Raphael's full-scale painted designs into tapestries, which were woven by Pieter van Aelst’s workshop in Brussels.
---- The Art Newspaper
In honour of the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death, the V&A undertook a refurbishment of the gallery that aims to make the cartoons “more visible and legible”, says the project’s curator, Ana Debenedetti, with a bold wall colour to enhance Raphael’s “beautiful palette” and new LED lighting to minimise reflections on the glass. “It was about time” to redecorate, she says. The old lighting was installed during a 1996 renovation and had gone out of production, making it impossible to replace broken bulbs.
---- The Art Newspaper
The high-resolution images have now been uploaded to the museum’s website, which provide an in-depth look at the minutiae of the Renaissance artworks – originally commissioned in 1513 by Pope Leo X for tapestries in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Palace, portraying scenes from the lives of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The Cartoons were then sent to the workshop of merchant-weaver Pieter van Aelst in Brussels to translate the designs into tapestries.
Raphael’s tapestry cartoons for the Sistine Chapel were documented using ultra-high-resolution colour photography, infrared and 3D scanning: The seven surviving cartoons can now be viewed through inspecting their colour, infrared and 3D layers: unravelling the charcoal underdrawing, paint and paper, and surface texture. They even reveal minuscule pinholes used by the weavers to turn the cartoons into tapestries.
The Raphael Cartoons are considered one of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance in the UK. These scale designs for tapestries were created by Raphael – one of the most important masters of the Renaissance period. Commissioned by Pope Leo X, shortly after his election in 1513, for the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Palace, the Cartoons depict key episodes of the lives of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Of the ten original designs only seven have survived and these can be seen today in the Raphael Court V&A.