To mark the 5th centenary of his death, Madrid’s Royal Palace plays host to a remarkable temporary exhibition to pay tribute to the Italian painter and architect, Rafael Sanzio (1483-1520).
Curated by Concha Herrero, the exhibition showcases the collection of Felipe II (1527-1598) and in particular the tapestries of the artist.
The pieces known as the apostolic series dates back to the commission that Rafael received in 1514 by Pope Leo X (1475-1521) for 10 tapestries that would adorn the lower part of the Sistine Chapel during its most solemn ceremonies.
This commission led to a series of original creations of landscapes and grand architectures in line with the Renaissance principles of perspective with geometry and human figures on a natural scale.
Almost five centuries later, Spain’s National Heritage preserves two replicas based on Rafael’s original works from the reign of Felipe II (1578-1621).
In total, there are nine tapestries that are divided into two cycles: four are dedicated to the life of St. Peter; and the remaining five focus to St Paul.
All of the fabrics in silk and wool were woven by Brussels based weaverrs, Jan van Tieghem (active between 1530 and 1568) and Frans Gheteels (active between 1540 and 1568), which are of even higher quality and better preserved than the originals in the Vatican.