Drawing on works produced by the artist over the course of his career, this display reveals the range and skill of his draftsmanship.

Raphael would return to drawing throughout his career, using it as both a way of experimenting with expression and of mastering portrayals of the human form. Although many of his sketches were simply preliminary research for large-scale projects such as the Vatican frescos, the artist also considered them to stand as works of art in their own right.

The museum holds 50 of Raphael's drawings its permanent collection, widely considered the world's greatest holdings of his work on paper. These include a softly rendered image of a youth – largely considered to be a self-portrait – and animated sketches of hands, heads and faces in produced in chalk, ink and charcoal.

They form the basis of this major exhibition, which also includes significant loans such as Three Standing Men, which the artist sent to Albrecht Dürer in order to show of his considerable ‘free hand’ talents.

This important piece depicting three nudes (although one is only very faintly sketched) in red chalk is a fantastic example of Raphael’s ability to carve out the light and shadow of taut flesh, while also managing to capture both the movement and emotion of his subjects. It has a written annotation by Dürer, in which he praises the considerable skill involved.

Ashmolean Museum

Beaumont Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 2PH

01865 278000


Opening times

Daily: 10:00am - 17:00pm

Open until 20:00 on the last friday of every month excluding December

Free to all

50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

10% off shop purchases

Valid to 31 December 2019

A selection of art books, textiles, ceramics and prints inspired by the Ashmolean collection. Enjoy 10% off with your National Art Pass.

Haven't got your pass yet? Learn more

Exhibitions and events at Ashmolean Museum

Exhibitions nearby

Back to top