Two Renaissance paintings normally kept in the Pope's audience hall on display

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For the first time in 500 years, the initial sketches, preparatory drawings and final paintings of Fra Bartolomeo and Raphael's Sts. Peter and Paul are available to the public in a single space.

In 1513, Fra Bartolomeo, a Dominican friar from Florence, traveled to Rome, where he was commissioned to make both paintings, destined for the Church of San Silvestro al Quirinale. 

He made the sketches of both St. Peter and St. Paul, the patron saints of Rome, but only completed the painting of St. Paul before abandoning the Eternal City.

Director of Vatican Museums
“Fra Bartolomeo was perhaps very overwhelmed, a little unsettled even, by the beauty and power of so much painting, by all the art in Rome. So he leaves Rome. Raphael, only after Fra Bartolomeo's death, completes the painting of St. Peter, in honor of the great master, to whom he owes a great deal.”

The exhibition was supposed to be inaugurated in 2020 as part of the year-long celebrations marking 500 years since Raphael's death. But the pandemic slowed down the project.

After a year and a half of restoration work, the paintings and original sketches were finally unveiled in the Pinacoteca (picture gallery) of the Vatican Museums.

The project is a collaboration between what Eike Schmidt calls the spiritual power of the Vatican Museums and one of the most important secular museums in Italy, the Uffizi Galleries in Florence.

Director of Uffizi Galleries
“This in a way mirrors and matches the collaboration between Raphael and Fra Bartolomeo. Only that it was just the other way around. At the time, Raphael, who resided in Rome as one of the most famous artists of the High Renaissance was a lay person. Whereas Fra Bartolomeo, who had his workshop in Florence, in fact in the Monastery of San Marco, was the spiritual force.”

It's a unique project spearheaded by two world-class art institutions to celebrate two Renaissance artists and two saints of the early Church.



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