Raffaello's 500th anniversary celebrations land in USA


On the 500th anniversary of Raffaello Sanzio's death, the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington opened "Raphael and his circle" on February 16th, an exhibition with drawings by Raffaello and his most distinguished students - Giulio Romano, Perino del Vaga and Polidoro da Caravaggio - and some of the best engravings of the main interpreters of Raffaello's tradition. To coincide with the opening of the exhibition, which will remain open until June 14, the Italian Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, Italy, organized a conversation on February 19 with the curator Jonathan Bober, on the life and work of Raffaello.

"After last year's Leonardesque celebrations," commented Ambassador Varricchio, "Italy and the whole world now turns its attention to another great genius of the Italian Renaissance, Raffaello, who still represents an essential point of reference in the artistic and cultural field. The initiatives in Washington give rise to Raphael's celebrations in the USA and consolidate the excellent and well-established collaboration between the Embassy and the National Gallery of Art, one of the most prestigious and appreciated cultural institutions in the United States".

Curator Jonathan Bober said: "The NGA has the largest and most important group of Raffaello's works outside of Europe and we feel very fortunate to be able to participate in such a significant and articulated way in the celebration of the fifth centenary of the Master's death, through significant loans to some of the world's major museum institutions, the permanent exhibition of our works by Raffaello, as well as this exhibition of drawings and prints, also from our collection".

These initiatives are part of the celebrations to be held in Italy and other countries for the 500th anniversary, including the major monographic exhibition to be held at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome from 5 March to 2 June, the flagship event of Raffaello's celebrations, for which the NGA will lend the painting "Madonna d'Alba" by Raffaello from its permanent collection.

The events in Washington are the first in a series of initiatives that the Embassy, the diplomatic-consular network and the Italian Cultural Institutes in the USA are organizing, in collaboration with American institutions, to celebrate the great Renaissance artist on the 500th anniversary of his death.

In fact, during the course of the year, concerts will be held in Washington and Los Angeles to pay homage to Raffaello, in particular to the well-known lutenist Simone Vallerotonda, who will propose a programme of pieces composed during the period in which Raffaello painted for Pope Julius II, accompanied by projections of the painter's main works. Screenings of documentaries and films about the painter from Urbino will be held in Los Angeles with "Raffaello. Il Principe delle Arti" and in Detroit with "Raffaelo Sanzio. The Prodigy of Perfection". In major U.S. cities there will also be cycles of lectures by illustrious experts of the Renaissance genius: in Chicago in collaboration with the Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies, the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago, in San Francisco with Stanford University, the Legion of Honor and Humanities West Museum and in Los Angeles with the University of Southern California. Further exhibitions and initiatives dedicated to Raphael are planned in New York, Philadelphia and other US cities.