RAPHAEL. Raffaello Sanzio d'Urbino (1483-1520)
[Moses Descends from Mount Sinai] Descendit de Monte Sinai, tenens Tabulas in manibus: Videbantq: Filii Israel cornutam faciem ejus
[Pl. IX] Rome: [circa 1774]. Copper engraving, on two joined sheets, by Ottaviani after drawings by Savorelli and Camporesi, printed in light brown coloured ink with contemporary hand-colouring. Neat marginal restoration. Sheet size: 24 3/4 x 21 3/4 inches.
A stunning plate from "Logge di Rafaele nel Vaticano": with contemporary colouring of the highest quality from the golden age of the hand-coloured print. The main panel shows Moses coming down from Mount Sinai, holding the tablets bearing the ten words of the Covenant, his face "horned from the conversation of the Lord". Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses "horned" are afraid to come near.
A very fine image from the second part of a work titled "Loggie di Rafaele nel Vaticano" depicting the decorative work executed by Raphael and his assistants between 1518-1519 in the Vatican. They were drawn by Gaetano Savorelli, a Roman painter and draughtsman best known for his Raphael drawings, and Pietro Camporesi, a Roman architect, who worked for Pope Clemens XIII and Pius VI on rooms for the Vatican Museum. The first to illustrate the famous frescoes, these beautiful plates were probably planned as early as 1760, but were not executed until 1772 to 1776. The plate is remarkable not only as the first important visual record of Raphael's work, but also for the quality of the hand-colouring - the work on this image is, in our opinion, some of the greatest to be produced in Europe during the whole of the eighteenth century: the golden age of the hand-coloured print.
They were remarkable not just for their size and magnificent colouring, but also because of the influence they had on contemporary taste. The decision was made to "borrow" elements from Raphael's Vatican tapestries and insert them where the original frescoes were in too poor a state to be legible. The finished plates therefore represented an amalgam of design elements presented with a crisp freshness of colour that held enormous appeal and did much to stimulate the taste for the "grotesque" in the Neo-classical period.
A year after the death of his principal patron Julius II, Raphael succeeded Donato Bramante in 1514 as the official Vatican architect. Having previously adorned the "Stanze" or chambers of Julius on the second floor of the papal apartments in the Vatican palace, he was commissioned by Leo X in 1517 to decorate the adjacent Logge. He designed an elaborate cycle of ornamental frescoes for the room's ceiling vaults, doors and auxiliary pillars, which were executed by his assistants Giulio Romano and Giovanni da Udine. Twelve of the quadrilateral ceiling vaults were adorned with murals of familiar Old Testament scenes and one with a scene from the New Testament, while the more decorative frescoes painted on the pilasters by Udine were covered with imaginative compositions of 'grotesque' motifs like foliage, fruit, and chimerical beasts.
Cf. Brunet IV, 1110 & 1111; cf. Berlin "Kat". 4068 & 4066; "Raphael Invenit: Stampe da Rafaello" (1985) Ottaviano 22; cf. "Raphael: Reproduktions-graphik aus vier Jahrhunderten" (Coburg 1984) 104 & no. 245.