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.