The Italian Almanac

The Knight's Dream

Italian Art - May 21

Rome is set to celebrate Raphael in its first-ever major exhibition on the Renaissance great. The show, which opened at the Galleria Borghese, has been insured for more than one billion euros, a record for an Italian exhibit. Five Raphaels once housed at the Borghese gallery have returned there, joining one of Raphael's finest mid-career paintings, the Deposition. In all, including other paintings and sketches, the exhibition will boast some 60 works.

The aim is to chart Raphael's development from his beginnings in the Marche town of Urbino through his blossoming in Perugia and Florence to a final great Roman period when he produced the 'Stanze di Raffaelo' at the Vatican. The Borghese Gallery once had eight Raphaels but over time lost all but one, the Deposition, through depradation or sale.

They include an exceptional loan from the Louvre, La Belle Jardiniere, which required 72 hours of acclimatization after its arrival in Rome this week. Returning from the National Gallery in London, two of the stars of the show will be the Sogno del Cavaliere (the Knight's Dream) and the Madonna Aldobrandini. The Baltimore Museum of Art agreed to loan the Madonna dei Candelabri. Another London gallery has sent its Santa Caterina (St Catherine) while Berlin's City Museum has loaned a Madonna with Child and a St Jerome and St Francis.

The Borghese hasn't got the other two of the seven, the Madonna del Velo (Madonna of the Veil) and the Three Graces (one of Raphael's only two non-religious paintings) because their current home, the Chantilly Museum in France, is not allowed by statute to loan works.

The show runs until the end of the year.