Within the celebrations for the fifth centenary of Raphael’s death, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei organized the exhibition “Raphael in Villa Farnesina: Galatea and Psyche” curated by the Lincei fellow Antonio Sgamellotti and the curator of Villa Farnesina, Virginia Lapenta.
Raphael’s work in the villa which was built and decorated by the very wealthy banker and his close friend, Agostino Chigi, is celebrated by focusing attention on the two loggias that still bear the pictorial testimony of the Roman stay of the master from Urbino: the Loggia di Galatea and the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche. The catalogue retraces the path of the exhibition, expanding and deepening the contents on display which concern, in the Loggia of Galatea, the surprising results emerged from the non-invasive analyses carried out on Raphael’s fresco, the Triumph of Galatea, namely the discovery of the use of Egyptian blue. This pigment, the first man-made blue in history which disappeared at the end of the Roman Empire, was individuated in the sky, the sea and in the eyes of the protagonist nymph, connoting and eternalizing the work of Raphael, already widely known to the general public, as an unicum in the production of the divine painter. The use of Egyptian blue testifies the passion of Raphael for the Antique and the desire to reproduce the ancient artistic materials. Will be also introduced the preliminary results of the non-invasive investigations carried out on the drawings discovered in the 1970s on the plaster beneath Polyphemus by Sebastiano del Piombo and the Triumph of Galatea by Raphael, normally hidden by “fake” nineteenth-century curtains and for the first time on public display in this exhibition.
The section dedicated to the Loggia of Cupid and Psyche shows the phases of the realization of the frescoed vault through the study of the giornate and the preparatory drawings of the currently visible scenes, the so-called celestial, and of those never realized, so-called earthly, of which however there are examples that illustrate the creative path, unfortunately remained in embryo.
A vast array of graphic material accompanied by historical contextualizations constitutes the core of the exhibition “The Fable of Cupid and Psyche in the graphic translations of the Regia Calcografia. Drawings, Photographs, Copper plates” by the Istituto centrale per la grafica which symbolically summarizes the last phase of the historical path of classical Italian engraving which, since its origins, drew from the work of Raphael and his school the main source of inspiration, strength and driving force for the development of its thriving publishing market.