Sunday, November 15, 2015

Raphael - Woman & Unicorn

 Yesterday (11/14) Tom and I had the pleasure of seeing a Raphael painting that is very much on the order of the Mona Lisa: Raphael's Portrait of Young Woman with Unicorn (also called Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn). It was painted in the years 1505-1506

 The painting's home is at the Galleria Borghese in Rome.

 It's being shown at the Cincinnati Art Museum in a somewhat darkened room all by itself. I asked the guard whether photographs could be taken. "Not in this room," he said. Later I saw a sign on the wall stating the same. Of course I respect the rules and left my camera hanging around my neck.

 So how could I show the painting on this blog other than to copy a picture that is posted on the web? Tom was purchasing a greeting card of the painting and I asked him to hold it for me. Here it is:

 Raphael studied both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo (per a sign on the wall). Leonardo's Mona Lisa was painted in the same time frame as this painting. A restoration of this painting in the 1930's brought the attribution to Raphael (it was originally thought to be by Perugino and was then titled Saint Catherine of Alexandria). The unicorn wasn't found until the restoration; instead a wheel was in its place. In the late 1950's, a dog was found beneath the unicorn. So the painting has gone through several revisions, attributions and names. Wikipedia says that the woman was a bride and the painting was a wedding gift from Raphael.

 Raphael lived from 1883 and 1520. The last two decades of his life were considered the "High Renaissance" This is the first time the painting has been shown in the United States.The painting entered the Rome museum's collection in 1682. It has been called one of Raphael's "most beguiling and enigmatic paintings" [Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco]

 Looking up from the outdoor courtyard, this "bell tower" stands above all else. It can be seen from many distant spots in Cincinnati.

 The Cincinnati Art Museum is draped in their Christmas finery already. Tom visited the gift shop and purchased the card shown (first picture) and a bar of milk chocolate for me, complete with a Van Gogh on the cover.

Note: Tom and I visited the Cincinnati Art Museum in January. I posted lots of pictures from the trip and they're available by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. I find it so inspiring to be in the same room with that kind of greatness.