Sistine Chapel © Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums Exhibit Tapestries by Raphael

In the Sistine Chapel

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On the occasion of the fifth centenary of the death of Raphael Sanzio (Urbino, 1484 – Rome, 1520), the Vatican Museums will exhibit tapestries, from cartoons of the artist on the Acts of the Apostles, in the Sistine Chapel, from February 17-23, 2020, indicates a note published by the Holy See.

After Popes Sixtus IV (1471-1484) and Julian II, had the pictorial series made on the walls of the Sistine Chapel, as well as Michelangelo’s vault, Pope Leo X (1513-1521) wished to complete, through art, the religious message of one of the most sacred places of Christianity. So, in 1515 he commissioned Raphael to do the initial cartoons for a series of tapestries that would cover the lower areas of the painted walls.

Between 1515 and 1516 Raphael’s drawings were sent to Brussels to have tapestries made in the renowned workshop of weaver Pieter Van Aelst. The ten tapestries arrived in the Vatican between 1519 and 1521.

The historical recreation of February 17, 2020, is offering for a whole week an excellent opportunity to admire all of Raphael’s tapestries — kept in the Vatican Museums’ Collections, in the place where they were thought of and desired by Pope Leo X, in homage to the “divine” Raphael, but also in remembrance of the ancient custom of adorning the Papal Chapel during solemn liturgical ceremonies.

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