Video Lecture by Rosa Maria Letts on

In anticipation of the reopening in the V&A of the Raphael Cartoons Gallery, which has been under restoration for over a year, we narrate the story of the seven Cartoons commissioned in 1515 by Pope Leo X Medici, for Tapestries to be hung in the Sistine Chapel. This was the Pope’s Chapel, used during the most important religious, political and social events of a Pontificate.

Raffaello, Feed My Sheep; Gouache on Paper, Raphael Cartoon Gallery,
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Their design had to be dramatic, imposing, unique but rendered by the Tapestry Maker chosen, in this case Pieter van Aelst from Brussels, "The Tapissier du Roy"  (the Kings’ Weaver) used by all European Kings, Emperor, aristocrats of the 16 C. 


Inspired by the Acts of the Apostles and created during the summit of Raphael's artistic career, he was able to see their realisation as tapestries in December 1519. He died three months later.  


In his famous Discourses written in 1778, Joshua Reynolds wrote "the most considerable and most esteemed works of Raffaello, are his Fresco Pictures in the Vatican and his Cartoons in England... and John Pope Hennessy writing in 1950 described as "the main scenes in the History of early Christianity interpreted by one of the world’s greatest artists in his full maturity."

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