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Stanze di Raffaello

The Stanze di Raffaello, or Raphael Rooms were created over the last 12 years of the artist's short life. Summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II in 1508, the Florentine artist was given the job of decorating the pontiff's private apartments. These rooms, the Stanza di Constantino, Stanza di Eliodoro, Stanza della Segnatura and Stanza Incendio now form a fascinating part of the Vatican Museums, collectively the 'Raphael Rooms', with frescoed walls and hung paintings.

The Stanza di Constantino is more accurately 'after Raphael', painted to his designs but completed by his students, Francesco Penni, Giulio Romani and Raffaello del Colle, between 1525 and 1531. Raphael himself (variously known as Raffaello da Urbino, Raffaello Santi and Raffaello Sanzio) had died 'from the excesses of love' in 1520 at the age of just 37. Penni and Romani created the huge Battle of the Milvian Bridge, here. Into the Stanza di Eliodoro and we first see the work of Raphael himself, with his characteristically soft yet precise use of paint asserting the rise and supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church. We have the Expulsion of Hediodorus from the Temple (a supremely lifelike depiction of the horseman and flying men here) which works in Julius II, Raphael and his pupil Romano into one corner.

Miracles were routinely used to bring waverers back into the fold in medieval Europe of course, and The Mass of Bolsena depicts the miracle of a doubting German priest being reconvinced by a bleeding communion wafer. There is a portrait of Julius here, the Deliverance of St Peter (with fine use of chiaroscuro anticipating the later Caravaggio), and Leo I Repulsing Attila the Hun.

Into the Pope's study, the Stanza della Segnatura - this was Raphael's first work in Rome, completed during 1508-1511. The School of Athens is the masterwork, depicting all antiquity's greatest minds, including Plato, Aristotle and Diogenes. Here we see the triumph of science and philosophy - under the arch of a Catholic religious authority of course.

The Stanza Incendio is the last room, and the last of his work, dedicated to Julius's successor, Leo X. The balance shifts again, with Perugino (Raphael's teacher) painting the ceiling, and his pupils (mainly Giulio Romano) completing the frescoes, including Fire in the Borgo.

Tickitaly are official agents for the Vatican and offer individual ticket booking as well as both group and private tours - click here for information on arranging a private tour for you and your party, and click here for information on joining a group tour of the Vatican.


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