Raphael in Berlin

The Madonnas of the Gemäldegalerie

Gallery of Old Masters

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© The National Gallery, London

As part of the Raphael anniversary celebrations in 2020, the Gemäldegalerie will be putting on a one-room show that brings together five Madonnas from their collection, which will be accompanied by loans from the National Gallery in London and the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin.

Monday 6 April 2020 will mark 500 years since the death of Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (born 6 April or 28 March 1483 in Urbino, died 6 April 1520 in Rome), one of the major artists of the Italian Renaissance. This occasion offers a chance to bring together the five depictions of the Virgin Mary from the collection of the Gemäldegalerie in a one-room show. The works, which are otherwise not exhibited in the same space, will come together here, entering into a dialogue with loans from the National Gallery in London and the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett. For the first time, the Terranuova Madonna tondo (ca. 1505) will be on display together with Raphael’s preliminary drawing for the head of the Terranuova Madonna from the Kupferstichkabinett.

Alongside the outstanding works by Raphael from Berlin, a madonna masterpiece will be visiting Berlin from the National Gallery in London, forming a highlight of the exhibition. The Madonna of the Pinks (1506–08) will be leaving England for the first time since its acquisition by the museum. Raphael painted this devotional image shortly before leaving Florence for Rome, taking inspiration from the famous composition of the Benois Madonna by Leonardo da Vinci, which is now located in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg.

This special presentation in Berlin takes a deliberately historical look at the collection of the Berlin museums, showing contemporary audiences the “young Raphael” who was so sought after when the first museum was founded in Berlin in 1830. We trace the exhibition history of Raphael’s madonnas from the Royal Museum Unter den Linden (today’s Altes Museum) to the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum (today’s Bode-Museum) and the post-war era in the West Berlin museum precinct in Dahlem, right through to the present day. Along the way, the interesting question of the framing of the paintings comes to the fore, from those designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel through to the ones in use today. The exhibition sheds light on the early acquisition policies of the Gemäldegalerie in the broader context of the history of collecting in Europe. It shows us the image that 19th-century Prussia had of Raphael, but also the timeless Raphael, the creator of pictures of perfect beauty and harmony.

Gallery of Old Masters
Matthäikirchplatz 4
10785 Berlin

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