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Raphael: Prince Albert's Passion

2020 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael and to commemorate this significant event, exhibitions are being staged around the world to celebrate Raphael’s achievement as one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance. The Lightbox is the only regional gallery in the UK to be mounting an exhibition about Raphael in 2020.

The upcoming exhibition (6 May – 6 September 2020) at The Lightbox relays the fascinating story of Prince Albert’s passion for Raphael and his creation of the Raphael Collection at Windsor Castle. It reveals how Raphael caught the imagination of the Prince Consort, who embarked on a pioneering research-based project into the work of the Renaissance master, making copies of his work using the newest technology available, namely photography.

 

The exhibition explores the making of copies after Raphael and reveals 500 years of reproductive techniques, not only in photography, but also in a variety of mediums including engravings, original wood-block printing and lithography.

 

The Prince Consort’s Raphael Collection, started in 1853, includes over 5,000 prints and photographs, recording Raphael (1483-1520), A Woman Standing in Profile, Florentia, 1514, pen and iron-gall ink, Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019 almost every work by Raphael. The Prince began to assemble all available reproductions of Raphael’s work, and he and his wife, Queen Victoria, spent many happy hours together in the Print Room at Windsor Castle occupied by this task. The exhibition also shows how Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s own personal art collection reflected their shared, intense interest in Raphael. Included in the show are several of the Raphael-inspired artworks the couple purchased or commissioned and gifted to each other as either birthday or Christmas presents.

 

The Raphael drawings in the Royal Collection are at the heart of the exhibition and several of them will be shown in a specially-designed space. Most of the drawings included in the display were made in preparation for major commissions, but they are important as individual works of art and reveal the artist’s working methods. Prince Albert was also inspired by the Raphael cartoons in the Royal Collection and like the drawings, had them photographed. The exhibition includes a rare 17th century tapestry version of one of the cartoons, made at the Mortlake tapestry works under the patronage of Charles II, whose father, Charles I, had originally brought the Raphael cartoons to England.

 

Opening the summer exhibition is Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Raphael: Prince Albert’s Passion will be on show at The Lightbox in Woking, Surrey, from 6 May – 6 September 2020. The exhibition will be accompanied by a selection of engaging talks, tours and creative workshops, including an audio-described tour of the works for visually-impaired visitors. For further information please visit thelightbox.org.uk. 

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